Everyone should know how to use ricotta cheese. Its primary purpose is to make desserts like cheesecake, but it’s used in many savory dishes. However, one of the common questions is “can you freeze ricotta cheese?”. Continue reading for answers.
You can freeze ricotta cheese. It will get quite a bit watery, but if you make sure to squeeze the liquid out before freezing it, that won’t be an issue. Ricotta is best when used fresh, but you can also use frozen Ricotta for baking and blending into soups or casseroles.
Ricotta is a popular ingredient for lasagna and other recipes, but the texture and flavor can be affected if frozen. While the change in texture and some added liquid may not make it suitable for some dishes, like cannoli, freezing ricotta cheese will not ruin it completely.
Although the Food and Drug Administration warns that freezing ricotta cheese can damage the texture, this is not true for all types of Ricotta. Ricotta comes in two main varieties: fresh and aged. Fresh Ricotta is more delicate than aged, making it less suitable for freezing. However, aged Ricotta can be frozen without damaging the texture or taste.
What Is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta cheese is an Italian whey cheese made from sheep, cow, goat or Italian water buffalo milk leftover from other cheeses. Like other whey cheeses, it is caused by coagulating the proteins that remain after the casein has been used to make cheese.
It’s an excellent option for lactose intolerant (since most of the lactose in whey is removed during the heating process) or looking to reduce the amount of fat in their diet. Unlike most cheeses, Ricotta is lactose-free, meaning any lactose-intolerant consumers out there can enjoy—without the digestive side effects.
Fresh Ricotta has a slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture ideal for use in various desserts and savory dishes, from cheesecakes to lasagnas and pizza.
Additionally, Ricotta cheese is widely known as one of the secret ingredients to bring lightness to baked goods and other dishes. Ricotta has a mild flavor that can be sweet or savory depending on how it’s prepared, and it can take on other flavors when used for cooking.
Although, many people think ricotta cheese is just an Italian version of cottage cheese. It’s not. While they both get their start from the same basic process, Ricotta is a unique and delicious cheese in its own right.
Types of Ricotta Cheese
There are many different types of ricotta cheese, each with unique flavors that are perfect for different applications.
Fresh ricotta cheese
Fresh Ricotta is an Italian and European style of ricotta cheese. Depending on the recipe, it is made in a process similar to how yogurt is made and can be sweet or savory. It has a delicate, creamy, and slightly grainy texture with a mildly sweet flavor that intensifies with age and is often described as light and airy.
It is smooth, creamy, and slightly tart. Also, it has a loose, velvety texture and can be made from 100% cow’s milk or with a combination of cow and goat’s milk. Fresh Ricotta is mild in flavor, fluffy and moist, and can be used in sweet and savory dishes. The texture might be slightly different, sometimes drier than store-bought Ricotta.
Fresh Ricotta is the most common way to find Ricotta in supermarkets, but it also has a brief life span; you should eat within 4 to 7 days.
Dry ricotta cheese
Dry Ricotta is a semi-firm, white cheese with a slightly sweet, milky flavor and grainy texture. This Ricotta is made by slowly bubbling off the moisture in drained whole milk ricotta to concentrate its flavors and firm up its texture. These granules are easily crumbled in hand.
Dry ricotta cheese is traditionally produced in the south of Italy. It’s ideal for baking and has a firmer consistency than its wet counterpart. The texture of dry ricotta cheese can be smooth and thick. You can use it just like regular Ricotta for lasagna, baked ziti, or calzones. It is also delicious spread on crackers and flatbread.
Dry ricotta cheese can be substituted for harder cheeses like Cotija and Romano in recipes. When grated, it’s also an excellent topper for freshly grilled bread, salad, and pasta.
Salted Ricotta is a fresh cheese that benefits from a short aging process, such as its close relative’s mozzarella and provolone. Freshly made salted Ricotta has a moist grainy texture, with a pleasantly milky flavor mixed with the salt.
It is widely used in salads and antipasti, but equally at home in pasta dishes, soups, pizza, torta Pasqualino, or fruit. Unfortunately, the salting and aging make it too firm for fresh sweet cheese.
The texture and taste of Ricotta vary depending on the type used to make it. Ricotta Salata, for example, is a drier version that’s often crumbled and used as a garnish.
Smoked Ricotta is a type of cheese that is semi-dry and firm enough to slice. It is excellent for cooking and grilling. You can use it for pasta dishes, pizza, tomato sauce, soups, seafood, salads, sandwiches, and dressings.
It is a hard cheese aged anywhere from 60 days to six months. Although its flavor is arguable milder than other smoked cheeses, it has a firm but creamy texture with less acidity than fresh Ricotta.
How to Freeze Ricotta Cheese
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Freezing ricotta cheese is an effective method to preserve leftover portions, but not all types of Ricotta adapt well to being frozen. In addition, Ricotta kept in the freezer for too long can lose moisture and develop a crumbly texture that can ruin recipes.
There is a little change in the texture of the ricotta cheese after being frozen. The best way to freeze ricotta cheese is to use an airtight freezer-safe storage container or bag.
If you need to store ricotta cheese in your refrigerator for more than a week, it’s smart to freeze it. Not only does this safeguard the milk product from spoiling, but it also ensures that after thawing, the cheese will be just about as fresh as when you bought it.
To freeze your ricotta cheese, you’ll want to place it in a container that’s easily stackable and sealable. I recommend a plastic container or a freezer-safe zip-top bag. Avoid glass containers because they can be heavy and take up too much space in the freezer.
Here is a simple step by step guide:
1. Place the ricotta cheese in a freezer bag or container.
2. Seal the bag or container and move any excess air out of it, if possible.
3. Place the ricotta cheese in your freezer, away from everyday items.
4. Thaw the ricotta cheese as you need it by letting it thaw completely in your refrigerator before using it.
However, Ricotta is perishable and has a relatively short shelf-life; freezing the Ricotta will help it to retain its original flavor and consistency for several months. Although, freezing can change the texture. Like other crumbly cheeses, ricotta cheese changes its texture when you freeze it. It becomes kind of grainy and separated when thawed.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese After Opening?
If you’ve opened a tub of ricotta cheese and decided not to use it all, you can freeze ricotta cheese for up to 2-3 months. Put the leftover Ricotta in a freezer-safe container or Ziploc bag and squeeze out any excess air. Transfer the Ricotta to your refrigerator to thaw overnight, then use it as you would normally.
While it’s easy to freeze ricotta cheese right in the original container, transfer it to a resealable plastic freezer bag once it’s frozen. (Freezing in the original container means having to thaw the entire tub before scooping out any amount after the cheese is frozen.)
It’s best to use your refrigerated ricotta cheese within 10 days of opening it.
Unfortunately, when opened, Ricotta is frozen for an extended period, about 2 months, the texture and flavor are compromised. Therefore, only freeze Ricotta if needed for a recipe or meal that has been prepared but will not be consumed immediately as thawed Ricotta will not perform well in other dishes or recipes.
Can You Freeze an Unopened Container of Ricotta Cheese?
You can freeze an unopened container of ricotta cheese by placing the whole sealed container into the freezer. It will not go rancid so far. It is not over-frozen and is kept in a cold environment at all times.
If you seral it tightly in an airtight container for it to last up to 5-6 months
It’s possible that the texture will change, but it’s still safe to eat after freezing and defrosting. You could manually separate the whey before freezing, which may help maintain the texture, but only do what you have time for.
However, Whole milk ricotta is best frozen right before its sell-by date, but if your container has already gone past, you should use it up rather than freeze it. If you plan to freeze the Ricotta, open the container and check that the cheese has a smooth texture. It probably won’t do well when frozen if it’s grainy or watery.
Freezing food is entirely safe — as long as you follow some basic rules. For anything you plan to freeze, it’s essential to do so correctly and safely to prevent the growth of bacteria. The FDA recommends that you don’t freeze foods in their original packaging, only containers marked safe for freezing.
Can You Freeze Cooked Ricotta Cheese?
You can freeze cooked ricotta cheese. You must first stir the Ricotta until it is smooth in texture. Next, package the Ricotta in heavy-duty freezer bags and seal tightly. Place pouches on a cookie sheet and place the tray in the freezer.
Meanwhile, If the ricotta cheese is homemade, it will freeze better than factory-made ones because fewer preservatives are added to homemade varieties.
It’s best to freeze it in the smallest portions possible to make defrosting easier. Ricotta cheese has a relatively high moisture content, making it less suitable for freezing, but it will keep for a few months if done correctly.
You may lose some of the texture and flavor after putting it in the freezer for no more than 2-3 months and thawing it in the refrigerator. Also, freezing it may break down the cheese and cause some moisture separation, but it will still work fine in cooking recipes as long as you thaw it completely.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheesecake?
It is possible to freeze ricotta cheese and the cheesecake batter itself. However, cheesecake becomes watery and crumbly when frozen and thawed. So for best results, freeze unfrosted cheesecakes only if required and make sure to give them time to defrost before serving.
It can become watery and lose flavor when thawed. Wrap well in plastic wrap and then in a heavy-duty freezer bag, so no air touches it.
Before serving, thaw cheesecake in the refrigerator for 24 to 36 hours; cheesecake must be thawed entirely for best flavor and texture. If your cheesecake contains fruit or other garnishes, decorate just before serving.
Also, you need to consider which ingredients you will use in your recipe if you intend to freeze. For example, if you use a mixture of eggs and ricotta cheese, it will be easier to make a good-tasting cake than if you use just eggs or just ricotta cheese.
Note: Freezing ricotta cheese can help extend its life and keep it spoiling. However, it’s essential to understand that freezing Ricotta will change the texture of the cheese more than some other varieties. It is because Ricotta is a soft, crumbly cheese.
Can You Freeze Cooked Lasagna with Ricotta Cheese?
You can freeze lasagna with ricotta cheese. Cover tightly with foil and thoroughly. The cooked lasagna should be good in the freezer for up to 2-3 months; After this month, the flavor might not be as good as fresh.
If possible, finish baking your lasagna first to help ensure that it will reheat evenly later. You can also put cooked lasagna directly into the oven from the freezer to bake.
Always double wrap the lasagna in plastic when freezing. Be sure to remove all the air in the plastic wrap and avoid contamination. Lasagna will be best eaten within 1 to 3 months if properly frozen and stored.
Can You Freeze Italian Ricotta Cookies?
Just before freezing, place your cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet—place in the freezer for one hour. Then remove it from the freezer and place it in a freezer bag or other airtight container.
To freeze it, carefully arrange the cookies in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer until firm. Then, transfer to an airtight container or zipper-lock bag, and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
But be careful when you thaw them. If there is any moisture on the cookies, they will be mushy. The best way to thaw them is by spreading them out on a baking sheet in the fridge until they reach room temperature. Depending on how many cookies you have spread out, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
Note: The cookies should not be frozen in airtight containers or bags, as the moisture can cause them to become crumbly and soft. Instead, freeze them loosely in a pan and store them in sealed containers or bags once they’re completely frozen.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese with Egg in It?
You can certainly freeze ricotta cheese with egg in it. However, make sure you pack it well so that the liquid doesn’t leak out of the container. If the container isn’t airtight, place a piece of plastic wrap over the top before putting the lid on it. And make sure your freezer is at zero degrees F or lower so that the Ricotta will freeze quickly and thoroughly.
To defrost, place the frozen ricotta cheese with an egg on a plate and let it remain at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours.
However, egg in ricotta cheese tends to separate and get watery when thawed and heated.
Although, It is not recommended to freeze ricotta cheese with egg in it. The egg can become grainy, rubbery, and chewy when frozen. Also, it is not recommended to substitute thawed eggs for fresh eggs in baking recipes, but they are great for cooked recipes such as frittatas or omelets.
How To Defrost Ricotta Cheese
You can freeze Ricotta cheese for up to three months, but when it comes time to thaw that delicious tub of ricotta cheese you tucked away in your freezer three months ago, there are some things you should know. The following are the two major ways to defrost Ricotta Cheese.
In the fridge
To defrost ricotta cheese:
- Place it in an airtight container.
- Take it from the freezer and put it in the fridge overnight to defrost slowly.
- If you are short on time, fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the sealed container in it for about 30 minutes.
Ricotta is delicate, so take care not to squeeze it too hard when removing it from the refrigerator. If your Ricotta has an airtight seal, do not open it until the cheese has thawed completely; otherwise, water can leach into the cheese and affect the texture.
On the counter
Bring cheese to room temperature. It is especially useful if you’re looking to drizzle your cheese over some pasta, lasagne, or a pizza. To thaw Ricotta cheese, place the sealed container of Ricotta on the counter for about an hour. This method works best when the Ricotta isn’t frozen solid and is soft to touch, meaning you’re able to squeeze it out of its packaging without much effort.
To defrost in a hurry:
- Take the still-wrapped Ricotta from its package and place it in a large bowl.
- Fill the bowl with cold water, turn the cheese over every 15 minutes, and change the water as it becomes warm.
- When the cheese has thawed, squeeze out any excess water to prepare for use.
Uses for Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese is a versatile cow’s milk cheese that can be used for sweet and savory dishes. With its grainy texture, mildly milky flavor, and nice stable consistency, it’s great to use with baked pasta or stuffed pasta such as cannoli or ravioli.
You can also smooth out Ricotta with a food processor, make sauces to dress your pasta dishes or use them in desserts like cheesecake. Ricotta also makes a delicious dip when blended with herbs and garlic.
It works best in dishes that can meld seamlessly into a sauce to add creaminess, as in lasagna and most baked pasta dishes. Or try these crowd-pleasing ricotta cheesecake recipes that take simple ingredients and leave you with a decadent dessert.
However, Ricotta can be used in place of cottage cheese, but be aware that it’s less crumbly and has a more delicate flavor.
Can You Freeze Ricotta and Spinach Mixture?
You can freeze the ricotta and spinach mixture for up to 1 month. Store in freezer bags or airtight containers with as little air as possible. Allow the frozen mixture to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before use.
While you can freeze Ricotta by itself, the act of freezing can radically alter the texture and consistency, making it grainy and crumbly compared to its original smooth consistency.
However, The taste and texture of the cheese may be altered slightly by the freezing process, so if you are planning to freeze ricotta cheese, make sure to use it in recipes where this would not be noticeable.
How Long Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
You can freeze ricotta cheese for two to three months. Label the container with the date written on it, so you’ll know how long it’s been in your freezer.
A freezer-safe container at 0° is ideal, but a refrigerator set at under 40° will also work. Ricotta cheese can be frozen in airtight, freezer-safe containers for three months.
The best way to freeze Ricotta is in small portion sizes, so if you’re planning on using it for baking or cooking later, freezing large staples is always better in the long run. Then it becomes a piece of cake (or lasagna) to pull out the small portion you need for whatever recipe you’re creating.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends using leftovers within four days, but ricotta cheese can last longer in the freezer.
However, you can freeze fresh or cottage-type Ricotta for up to 2 months and parmesan- or romano-type cheeses for up to 6 months.
Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese?
Mozzarella in its original packaging can be frozen for up to 2 months. However, it is best suited for cooking or baking once thawed as freezing alters the texture. You can also freeze prepared foods containing Mozzarellas like lasagna, stuffed shells, or pizza for up to 3 months.
Additionally, shredded or sliced packaged mozzarella is best for freezing and should not be refrozen once it has been thawed.
Meanwhile, when you freeze mozzarella cheese, the moisture in the cheese will separate from the fat and solidify, resulting in a less smooth texture when thawed; however, this won’t make the mozzarella unsafe to use.
Can You Freeze Cottage Cheese?
You can freeze cottage cheese, but it could split if not stored properly. To ensure a quality product when you thaw it and start using it, store it in a vacuum-sealed bag or container.
In the refrigerator, fresh cottage cheese stored in a sealed container should keep for about 7-10 days and 10-14 days for cooked cottage cheese.
This process can drastically alter the flavor and texture. Cottage cheese already has a unique texture and flavor. It’s unlikely you’d like how it’s altered by freezing.
Can you freeze ricotta cheese? Cheese is delicate, and it doesn’t have a long shelf life, so when you get around to making it and getting the pitfall of failed ricotta recipes out of the way, you should eat your creation as soon as possible. However, if that’s not possible, follow the tip you have read to freeze the cheese, whether open or unopen, cook or uncooked. The result will be even smoother, more delicious cheese when you do.
- 1 Pot
- 1 Bowl
- 1/2 gallon whole milk
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pour the milk into a 4-quart pot and cook it over medium heat until it reaches 200°F. Using an instant read thermometer, watch the temperature rise steadily to 200°F. Remove the milk from the fire if it begins to boil since it will become frothy and start to steam.
- Add salt and lemon juice: Take the milk from the stove. Salt and lemon juice (or vinegar, or citric acid) should be added. Gently blend by stirring.
- Allow the milk to sit for 10 minutes: Allow the milk to sit in the pot unattended for 10 minutes. Dip your slotted spoon into the mixture after this time to see if the milk has split into clumps of milky white curds and thin, watery, yellow whey. Add another tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar and wait a few more minutes if you still notice a lot of milk that hasn’t been separated.
- sift the curds: Over a bowl, place a strainer that is lined with cheese cloth. With a slotted spoon, remove the large curds from the pot and place them in the sieve. Through the sieve, pour the remaining curds and whey.
- Ricotta should drain for 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how wet or dry you like your ricotta. Drain the curds for 10 to 60 minutes. Before using or storing the ricotta, you can also whisk some of the whey back in if it gets too dry.
- Utilize or keep the ricotta: Fresh ricotta can be consumed right once or kept chilled for up to a week in an airtight container.