Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Can you freeze ricotta cheese? Yes – yes, you can! In this post, we will go over how to freeze/preserve ricotta cheese and answer additional questions like should you freeze it and what to do with ricotta cheese after it’s been frozen.
If you got more tubs of ricotta than you needed for a cannelloni recipe, tossing them in the trash is not a financially wise decision. Sure, you can always store it in the fridge, but if you really want the cheese to last for a long time, you might be tempted to throw it in the freezer instead. That’s when you start googling, “can you freeze ricotta cheese?“.
Good news for all the fellow ricotta cheese fans out there: you can freeze ricotta cheese. However, even though it does freeze, you must know how it changes after being subjected to such a temperature drop. Want to know more? Then read on!
But… Should You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
For both amateur cooks and cheese connoisseurs, the topic of whether or not ricotta cheese should be frozen is up for debate as it is not a cheese to play fast and loose with. Some agree, some don’t, and honestly, we understand why.
Ricotta cheese is a fresh, soft cheese, and it is well known in the dairy world that the fresher a cheese is, the less advisable it is to freeze it. Once frozen and then thawed, its structure will change, and it will lose some of its original texture and flavor.
If those changes worry you, you can still freeze ricotta cheese, but ideally, you should only freeze it for a short period to preserve most of its qualities.
Potential Issues With Freezing Ricotta
Remember the changes cottage cheese undergoes after freezing? If not, here’s a quick recap: drastic. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen with ricotta cheese. While its texture and flavor do change a bit, it’s not a dramatic difference. Let’s review them.
Changes in Texture
Ricotta cheese is soft, with a thick and slightly grainy texture. That texture is its main feature, but unfortunately, part of it changes when it is subjected to extremely low temperatures. Its small curds separate from the liquid, and the slightly grainy mouthfeel becomes even more grainy. In addition, it will lose some of its moisture.
As usual, the higher the fat content in cheese, the better it will freeze, and the same applies to ricotta cheese. Can ricotta cheese be frozen if it is made with skim milk? Sure, but it will not freeze in the same way as whole milk ricotta.
High-fat whole milk ricotta is the best candidate for freezing because the richness of the milk fat will help maintain some of its original creaminess. Low-fat skim milk ricotta is more likely to become grainy and unappetizing — for some.
Changes in Flavor
The change in flavor of ricotta cheese after it is frozen is even less dramatic than the change in texture — it is almost imperceptible. The mild, slightly nutty, and sweet taste will remain as long as it is frozen for less than 2 months. After the 2-month mark, the flavor will likely begin to turn flat and reveal notes of, well, lipid oxidation.
Nothing overly disappointing or gross, it will just lose some of its magic.
How to Freeze Ricotta Cheese
Knowing how to freeze ricotta cheese is crucial if you want to do it the right way. If yours is unopened, the best way to freeze it is in the same container it came in to protect it from freezer burn. But if you’ve already used some of your ricotta and want to freeze the leftovers, follow these steps:
- Stir the ricotta to even the texture, then remove it from its original container and pat it dry with some paper towels. The water content in the ricotta is what makes it smooth and delicious, but it’s also what can cause problems when freezing it.
- Portion it and put it in plastic airtight containers or freezer bags, squeezing out all the air. By having several small portions instead of a large one, you will be able to thaw the exact amount you need for any recipe without thawing a whole batch.
- Label the portions with the date you froze them — bonus step, but very useful to know when to discard the cheese —, and finally, pop them in the freezer. As easy as pie!
If you need even smaller portions, some recommend freezing the cheese in ice cube trays. But does ricotta cheese freeze well in ice cube trays? Surprisingly, it does! They’re a great addition to a hot sauce or soup.
To have your own little ricotta cheese cubes, just follow the steps above, but instead of placing the ricotta cheese in a plastic container, you’ll need to:
- Pour it into the ice cube tray without going all the way to the edge — to allow it to expand once it’s frozen.
- Wrap the tray in a freezer bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.
- Put it in the freezer. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
How Long Will Ricotta Last in the Freezer?
Ricotta can last up to 6 months in the freezer, but the fact that it can last that long does not mean that you should let it reach the 6-month mark. It is best to freeze it for up to 3 months max, because, after the second month, the flavor and texture start to deteriorate noticeably. The less time you freeze it, the more the quality will be preserved.
How to Thaw and Use Ricotta Cheese
The first thawing method that most people think of is to leave the cheese on the counter, but in the case of ricotta — and any other dairy product —, that’s the worst thing you can do. Ricotta cheese is a highly perishable food, so leaving it at room temperature for more than two hours is not recommended. The only safe methods to thaw it are:
- In the fridge. Transferring from the freezer to the fridge is the preferred way to thaw pretty much anything — including ricotta cheese — because it is the safest. However, it is also the slowest, so you should transfer the cheese a few hours before you need to use it. Depending on the size of the potion, your ricotta cheese may need anywhere from a couple of hours to a full day to thaw completely.
- In a bowl of water. We’re taught in school that water conducts heat faster than air, so it’s a great alternative to the “countertop method” and a good way to speed things up if you’re in a hurry. We suggest you use a bowl of cold or lukewarm water and submerge your ricotta cheese all the way in, replacing the water every 5 minutes — or whenever you feel it’s getting too cold. Just make sure the container the ricotta cheese is in is tightly sealed and doesn’t have any holes in it.
Pro-Tip: If you freeze a dish with ricotta cheese and after thawing it you notice that it has lost most of its moisture, you can add some water to it and heat it in the oven or microwave. If you do it in the oven, cover the dish with aluminum foil, and if you do it in the microwave, cover it with a microwave-safe wrap. After a few minutes, they will recover their water content — and their yumminess.
Now when it comes to using thawed ricotta cheese, it’s worth mentioning that ricotta is best when used fresh, but you can also use it frozen in soups or salsas or thawed in baked goods, such as:
- Pancakes, etc.
Another frequently asked question is, “can you freeze ricotta cheese again after thawing it?” and the answer is no, you should not refreeze it. If you do, its texture and flavor will be completely ruined. BTW, thawed ricotta cheese can last in the fridge for up to 3 days, so it’s best to thaw it in small portions or use it ASAP.
How Can I Tell If Ricotta Cheese Has Gone Bad After Freezing?
One of the first signs that your frozen ricotta cheese has gone bad or is about to go bad is if it changes color. Ricotta is as white as snow, so if it starts to develop a pinkish or deep yellowish color, it means it is starting to spoil. If its color has completely changed, it is no longer safe to eat.
Another way to tell if your ricotta cheese has gone bad after freezing is by tasting it or smelling it. This cheese has a fresh smell and mild taste, but if yours has a fermented smell or sour taste, it’s time to let it go. Eating spoiled cheese is never a smart move!
Is It Better To Freeze Ricotta By Itself Or In A Mixture?
The #1 issue with freezing ricotta cheese will always be that when you put it in the freezer, it will separate, and its texture will change. However, there is a way to prevent this from happening, and that is not to freeze it by itself, but in a mixture.
Long story short, it is better to freeze ricotta cheese in a mixture or once it has already been integrated into a dish because it will be less likely to separate or dry out. You may need to drain some excess liquid when thawing, but other than that, in general, it is a good way to preserve ricotta cheese and its soft texture.
Can You Freeze The Ricotta Mixture For Lasagna?
There is hardly anything better than a sizzling, stretchy, mouth-watering lasagna filled with the finest ricotta cheese you can find. Making it is a rewarding process, so much so that you can often get carried away and end up with more ricotta mixture than you needed in the first place.
We know you’ve been there, and if you’re wondering whether or not you can freeze the mixture, there’s good news: you can! Just make sure you’re storing it properly in an airtight container.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese With Egg In It?
Egg is used as an emulsifier and binding agent in almost any mixture, but can you freeze ricotta cheese with egg in it? Yes, you can freeze even that mixture. It is completely safe and even beneficial to the cheese, as the egg holds the solids and liquids together. It will not allow separation, let alone the ricotta to get too dry.
Can You Freeze The Ricotta And Spinach Mixture?
Have you ever had spinach and ricotta ravioli? They are amazingly delicious, and if you make them from scratch, even more. Preparing the mixture of both ingredients is quite easy, but once you have it ready, can you freeze ricotta and spinach mixture?
Like almost any mixture that includes ricotta cheese, yes, you can freeze it. That way, you can make ravioli — and any other ricotta and spinach dish — every week!