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Can you freeze ricotta cheese? If you’ve been wondering whether you can freeze ricotta, this guide is for you! You’ll learn the best ways to freeze ricotta, how to defrost and thaw ricotta, how long ricotta cheese lasts, and different ways to use ricotta in a variety of recipes.
Are you getting ready to make an epic ricotta cheese recipe? Commonly used in everything from lasagna to cheesecake, this Italian cheese makes a great addition to all sorts of dreamy dishes. But when you wind up with leftover cheese, what do you do?
No need to worry about food waste – you can freeze your ricotta to use again and again. Whether you’re wondering how long ricotta cheese lasts or the best way to freeze ricotta, I’m covering everything you need to know in this helpful guide!
What Is Ricotta Cheese?
So, before we can ask ‘can ricotta cheese be frozen,’ let’s break down what exactly it is. There are several different kinds of ricotta that we will be covering in this guide. Ricotta belongs to the cottage cheese family, although it is smoother than cottage cheese and features a creamy curd, a crumbly texture, and a mild taste. It’s typically made with cow’s milk, but can also be made from sheep’s milk.
Most people know ricotta as the gooey, light, creamy cheese that is used in many Italian dishes. However, there’s more to it than that. While some forms of ricotta have a smooth texture and creamy consistency, other types of the cheese are firm and easy to slice.
What Are The Different Types Of Ricotta Cheese?
As we mentioned, ricotta can be broken down into soft cheeses and not-so-soft cheeses. However, this great source of calcium can also be divided into four types of cheese:
- Fresh ricotta is an incredibly creamy cheese that can be scooped with a spoon. More often than not, this is the type of ricotta that people like to freeze for future use.
- Basket ricotta consists of soft, pillowy curds that are scooped into a basket to drain. This process shapes the ricotta into a small dome-like shape.
- Ricotta Salata (aka salted ricotta) is made from salted sheep’s milk that has been pressed and aged for three months. This type of ricotta is often used for snacking on or grating over a salad.
- Smoked ricotta is less common than the other types. Essentially, this semi-firm version of ricotta has been cold-smoked to infuse the cheese with a smoky flavor.
How Is It Made?
Fresh ricotta cheese is a form of whey cheese. For those who might not know, whey is the liquid that is pressed out of cheese curds during the manufacturing process. Instead of simply ditching the excess whey, Italian cheesemakers discovered that they could reheat it. The result was the creamy, delicious cheese curds of ricotta.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Most recipes don’t require an entire block of ricotta cheese. Therefore, many cheese lovers ask, ‘can I freeze ricotta cheese?’ The short answer is yes. However, you’ll have to keep reading to learn how best to do so, how to defrost frozen cheese, and how to make plenty of delicious recipes with the leftovers!
How Long Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Remember how we talked about the different types of ricotta? Well, the length of time you can freeze ricotta will depend entirely on which type of cheese you are working with.
Slices of basket ricotta or ricotta salata can be frozen for up to 3 months. And although it’s not recommended, fresh ricotta can be frozen for up to 1 to 3 months in an airtight freezer-safe container, However, the texture of the cheese will change, so frozen and defrosted ricotta will only work for certain recipes — it’s typically it’ll be better in cooked dishes vs. raw.
Note: Fresh ricotta cheese has high water content, therefore it may become watery and/or end up with a grainy texture when you defrost it, due to the excess water during the freezing and thawing process.
How To Freeze Ricotta Cheese
How to freeze ricotta cheese differs depending on the specific type. Below are the instructions for freezing the different types of ricotta cheese.
How To Freeze Fresh Ricotta
So, can ricotta cheese be frozen fresh? Although it technically can, its texture changes. Because fresh ricotta has a high moisture content, the freezing process will make its texture grainy and/or watery afterward. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be frozen!
Can You Freeze An Unopened Container Of Ricotta Cheese? Yes! You can freeze fresh ricotta in the original container, which oftentimes is a plastic tub. It’s already sealed and airtight so you can just pop it right in the freezer.
If You Are Working With Leftover Ricotta: If you have already opened the container of ricotta, you can’t freeze it in the container it came in without risking disease. But you can transfer its contents to a freezer-safe storage container and freeze it that way. For best results, follow these steps:
- Stir the ricotta so the water mixes evenly with the cheese curds.
- Transfer the ricotta to a freezer safe container or, you can freeze it in an ice cube tray for small portions that are easy to defrost and thaw.
- Cover the container with plastic wrap and then an airtight lid to avoid freezer burn, and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
How long does fresh ricotta last? An unopened container of ricotta cheese will come with an expiration date, and after you open it, I recommend using your cheese within a few days. Sometimes, fresh cheese has a shelf life of one week or longer, but I definitely wouldn’t use it after 5-7 days.
How To Freeze Basket Ricotta
Does ricotta cheese freeze well? Well, the good news is, basket ricotta freezes much better than its fresh counterpart. The easiest way to safely freeze this type of ricotta is to wrap the cheese tightly in plastic wrap and pop it into a freezer-safe storage bag. Then, you can freeze that bag for up to 3 months. Some people like to wrap the cheese in wax paper first so the plastic doesn’t touch the cheese, but there’s no wrong or right way.
How To Freeze Ricotta Salata
Just like basket ricotta, the best way to freeze Ricotta Salata is to wrap it in cling wrap, seal it up in plastic containers or plastic bags, and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How To Defrost Ricotta Cheese
Regardless of what kind of cheese you’re working with, I recommend one simple method for achieving defrosted ricotta. All you have to do is pop your frozen ricotta cheese in the fridge overnight. Easy as can be.
How To Thaw Ricotta In The Fridge: If you don’t have all night to defrost your ricotta, you can cut out a few hours by placing the sealed bag of cheese in a bowl of cold water and placing that bowl in the fridge. Using this method, your cheese should defrost in just a few hours.
Note: If your fresh ricotta cheese has become grainy and watery, vigorously stirring is the best way to recreate that creamy consistency we all know and love.
How Best To Use Thawed Ricotta
Have a bunch of thawed ricotta cheese on your hands? Need a simple and flavorful way to use it? Don’t worry, I have you covered. Thawed cheese is best reserved for cooked dishes like pasta recipes, lasagna, or pasta sauces.
Because the texture changes throughout the freezing process, I don’t recommend using leftover ricotta in salads or desserts. Additionally, it is always a good idea to try your best to enjoy fresh cheese while it is still fresh for the best results.
Best Substitutes For Ricotta Cheese
Need to find an alternative for ricotta cheese? Don’t worry, there are plenty. Here are some of the best swaps for ricotta cheese if you’re in a pinch.
- Cottage Cheese: Light and mild cottage cheese is an easy ricotta substitute that you can find in just about any grocery store. Ricotta is definitely a bit creamier (and therefore more indulgent), but the two cheeses share incredibly similar consistencies.
- Sour Cream: Sour cream is another good substitute for ricotta cheese, however, it does have a different texture. For this reason, this substitute works best for veggie dips and fruit dips.
- Goat Cheese: Goat cheese is a good ricotta substitute when it’s fresh. Generally, it’s more acidic than ricotta, so you might need to add a little something to enhance the sweetness.
- Cream Cheese: Cream cheese is one of the best options for a ricotta substitute because it has a similar texture and flavor. However, cream cheese has a higher density than ricotta, so you should also add some sour cream or an egg to keep it moist when using it as a substitute in cooked dishes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you’ll find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about freezing ricotta cheese:
It’s not a good (or very sanitary) idea to thaw dairy products on the counter. Why? Because room temperature is the perfect opportunity for potential bacteria growth. To avoid infection, you should always defrost ricotta cheese in the fridge. If you’re in a hurry, you can place the container in a bowl of room temperature water and place that in the fridge to speed up the thawing process.
A container of unopened ricotta cheese might stay fresh for two to four weeks. However, it depends on the specific batch. The expiration date is a good indicator of how long your ricotta cheese will last. If you’ve opened the container, it’s up to you to determine whether or not your cheese is still good. Signs ricotta cheese has gone bad are if it’s covered in mold or black spots, if you notice a change in color, or turning sour (which you can easily discern by smelling it – it will have a strong odor).
Yes! You can freeze a ricotta cheese mixture. However, I recommend doing so in smaller portions. Because many ricotta mixtures (including pasta fillings) contain ingredients that act as emulsifiers (like eggs), the separated liquid will not be as noticeable as with plain ricotta. Just freeze and defrost it the same way you would fresh ricotta, and feel free to drain any excess liquid as the ice crystals thaw.
You sure can! In fact, the egg will help hold everything together as the ricotta cheese freezes. To freeze ricotta cheese with an egg, seal it up in an airtight container and place it in the freezer for no longer than 2 months.
Absolutely! In fact, dishes like lasagna or baked pastas that contain ricotta freeze better than ricotta all on its own. Once your dish has cooled, place it in an airtight freezer safe container and put it in the freezer. It will keep for up to 2-3 months. To defrost, thaw in the fridge then reheat in the oven or microwave.
Yes! You would freeze homemade ricotta in the same way you’d freeze fresh ricotta. Transfer to a freezer safe container or into ice cube trays and freeze for up to 2 months.
More Recipes Using Ricotta!
Like I said, most recipes don’t call for an entire container of ricotta. Here are some scrumptious ways to use up leftover ricotta cheese:
I hope this guide to freezing ricotta cheese was helpful for you! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me a message or leave a comment below. I respond to every question I get!