Ricotta cheese comes with a shelf life of about 2 weeks and usually lasts for an extra couple of days past the “expiration” date.
That means your unopened container that’s three days past its date should be fine. Feel free to open it up and check against the signs of spoilage I discuss later in the article.
Once you open the container, you should finish the cheese within 3 to 5 days, although some sellers say ricotta stays good for up to a week of opening.
Again, you need to know how to tell if ricotta is bad if you’re about to eat one that’s open for more than a couple of days.
Want to know more?
Read this article to learn all about the shelf life, storage practices, and signs of spoilage of ricotta.
How Long Does Ricotta Cheese Last?
Unopened ricotta cheese usually lasts for a couple of days past its date. Once you open the container, you should finish it in less than a week. The faster you consume it, the better the quality.
That’s the gist of it. Let’s talk details.
The shelf life of ricotta is, similar to the shelf life of cottage cheese, around two weeks. That means buying a dozen containers in advance, unless you have specific plans for them, isn’t that great of an idea.
Each container has a date printed on it. Usually, it’s a “use-by” date, and it’s a good starting point.
Is the ricotta cheese bad if it’s past that date? Not necessarily.
If you keep it refrigerated at all times and put it in the fridge right when you return home from the supermarket, chances are it’ll keep for like 3 to 5 more days. Don’t expect miracles, though.
If your unopened ricotta is over a week past its date, discard it.
When it comes to open ricotta, it retains quality for about a week if you store it in an airtight container in the fridge ([SAP]).
If the container your ricotta cheese comes in isn’t resealable, transfer the leftovers to a plastic or glass food container.
Of course, how long it is until the date on the label also plays a role. If it’s around two weeks until its “use-by” date, it should last that whole week, maybe even longer.
But if it’s already near (or even past) that date, finish it within 2 to 3 days tops.
If your opened ricotta sits in the fridge for longer than a week, it’s probably safer to get rid of it.
If those periods aren’t long enough for your needs, freezing ricotta is an option (check out my article titled “Can you freeze ricotta cheese?“). And, in case you were wondering, you can freeze cottage cheese too.
|Ricotta cheese (unopened)
|“Use-by” date + 3 – 5 days
|Ricotta cheese (opened)
|3 – 7 days
Please note the periods above are only estimates.
How Do You Know That Ricotta Cheese Has Gone Bad?
Now that you know all about storage times, it’s time to talk about signs of spoilage.
If you’re opening ricotta near or past its date, or resuming one that sits in the fridge for a few days already, give it a check before eating.
The first thing to remember is that the ingredients in ricotta can separate a bit ([CFS]). Many people get concerned when they see some water or gel-like substance on top (see my photo below). Don’t worry, the dairy product is fine. All you need to do is stir it and use as normal ([CFS]).
Now let’s talk about the actual signs of spoilage. Those include:
- Mold or black spots. If you can spot either, throw out the cheese. It doesn’t happen all that often, but who knows, it might happen to you.
- Change of color. If your ricotta is turning yellow or orange, it’s time to let it go.
- Cheese turns sour. If it starts to smell or taste sour, technically, it’s not spoiled, but you won’t like it. And it might ruin your recipe, so it’s best to get rid of it.
Like most other dairy products, if ricotta cheese looks, smells, and tastes okay, it probably is. If there’s something wrong, even if it’s not on the list above, play it safe and discard the product.
If in a pinch, cream cheese is a decent ricotta substitute in some cases. And if you’re cooking a sweet dish, you can probably use mascarpone instead of ricotta.
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