Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese and Not Ruin It? (Quick Guide and Tips)
Ricotta cheese can be used in a variety of recipes and is a versatile Italian whey cheese loved by a majority of people. White and creamy, ricotta cheese possesses a subtle sweetness and is superficially similar to cottage cheese in texture and appearance. But can you freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Well, before even thinking about freezing the cheese there are some important considerations that you need to keep in mind. While it can be used as a side dish, snack, appetizer, or as a main dish, you need to be sure that it is well taken care of before you plan to freeze it.
What is Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta Cheese is a creamy and watery dairy product made up from skimmed milk or fine curd. This is generally considered as a byproduct of leftover whey from other cheese. However, you can also make ricotta in your home from simple ingredients such as lemon juice and milk.
This is a smoother cheese as compared to cottage cheese and has a smooth texture and a faintly sweet flavor. A good ricotta cheese should be composed of fine and moist granules and must be firm.
The word Ricotta means “cooked once again” and it is actually a byproduct that appears in the form of whey during the making of provolone and mozzarella cheese. The collected whey is cooked again and drained to save the creamy curd called as Ricotta Cheese.
While this cheese is quite expensive, it is worth the money spent on it because it is a type of healthy food. So, are you thinking about what to do with the leftover cheese that you don’t want to go waste? One of the best ways to extend its shelf life is to freeze it.
We all love our Ricotta Cheese and it would be better to have knowledge about how to freeze Ricotta Cheese right. This article is all about things you need to know to keep your Ricotta Cheese from going bad.
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How to Make Ricotta Cheese?
Ricotta Cheese can be made in a variety of styles. For instance, it is generally made from:
- Whey and is called Ricottone
- Whole milk
- Freshest dairy milk
A dry version of the cheese is made by extending the draining process. However, you can also get the driest version by extending drying process and pressing the prepared cheese under weight. The richness of the cheese can easily be increased by including more cream in the whey or milk during the cheese making process.
When whey is heated to 190+ degrees Fahrenheit, Ricotta is formed and has now risen to the surface. The cheese can be ladled from the surface and drained. The lengthier the draining process is, denser ricotta will become.
Can You Freeze Ricotta Cheese?
Now that you have used the required quantity of ricotta cheese, the next question arising in your mind would be, “Can you freeze Ricotta Cheese?” or “Can you freeze unopened ricotta cheese?” Well, of course, you can! You can easily freeze Ricotta Cheese to keep it fresh for long by extending its shelf life. However, don’t expect the quality to stay the same after you decide to thaw it.
The high moisture content in the cheese becomes ice and the developed ice frost tends to damage the basic structure of the cheese and taste. This is the reason why you can see the change of texture after it is thawed.
However, you can try to recover the ruined texture by stirring the thawed cheese with a large spoon, but the previous soft texture can still not be obtained.
Freezing Ricotta Cheese
If you are buying Ricotta Cheese from the market, you will get it in a plastic container, which is perfect for freezing the cheese. Directly place the container in the freezer, if it has not been opened. However, if you have opened it and used some of the Ricotta Cheese, make sure to store the cheese in a freezer bag or an airtight container and not in the Ricotta Cheese tub.
Before freezing the cheese, stir it well with a spoon as this technique will help in freezing it evenly. Also, try to remove the moisture by pressing it against a stack of paper towels. Ricotta Cheese can easily be stored in airtight storage containers, plastic wrap, freezer bags or aluminum foil.
If you are freezing a large quantity of cheese in a freezer bag, divide it into serving sizes of no larger than 8 ounces. This will help defrost a small portion and not the whole block of cheese when required. Before you seal the bag, press out as much air as possible with a vacuum sealer or with your hands.
If you choose to store the Ricotta Cheese in an airtight plastic container, portion out the cheese and pack it separately. Put all the wrapped portions of Ricotta Cheese inside an airtight container and freeze it. Do not forget to label the content with a date as we recommend freezing the cheese for not more than 45 to 60 days.
One of the best ways to freeze the Ricotta Cheese is to put it in a dish that you are going to cook soon. So, if you have planned a meal beforehand and had enough time, make sure to include cheese in your dish before freezing it.
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Some Important Points to Keep in Mind
While it is possible to freeze Ricotta Cheese, proper freezing is essential to prolong its life. Please keep these points in mind while freezing Ricotta Cheese.
- If there is some left-over cheese present in the original packing and you want to keep the cheese in the packaging, seal it carefully and put it in a freezer bag before keeping the bag in the freezer. This will help keep the cheese fresh for a month.
- Never keep a large quantity of leftover cheese together. Always pack it in small portions as this gives you the advantage of using only a small quantity and thaw it whenever required.
- Frozen Ricotta Cheese can be added to different recipes and there is no need to thaw it before cooking.
- How long can you keep ricotta cheese in the refrigerator? Well, properly frozen Ricotta Cheese can go bad if it is stored beyond 3 months. Therefore, it is advisable to use them within the said time frame.
- Before using the frozen Ricotta Cheese, it is vital to check the quality of thawed Ricotta Cheese. If you notice any color change or a strong odor, the cheese is no longer usable.
Safe Thawing of Frozen Ricotta Cheese
Never choose to thaw the frozen cheese on the counter as it will promote bacterial growth. One of the safest and the best ways to thaw Ricotta Cheese is in the refrigerator without going over 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
While the whole process will take a bit long, thawing in the fridge rules out the chances of the cheese going bad. And, if your fridge has the chiller compartment, that is the best place to thaw the cheese.
Once the cheese is taken out from the freezing container, use a fork to mix the liquid and curd. This trick will make the cheese creamier again. Next, make sure to eat it as soon as possible as freezing Ricotta Cheese for the second time is not advisable.
What Can the Thawed Ricotta Cheese Be Used For?
So you have frozen and thawed the Ricotta Cheese, what do you want to do with it? There are tons of things you can make with thawed Ricotta Cheese. Here are few preparation ideas for your saved and thawed Ricotta Cheese.
- You can create a cheese mixture to prepare mac and cheese or combine Ricotta with Parmesan, Mozzarella, eggs, parsley, and seasonings to prepare manicotti.
- Make a ricotta cheese mixture for lasagna by mixing thawed ricotta cheese with eggs, Parmesan and seasoning. Cheese mixture can be layered with uncooked lasagna noodles and further baked.
- Finally, you can make cannoli shells more exciting by indulging in the making of ricotta cream filling. Whip the cheese and add vanilla, chocolate pieces, confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon oil.
Ricotta Cheese is a delicate ingredient. However, it is worth spending some time to preserve it properly to extend its life. If you are preserving the cheese, remember that there will be some change in its taste and texture.
So as long as Ricotta Cheese is not the main ingredient of your dish, a slight change in flavor or texture can easily go unnoticed.
Freeze Ricotta Cheese or Eat it the Same Day?
Here we won’t say no, however, we recommend consuming fresh Ricotta Cheese to enjoy the soft and creamy texture. Once you have thawed the cheese, its texture becomes a lot different. Whenever possible, choose to use the freezer as the last option and use the cheese as soon as possible after freezing.
Also, if you would like to know how can you freeze potato salad, read a post here. Or, click here for more post on tips and guides on preserving and prepare different type of foods.
So, did you get an answer to your, “Can you freeze Ricotta Cheese?” question? Are you planning to freeze your cheese? Do you like your ricotta fresh or thawed? Share your experience with us.