Loved by cheese connoisseurs from all over the globe, Ricotta cheese is one of the most popular cheeses of authentic Italian origin. From salad to cheesecake, this cheese acts like a turbo-booster in every popular cheese dish. However, if you are following a gluten-free diet, you may wonder: is ricotta cheese gluten free?
Ricotta cheese is mainly made from milk. And the classic version of ricotta cheese is always gluten free. But, to accelerate the fermentation process, a few brands use vinegar that may have gluten. Besides, the thickeners and stabilizers may contain gluten.
There are other questions you need to ask. Is the storage unit of ricotta cheese always safe? Is there a chance of cross-contamination? Is it possible to find out all about the possible gluten content in ricotta cheese by looking at the label? Keep reading to find out all about it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Is Ricotta Cheese Gluten Free?
- 2 Health Benefits Of Ricotta Cheese
- 3 How To Make Gluten-Free Ricotta Cheese At Home?
- 4 Are All Cheese Varieties Gluten Free?
- 5 Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?
- 6 Gluten Free Ricotta Cheese Brands
- 7 Gluten Free Ricotta Cheese Pancake Recipe
- 8 Final Words
Is Ricotta Cheese Gluten Free?
Ricotta cheese offers us the gift of optimum balance of sweet and savory flavors. So, it is used in both salty and sweet dishes all over the world. But the manufacturing process of ricotta cheese is wholly different from other cheese-making processes.
This one is primarily made of whey, a leftover from milk after cheese is produced. Whey is first fermented to make it more acidic in nature. The acidic whey mix is then heated to a certain degree to break the protein chains and to make a fine curd from it.
Cheesemakers then squeeze out the liquid from the curd to ensure a cream consistency of ricotta cheese. And this cheese is naturally gluten free as it is primarily made of cow, sheep, goat, or water buffalo milk. If you are using a classic and homemade variant, you can be sure that the product is completely gluten-free and safe for people with celiac disease.
However, many modern-day industrial manufacturers now use vinegar as an acidifier in the ricotta cheesemaking process. And they typically use barley-derived vinegar, which is loaded with gluten. So, you need to check the vinegar content on the product label to be extra sure.
Several thickeners, preservatives, and stabilizers are also used in packaged ricotta cheese that you usually buy from supermarkets and grocery stores. And those additives can also contain gluten ingredients. Last but not least, there is always a chance of cross-contamination if the manufacturer doesn’t process and store the cheese in a certified gluten-free facility.
The processing and storage facility is also important when it comes to gluten. If the facilities are not certified as gluten free and safe, there is always a chance of cross-contamination. You need to read the label carefully to be on the safe side. Statements made by brands may also help.
Related Post:- Is Kraft Parmesan Cheese Gluten Free?
Health Benefits Of Ricotta Cheese
Whether ricotta cheese is gluten free or not shouldn’t be your primary concern, as there are several food products that are completely gluten free but extremely harmful for human consumption. But don’t worry! Ricotta is not just gluten free but is also beneficial for your health. It is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals that are needed for an optimum diet plan.
A single serving of this delicious cheese can provide 51% of the daily need for calcium, which is essential for healthy bones, teeth, and hair. Besides, ricotta cheese is full of vitamin A, vitamin B12, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), phosphorus, and zinc. This variant of cheese is also high in protein and calories. So, if you are following a low-calorie diet plan, you need to keep a tab on your daily consumption.
A typical serving of this cheesy goodness has more than 13 grams of fat and 30 mg of cholesterol in it. So, you also need to take care of your daily intake of fat and cholesterol while enjoying this cheese. You should also avoid this cheese if you have any cardiovascular disease. Besides, many modern-day ricotta cheeses are full of salt, which can lead to a greater sodium consumption beyond the daily intake threshold.
How To Make Gluten-Free Ricotta Cheese At Home?
Yes, it is now very much possible to make ricotta cheese at home. And that too, in three variants. You can make traditional whey-based, without whey, and completely vegan variants of ricotta cheese right in your home.
1. Traditional Whey-based Ricotta Cheese Recipe
- Whey: 2 gallons (fresh)
- Milk: 1 gallon (whole-fat)
- White-wine vinegar: ½ cup (gluten-free variant)
- Salt: According to taste (non-iodized)
- Take a medium-sized bowl and put milk and whey together. Mix it well.
- Heat the milk-whey mix to 195℉ (It is better to use a double boiler to prevent a scorching effect).
- Stir the mixture occasionally but gently until it reaches the required temperature.
- Take it out from the oven or stove and add white-wine vinegar to make whey curd.
- Take a muslin (or any other fine cloth) and place it over a bowl.
- Pour all the curd into the cloth and press it with a large spoon to squeeze all the liquids.
- Let the cheese sit for at least six hours at room temperature, and add salt after that according to your taste.
2. Whey-Less Ricotta Cheese Recipe
- Whole Milk: 3 cups (full fat)
- Cream: 1 cup (heavy)
- White-Wine Vinegar: 1 ½ teaspoon (gluten-free variant)
- Lemon Juice: 1 ½ tablespoon (freshly squeezed)
- Kosher Salt: ¾ teaspoon
- Take a thick-bottomed pot and add milk and cream to it. Add salt and mix it well.
- Put the mix in medium heat and stir gently.
- Once the mix starts boiling, add lemon juice and vinegar, and then stir gently for 5 to 10 minutes.
- After the mix starts to become curd, pour it over a strainer covered with a fine cloth.
- Let the curd sit in the strainer for at least 2 hours, and then squeeze it with a large spoon to remove all the excess liquid.
- Put it in an air-tight container and keep it in your refrigerator.
3. Vegan Ricotta Cheese Recipe
- Cashew: 2 cups (whole)
- Cashew milk: ½ cup
- Oregano: 1 ½ teaspoon (dried)
- Basil: 1 teaspoon (dried)
- Garlic: ¼ teaspoon (dried)
- Sea salt: 1 ½ teaspoon (powdered)
- Black pepper: To taste
- Lemon juice: 3 tablespoons
- Take a medium-sized bowl and soak the cashews in cold water overnight.
- Drain the water and rinse the soaked cashews in cold water.
- Take a food processor, and put soaked cashews, oregano, dried basil, dried garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and lemon juice.
- Blend the mixture well until it reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.
- Add cashew milk slowly to the mix and keep blending until the entire mixture forms a curd-like texture.
- Put the mix in an air-tight container and use it within 7 days.
All the three variants we have mentioned above are completely gluten free. So, if you are in doubt about ricotta cheese’s gluten content, you should try these recipes at your home.
Are All Cheese Varieties Gluten Free?
Almost all the traditional cheese variants are gluten-free, as those are primarily made using just milk and milk derivatives. However, there is always a chance of cross-contamination if the manufacturing and processing are not entirely done in a gluten-free facility. But yes, there are several classic cheese variants available that are entirely gluten-free, which are the following:
- Cream Cheese
- Mascarpone Cheese
- Cottage Cheese (Paneer)
- Feta Cheese
- Goat Cheese
- Sour cream
If you can’t get traditional homemade cheese in your locality and have to buy packaged cheese from supermarkets, you need to be extra careful about the following cheese variants as they may contain gluten ingredients.
- Processed cheese
- Flavored cheese
- Plant-based cheese (vegan)
- Starch- or modified starch-based cheese
- Low-salt or low-fat cheese
You must read the labels of the cheese you are going to use before purchasing it. Manufacturers nowadays use vinegar, plant-based additives, thickeners, and preservatives, which may also contain gluten ingredients.
Is Ricotta Cheese Healthy?
Ricotta cheese is not just delicious but is traditionally used in many mouthwatering dishes. However, even as a naturally gluten free cheese, ricotta cheese may have several other harmful effects on your body. But traditional ricotta cheese is truly beneficial for the human body.
Ricotta cheese is loaded with essential vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B12, and vitamin K. Besides, it is also full of iodine, zinc, phosphorus, and selenium, which are essential nutrients for a healthy diet. On the contrary, this cheese is full of calories and fat. A single serving (100 grams) of ricotta cheese has the following nutritional ingredients.
As we have already said, Ricotta is mainly made of whey, which is a leftover of the traditional cheesemaking process. And whey contains all the essential protein chains, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), valine, leucine, and isoleucine, which are a must-need for a healthy diet.
Gluten Free Ricotta Cheese Brands
It is always better to make your own ricotta cheese at home, as you’ll have full control over the ingredients to make it absolutely gluten-free. But, if you have to buy it from grocery stores or supermarkets, you need to know whether “is ricotta cheese gluten free” or not. However, there are several officially certified gluten free ricotta cheeses available nowadays.
Lamagna: A single serving of this popular ricotta cheese can fulfill a 26% daily intake of calcium, 10% daily intake of zinc, 20% daily intake of phosphorus, and 26% daily intake of selenium. Besides, it has 339 mg of Omega-6 and 139 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids, which can prevent cancer and heart irregularities.
Sorrento: Not just certified as gluten-free, this one is also very delicious. A typical serving (¼ cup) of Sorrento ricotta cheese has just 100 calories. Besides, it has 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of protein, and 4 grams of sugar. It also has 60 grams of sodium and 30 mg of cholesterol in it.
Breakstone’s: A single serving (¼ cup) of this mouthwatering ricotta cheese has 8 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Besides, it has 65 grams of sodium and 25 mg of cholesterol on it. A single serving also has just 110 calories in it.
Crystal Farms: A typical serving (¼ cup) of Crystal Farms’ ricotta cheese has just 110 calories. It has 2 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of fat, and 7 grams of protein. Besides, a single serving of this cheese also has 150 mg of sodium and 35 mg of cholesterol in it.
Calabro: This cheese has just 100 calories in a single serving (¼ cup). Calabro ricotta has 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of sugars, and 8 grams of protein. A typical serving of this cheese has just 62 mg of sodium and 33 mg of cholesterol.
Gluten Free Ricotta Cheese Pancake Recipe
If you still have doubts, you can make your own gluten-free ricotta cheese, as we have mentioned above. And if you want to take a step ahead, you can also make delicious ricotta cheese pancakes for breakfast.
- Gluten-free flour mix: ½ cup
- Eggs: 6 (medium-sized and separated)
- Ricotta cheese: 1 ½ cup (gluten-free)
- Brown sugar: 1 tablespoon (powdered)
- Baking soda: ½ teaspoon
- Lemon juice: 2 tablespoons
- Butter: 1 tablespoon
- Take a medium-sized bowl and put the ricotta cheese, egg yolks, baking soda, lemon juice, and salt.
- Take a hand mixer and blend the mix at slow to medium speed until it achieves a smooth consistency.
- Slowly add the gluten-free flour blend to the mix and stir it well.
- Take another bowl and put the egg whites. Beat it until it forms a foamy texture.
- Add the egg white into the mix and stir gently until it forms a smooth batter.
- Take a nonstick pan and put it over medium heat.
- Add butter to the heated pan and spread throughout.
- Put the batter in small batches into the pan and continue to cook until you see the bubbles forming. Cook both sides for at least 2 minutes each.
- Serve it hot with honey or maple syrup.
Is ricotta cheese gluten free? You can see how the classic variant is safe while the processed or packaged variants might be problematic. So, check the labels first. There’s no match for ricotta cheese if you want a joyride for your tastebuds. It is also high in vitamins and minerals, though it is also high in sodium and cholesterol. So be careful about how much of the cheese you eat.