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Difference Between Ricotta and Cottage Cheese

cheeseRicotta vs. Cottage Cheese

Two cheeses have received much speculation ever since they were first commercially available. Ricotta and cottage cheeses have been the blood brothers for many years now. These cheeses are sometimes used interchangeably in various recipes because of their almost similar appearance, and how they are packed; although an expert cheese lover can immediately differentiate one from the other. Similarly, cheese experts also know which one is best for a certain type of recipe, with the focus being on the cheese’s texture.

The first major difference between the two cheeses, is the materials or ingredients that are used to make them. Cottage cheese is made from the curd byproduct, although it also possesses some whey. It also has a relatively milder flavor. Cottage cheese is one of those cheese types that are non-aged, and does not appear to be colored. Quite often, the curd from this cheese is washed away to give a sweeter cheese blend. Due to all of these flavorful characteristics, cottage cheeses are incorporated into popular dishes, like lasagnas and many desserts. There are actually two major classifications of cottage cheese. One has the smaller curd (size of the cheese chunks), whereas the second class has the larger curd.

On the other hand, ricotta cheese is the complete opposite of cottage cheese. Ricotta makes use of the whey byproduct of cheese making. Unlike the curds that are traditionally conceptualized as cheese chunks, whey is the liquid component that is being separated from the curds to make the ricotta cheese. Like cottage, ricotta is another example of a fresh cheese product (non-aged). Generally, most ricotta cheeses have a lighter texture as opposed to cottage cheeses, although there are some variations of the latter that makes their textures indistinguishable from one another. More so, ricotta cheese is often grainier than it’s cottage counterpart, which has bigger lumps. This particular cheese type is commonly used to make cheesecakes, although it can also be used in pastas and lasagnas.

In summary, cottage and ricotta cheeses differ in the following aspects:

1. Cottage cheese is made from the curd byproduct, whereas ricotta is made from the whey byproduct of cheese production.

2. Ricotta cheese is said to have a lighter texture when compared to cottage cheese.

3. Cottage cheese is said to be lumpier than ricotta cheese.

4. Ricotta cheese is also grainier in texture than cottage cheese.

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  1. Did you mean: “Quite often the “whey” from this cheese is washed away” when describing cottage cheese? Cottage cheese IS curd with the whey removed. Most commercial cottage cheese has moisture added back in in the form of cream.

  2. Yes, this is very confusing to me. If the “whey” is the liquid that’s left after you remove the curds, how do you make ricotta out of it? Ricotta is also curds, is it not?

    • The whey that is drained from the curds when making cottage cheese still has enough protein and milk sugars to form a nice ricotta. You take the left over whey from your cheese making and make it very hot but not boiling (about 195 degrees F) After that you take it off the heat and let it sit for about 10 minutes before you carefully ladle it into a fine cheesecloth or muslin lined colander and let it drain for a while. What is left on the cloth is ricotta. it is delicious and useful for many things especially like lasagna and other pasta dishes. Just made some yesterday.

  3. That is whey different from what I understand….

    Not to mention, ricotta has a much higher fat content. If you look at calories per gram/oz, ricotta has a higher propensity to attach itself to your belly.

  4. Ummm…What about the “rennet” in cottage-cheese-making that most of the websites mention?

    • I don’t see any mention of using rennet in either cottage cheese or ricotta. Did I miss something? What was it you wanted to know about rennet more specifically? I only use lemon juice. I have used rennet in making other types of cheeses (jack & cheddar). I mostly just make cottage cheese nowadays; or whole milk ricotta. They are just so much easier and quick.

      • I forgot to say that I also use cultured buttermilk to set the curd in my cottage cheese–only takes a little. I also use raw milk to start and let the buttermilk do its work which it does in 2 to 4 days sitting in my kitchen. (depends on weather, temperature, the cow, the milk itself, etc.)

  5. They would actually both be classified as Whey cheeses not “Cottage Cheeses”. Riccota & Cottage Cheese are both Whey derived cheeses.

    • Gabe, Well, you’ve got me confused there. I guess I don’t know what you mean by “whey cheese”. Honestly, when I make my cottage cheese I rinse the curds before storing them in the refrigerator. If I leave any whey in it, it forms a bitter/sour flavor rapidly. Rinsing it keeps it sweet. This cottage cheese is like the kind we find in the grocery stores only it tastes a whole lot better. If I want it to be creamy I simply stir some cream into it.

      The whey that is used to make a good ricotta is the whey that is left over from the making of cheese; like cheddar or a jack style. There are other methods of making ricotta.

      This is what I know about it anyway. If you have more info, let me know. If you can direct me to a website that you like that would be cool.

  6. This answer does not make sense.

    The way both are made is different. To make cottage cheese, rennet is used to separate solids (curd) from liquids (whey); to make ricotta, lemon juice or vinegar is used to seperate the solids from the liquid.

  7. Thank you that was an amazing description.

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