Other than one being more lumpy than the other, what’s the difference between these two soft cheeses?
- Cottage cheese: an extremely soft, or loose, white, mild-flavored cheese made form skim-milk curds, usually without rennet.*
- Ricotta cheese: a soft Italian cheese that resembles cottage cheese.
- *Rennet: the lining membrane of the fourth stomach of a calf.
Basically, when milk or cream is separated into curds and whey, the curds are used to make cottage cheese and the whey ricotta; curds are chunky while whey is liquid-y. So in a way, the two cheese are actually exact opposites.
As the curds form, the whey separates and is drained away. Curds are mixed with cream and other ingredients to form cottage cheese. Whey is left to ferment for a day or two, then is heated and placed in a cheesecloth to form ricotta.
They look similar, and are sold in the same type of containers. They can be used interchangeably in certain recipes (lasagna) but not in others (cheesecake).
- Has a mild, creamy flavor with a hint of saltiness.
- Has a chunky texture.
- Can be enjoyed on its own, often with fruit or cinnamon.
- Is divided into small curd and large curd types.
- Has a mild, sweet flavor.
- Has a smooth but grainy texture.
- Is not typically eaten on its own, but is primarily used as an ingredient.
Their nutritional content depends on what type of milk is used, but cottage cheese tends to be healthier.