Cacioricotta is a cross between cacio (meaning cheese in the local dialect) and fresh ricotta, produced by combining two techniques of cheese-making. Originally hailing from the Apulian city of Salento, nowadays it is produced in many southern Italian regions using – depending on the region – goat, sheep, or cow milk.
Generally, the milk is heated to 85-90 degrees, then left to cool down to 37 degrees before adding the rennet, which causes both the milk and the whey to coagulate. The curd is then hand-squeezed, formed into small cylinders using basket-shaped containers, and left to dry.
The end result is a soft cheese similar to dried ricotta, which becomes semi-hard and straw-yellow if aged for two or three months. Eaten fresh, it is fragrant, salty, and slightly acidic. The aged version becomes much tangier, and it is typically enjoyed on its own or served accompanied by bread and a glass of full-bodied red wine, although it an also be grated over pasta dishes.