My family loves lasagna and we usually buy large amounts of ricotta cheese. However, there is always leftover cheese at the end of the week and I’ve always hated to see this expensive cheese go to waste. I wondered: Is there a way to preserve it for more than a week? Can you freeze ricotta cheese?
The good news is yes, you could freeze it. The even better news is there is a way to keep your ricotta cheese longer if you know how to freeze it properly.
Keep in mind that ricotta cheese is more watery and more delicate in consistency than other types of cheese. It also has a slightly sweet taste. It is important to take note of these features as these will be the most affected when you freeze ricotta cheese.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
As with any food, the shelf-life of cheese depends on its kind. Soft cheese, like ricotta and cottage cheese, could last for up to three weeks after opening. Meanwhile, hard cheese, such as cheddar and parmesan, could last for months.
Regardless of type, cheese should always be refrigerated after opening, between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cheese exposed to air enhances mold and bacteria growth which may shorten its shelf-life.
Unlike other types of cheese, ricotta is actually a by-product of mozzarella and provolone cheese in the form of whey. This gives ricotta cheese its soft and moist appearance.
Freezing does not change the ricotta’s taste but it can alter its texture noticeably. The curds and whey in the ricotta often separate when frozen and it loses its moisture. Once thawed, the curds tend to crumble, producing a drier cheese.
The physical changes due to freezing and thawing may render the ricotta cheese unusable for certain dishes but it can still be incorporated in baking, especially in breads that need some puffing.
If freezing the ricotta cheese is unavoidable but you do have time to whip up a dish with it, you might want to start cooking. Ricotta cheese freezes well when it has been included in a pre-cooked meal.
How to Freeze Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese normally lasts up to two weeks in the refrigerator and three months in the freezer, but if you follow these steps carefully, you could keep your ricotta cheese longer than that.
- Preserve fresh ricotta cheese. If it’s already near expiration, it might not last long even if you freeze it.
- If you have a large chunk of ricotta, it is recommended to slice them into smaller portions so you only thaw the amount that you need.
- After slicing, put them in airtight containers. Also, don’t forget to drain the whey. This can cause the cheese to sour.
- Make sure to squeeze out excess air from the container before sealing it.
- Freeze ricotta cheese at zero Fahrenheit or lower. A higher temperature encourages mold and bacterial growth.
- When you want to use ricotta again, thaw it inside the fridge first. If you’re going to use it for cooking, you can use it direct from the freezer. Stir the separated whey and curds before using.
Ricotta Cheese Recipes
Spinach manicotti is the kind of thing you usually order in a restaurant, but you could whip up a restaurant-quality dish in your own home just by using frozen ricotta cheese.
Another easy recipe to cook with your frozen ricotta cheese, these coconut flakes cheese balls are cold and creamy, with just a hint of cinnamon — perfect for a sunny day.
A great way to use your frozen ricotta, this low-carb ricotta cheese dessert allows you to enjoy ricotta cheese without the guilt. Just add some cinnamon and honey to add some sweetness.