Ricotta could be considered a cheese byproduct. The word ricotta means recooked in Italian, and ricotta production involves reheating the whey left over from making other cheeses such as mozzarella and provolone. Ricotta originated in Italy, where it could be made from the milk whey of any dairy animal, including cows, sheep, goats, and Italian water buffalo. In the United States, ricotta production generally uses a combination of whey and whole, low-fat, or skim cow’s milk. Ricotta is widely available and inexpensive.
In texture, ricotta resembles a grainy, thick sour cream and is naturally low in fat in comparison to other cheeses.