If a whole container of ricotta is too much for the pasta filling you’re preparing, you need to store away the leftovers. And if you want them to last longer than a couple of days, freezing seems like the only option. Can you freeze ricotta cheese?
When it comes to freezing various types of cheese, there are usually two contradicting opinions out there. Some people say freezing that particular kind of cheese is okay, while others say the process ruins the texture and taste. In the case of ricotta cheese, well, both opinions have some truth to them.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese? When It Makes Sense To Do It?
Ricotta is one of the dairy products that even the producers are split when it comes to whether or not to freeze their product. While most cheese producers don’t encourage freezing any of their products, there are some out there that say you can freeze theirs, and ricotta specifically. Here’s what Sargento says about freezing this cheese (SA):
Sargento Ricotta cheese can also be frozen for up to two months, but freezing may affect the texture of the cheese.
The critical piece of information here is that freezing can affect the texture of ricotta. And that’s totally true. Once you defrost it, there will be some liquid separated, and the texture somewhat altered. Here’s how defrosted ricotta looks like:
As you can tell, there’s some separated liquid. You can stir that liquid back into the cheese (SA), or strain it. That’s up to you.
Of course, giving the thawed cheese a good stir won’t bring its texture back to how it was when it was fresh. And that’s why many people suggest that you should freeze ricotta only if you plan on using it in cooked dishes.
Have a specific dish with ricotta in mind? Instead of freezing the cheese by itself, consider cooking and freezing it. Or using all of the ricotta and freezing the leftovers.
When it comes to freezing this whey cheese and eating it fresh in a salad or a dessert, it’s a matter of personal preference, and how well your favorite brand of ricotta freezes. Feel free to give it a try, but make sure you do it when the stakes are low. In other words, it should be perfectly fine for things to go south taste-wise, and you having to discard the dish.
Now it’s time to talk about how this process goes.
How To Freeze Ricotta Cheese
The whole thing takes a couple of minutes tops, so there are no excuses for not doing it. Just grab the cheese and get going, you’ll be done in no time.
If you’re freezing a large piece of ricotta, think about how you’re going to use the cheese once thawed, and pick portion size that makes sense for that.
- Prep the cheese. If there’s some liquid in the container, put the cheese on a paper towel and let it strain. Then, cut it into portions if needed.
- Pack the ricotta. Choose freezer bags or airtight containers. If going with the bags, make sure they have no holes. I usually choose the containers because the cleanup is much more convenient (i.e., I don’t like washing freezer bags). If you find it useful, add some labels, so that you know what’s inside and how long it’s in the freezer.
- Transfer the ricotta into the freezer.
If you plan on keeping the ricotta in the freezer for a prolonged period, like more than a month, consider double wrapping the cheese. The easiest way to go about that is packing the portions into freezer bags, and then those bags into containers for additional protection.
Sargento says you can freeze their ricotta for up to two months (SA), but I’m pretty sure ricotta (in general) should turn out quite okay for even up to half a year.
How To Defrost Ricotta Cheese
Okay, so you have a container or bag of frozen ricotta that looks like this:
And you want to thaw it. Here are your options:
- In the fridge. The refrigerator is the recommended way of thawing food because it’s the safest. But it’s also the slowest, so you need to plan ahead. Depending on the potion size, you might need between a couple of hours and up to a whole day to fully thaw your ricotta.
- In cold water. Water conducts heat faster than air, so it’s an excellent way to speed things up. Use cold or lukewarm water. It’s safest to do the cold water thawing in the fridge, but if you’re in a hurry, doing it on the counter is also okay (although it won’t help that much). Just make sure you use all of the cheese once thawed, and keep the bag or container closed while defrosting.
- Drop it in frozen. If you’re using ricotta in a dish cooked on the stove, in some cases you might be able to add it in frozen and stir until it defrosts.
You can either stir the water separated from the cheese after thawing back to it, or get rid of it. Choose what makes the most sense for the dish you’re prepping.
How To Use Thawed Ricotta
They might not look like much, but I enjoyed them all the same.
Generally speaking, most if not all cooked dishes will be perfect for frozen and defrosted ricotta. Here are some ideas you might find helpful:
- Pasta dishes. Most people use ricotta in pasta dishes either way. Some ideas include lasagna, ravioli, or mac and cheese.
- Savory dishes like pizza or calzone.
- Cakes and baked goods. Cheesecakes and cheese-filled cookies are the most popular options.
- Pancakes. Yup, ricotta can be used in pancakes too.