What makes Sardinian ricotta so special?
Sardinian cheeses are big business on the island, where there are more than 3,500,000 sheep, goats and cows. Of these, 2,851,517 are sheep and 221,969 are goats. The animals are bred in 12,267 farms. Sardinia produces half of the goat's milk at national level. It breeds 28% of the goats present in the nation and produces 46% of the milk and the sheep population makes up 40% of the total amount in Italy. This is 2.5 times the amount of people living on the island! It’s not surprising then, that there are so many varieties of cheese.
Sheep and goats provide high-quality milk to produce Sardinian cheese, the most popular being pecorino and ricotta. Sardinia has a variety of ricotta, like the fresh sheep’s ricotta cheesees “La testa di Morto”, “La Moliterna” which is shaped into a truncated cone, and the popular smoked and smooth “Ricotta Mustia”.
Ricotta is a low fat whey cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or buffalo milk whey left over from the production of other cheeses. The whey is heated to a temperature of 80-90°C and stirred constantly to solidify the proteins that remain after the casein has been used to make cheese. The ricotta traditionally was served with Carasau bread, to nourish the shepherds when looking after their flock away from home.
The fresh varieties are typically white in colour, flaky and creamy. It’s an ideal ingredient to use in savoury dishes like ravioli and also works well in traditional Sardinian desserts with raw honey. Our sheep’s milk ricotta is lightly salted and aged for four weeks and made with organic milk from north Sardinia. The aged firmer version has a stronger, savoury flavour that can be grated, to flavour the pasta and soups with vegetables, basil, guanciale or thick tomato sauce. It is also very good in the preparation of baking recipes, like savoury quiches and tarts.
The Ricotta Mustia spends five or six hours in the smoking room, where a fire of aromatic herbs is burning; it is produced all over Sardinia, in particular in the area of Sassari. Our two ricotta Mustia are made with cow’s milk, smoked with local herbs and organic sheep’s milk, smoked with oak wood. It has an amber colour, a soft, firm texture and a slightly piquant taste with a soft, pressed, brownish-white body. It's an excellent table ricotta as a main ingredient in cooking, grated on pasta or enjoyed with our eucalyptus raw honey.
Here you’ve an easy and tasty recipe to enjoy our ricotta Mustia.
Crostini with Sardinian smoked ricotta, thistle honey, mint and pine nuts
Season the sliced sourdough with Accademia Olearia extra virgin olive oil and salt and grill each side under the grill to toast. Season the smoked ricotta with black pepper and salt if required. Place a slice of smoked ricotta on each piece of sourdough bread, sprinkle with pine nuts, hands cut mint leaves and top with a drizzle of thistle honey.
4 slices of sourdough bread, each 1,5 cm thick
Accademia Olearia “Fruttato Medio” extra virgin olive oil
15 fresh mint leaves,
150g Mustia smoked ricotta
20g pine nuts, roasted for a few minutes until golden
20g Thistle honey