Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese? How To Keep your Cheese Fresh
If you’re like me, you purchase fresh food in large quantities that you may not use up all at once. So, you’re always searching for safe, hygienic and creative ways to store and lengthen the shelf life of your foods. One of the questions mostly asked is can you freeze ricotta cheese? Picture how excited I was to discover that, yes, you can freeze cheese too! Anyway, keep reading to find out more.
I Love cheese! So does my entire family! Whenever we are having Macaroni and Cheese for dinner, my daughter always asks for more cheese. Her favorite phrase being, “More cheese please?”
Well, though you can freeze cheese, not all types of cheese are suitable for long life preservation in the freezer. The best cheese to freeze is the firm type, like Gouda or Cheddar.
Ricotta Cheese is not the least expensive type of cheese. Add to the fact that it only seems to come in large quantities, you’ll always have a lot of it leftover.
What Is Ricotta Cheese?
The name ricotta literally means ‘cooked again’. Traditional Italian cheese makers made ricotta cheese from whey, the foamy and watery substance that is a bi- product in the production of mozzarella and provolone cheese. This whey is gathered, re- cooked and drained until what is left is the delectable creamy fine curds we call ricotta cheese.
Ricotta cheese can easily be mistaken for cottage cheese, but it has a more delicate consistency of fine, moist, delicate granules. It is firm but melts easily, is pearly white in color, and slightly sweet to the taste. It is also highly perishable, and its proper preservation for longevity is important.
Ricotta cheese has five times more calcium than the cottage cheese, and can be eaten as it is with salt, pepper and fresh herbs. Popularly used in lasagna and other Italian meal and dessert recipes, this soft, creamy dairy product is used in other traditional Italian pasta meals like manicotti, cannelloni and ravioli, desserts such as muffins, cheesecakes and tarts, in salads and dips.
Spoilt for culinary choice, try it with honey and fruits like tangerines and melons, or spread it on bagels, sweet rolls and crusty Italian bread for an amazing low- fat healthy treat.
So, Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Yes, you can freeze ricotta cheese.
The taste will not be altered in any way, but its key feature, the soft creamy texture, may succumb to physical changes when frozen. Frozen cheese is therefore best used for cooking purposes, where the texture change will not affect the meal’s end result.
Interestingly, whole milk ricotta freezes better as the high fat content retains the natural creaminess, while low fat skim milk ricotta tends to get dehydrated and crumbles when frozen and subsequently thawed.
Freezing Ricotta Cheese
I always freeze my ricotta cheese in airtight sealable containers, aluminum foil, plastic wrap or freezer bags, and of course, fresh ricotta cheese. If your cheese is near or has passed its sell by date, it is not suitable for preservation.
To maintain the high quality of my cheese, I separate any large portions into serving sizes no larger than eight ounces before freezing. I spoon the ricotta cheese into ice cube trays and transfer these small frozen blocks into my preferred storage packages for recipes that require only small amounts of cheese.
Perhaps you prefer to freeze a large tub of ricotta cheese- go ahead. If you have not opened the tub of cheese, simply put it away in the freezer.
If you wish to freeze in larger quantities, spoon the desired amounts into the freezer bags or plastic wraps to be placed in containers, and seal the package tightly. Ensure that you take out all the air from the bags before sealing them. You may also freeze the ricotta cheese in its original container, and drain off any excess whey before sealing the container, as the excess whey can cause the cheese to turn sour.
To avoid potential freeze burns on your containers, place them in heavy duty freezer bags too.
Label the bag or container with the date of freezing, and the contents. Place the container or freezer bag near the wall of the freezer, and avoid placing it near the door, as the temperature fluctuates with the constant opening and closing.
The freezing temperatures should be zero degrees Fahrenheit and below, which is ideal for keeping frozen foods safe to eat, indefinitely.
While freezing will not affect the quality of your ricotta, the taste, color and texture may change and make the cheese less suitable for recipes that call for fresh cheese, and best for cooked recipes, as happens with many dairy products. If frozen properly as described above, you can store your frozen ricotta cheese for up to three months.
Thawing Frozen Ricotta Cheese
When you are ready to use it, the safest way to thaw your ricotta cheese is in the refrigerator for a day or so. Thawing it on the countertop or pantry is a no- no! Your cheese will spoil when it is exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or more, due to growth and multiplication of bacteria.
Once thawed, I always notice some subtle changes in the texture of my creamy cheese. It is usually grainier, as the curd and whey is separated during the freezing process, and there is usually some liquid on top after thawing. What I do is simply blend the ricotta with a spoon to combine any separated curds and whey, and use it as soon as possible. If some liquid is retained after blending, I drain it out, and my cheese is ready for the meal prep.
Any unused portion can be stored in the refrigerator and used within seven days. Should your ricotta cheese change to a yellowish color and has a not- so- delectable odor, this is a sign that it’s ready disposal.
I have found another option to freezing your ricotta cheese. It is better when you cook the dish first—for instance, lasagna, ricotta pie, manicotti, gnocchi, ricotta stuffed pies and ricotta calzones, then freezing it. This pre- cooked meal method helps to retain the texture of creamy ricotta cheese a lot better than when freezing it directly.
You can do this by cutting your lasagna or pie into meal sized portions, wrapping each portion with plastic wrap or wax paper, and placing each of these portions into giant freezer bags- and into the freezer.
This is a convenient way of preserving pasta meals, as when you’ll require a snack or meal, all you need is to pick out your desired portions for thawing and heating.
Remember to always thaw your foods in your refrigerator. Right before you reheat your meal, add a small amount of water if you notice that the sauce has absorbed into the pasta. When using the microwave, cover the meal with a plastic wrap or wax paper, or use aluminum foil if you will be heating it in an oven.
Some desserts made from ricotta cheese, such as cheesecakes, may also be safely frozen, though not for beyond a month.
Preparation Ideas For Your Thawed Ricotta Cheese
Your thawed ricotta is now ready for a fabulous meal.
There are many recipes you can try out with your frozen ricotta cheese. Experiment with ricotta cheese spread on toast and topped with sliced radishes. You can also top it with some caramelized onions, making for a healthy quick brunch when you are in a hurry.
For a snack or light dinner, pair your ricotta with sweet potato and arugula flatbread. Prepare popsicle treats by blending ricotta with fresh fruits like blueberries and strawberries, pouring them into a popsicle mold and freezing them for a delicious creamy fruit treat.
Did you know you can also make your own Ricotta cheese at home?
Finally, to conclusively answer the question, can you freeze ricotta cheese? Yes you can freeze cheese, and ricotta cheese freezes well. Storing it in a freezer can safely extend its shelf life to three months.
When freezing it, place the cheese in an airtight container or freezer bag after draining any excess whey, as it can cause the cheese to taste sour.