Ricotta cheese, a smooth and creamy textured cheese is a favorite to many when it comes to preparing some good delicacies. Be it ricotta cheese or any other ingredient, if you can’t store it properly, it becomes a hassle for you. We can totally relate with that.
The first reason is usually what you are going to do with the leftover. The second reason is the hassle of buying the ingredient again and again and not being able to store them. For people who prefer ricotta cheese in their lasagnas or regular pasta, ‘can you freeze ricotta cheese’ is a very common query. Today we will solve that mystery for you. Spoiler alert! We come bearing positive news for you.
Ins and outs of Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese comes from cow’s milk; both skim and whole. The factor of distinction of Ricotta cheese from other ones is that it contains the flavor of cottage cheese but the texture is a lot smoother. This smooth texture is the reason people love it so much with ravioli and lasagna. The overall taste of this cheese is a little bit sweet. Hence, for baking cheesecakes, Ricotta cheese is a personal favorite of ours.
The cheese looks very creamy and white from the exterior. The overall structure is firm with moist granules spread over it. Ricotta is sometimes made from the by product from other cheeses. Interestingly, the name ricotta in Latin means ‘cooked twice’.
Since the cheese by product is processed again to prepare ricotta cheese, this is named such. For its dual processing in the making, people tend to think that freezing ricotta might be not such a good idea. We will find this out soon whether this perception is correct or not.
Can you freeze it?
Remember we mentioned in the beginning that we come bearing good news? Well, here’s the good news for you. Yes, you can freeze ricotta cheese! By freezing ricotta cheese, you can actually increase its shelf-life.
Pretty great news, isn’t it? But there is a certain condition to it. And that condition is to follow proper procedure of freezing and thawing. If you do not store it properly, you understand that the cheese will not sustain for long.
Does the texture change after freezing?
Freezing ricotta cheese is going to jeopardize the cheese texture unfortunately. Ricotta is a soft textured cheese and possess high amount of moisture content. The moisture gives the consistent and smooth texture of ricotta cheese. When you freeze the cheese, the moisture within the cheese is turned into ice.
This is very natural, when moisture solidifies into ice, the texture will be changed. With frozen ricotta, you won’t be able to understand the texture change that much. But once you defrost it, you will see that the cheese becomes drier. It also becomes a bit crumbly in texture than before.
What to do about the changing texture?
This blog has turned into a series of good news and bad news honestly. It’s time for the good one again. Fortunately, there are ways to salvage the texture change. First of all, when you are thawing the cheese, we would say that you keep stirring it with thaw.
Secondly, our recommendation is use to ricotta cheese for cooked dishes. You can also use them as side dishes to food. If you need fresh ricotta cheese texture for a dish, frozen ricotta might not be the best solution for you. However, for cooked items, frozen ricotta cheese tastes wonderful.
Our approach in freezing Ricotta Cheese
While you are freezing ricotta cheese, there are certain steps you can follow for maintaining the flavor and consistency of the cheese.
With readymade ricotta cheese
When you are buying ricotta cheese from the store, the sellers already provide a container for that. You can simply freeze the cheese within those containers if you haven’t opened them already.
If you have opened the can however, you need to package it again. We will be discussing about the packaging later on. That is why, it’s better to buy multiple small containers of cheese rather than one large one.
Once you open the containers, it becomes a hassle to store them. Open one container at a time and you would probably end up using the entire small container. You can simply freeze the cheese in other containers.
Use airtight containers
If you have read our blog before, you would already have at least few airtight containers in your house. We constantly talk about airtight and insulated containers and how important it is while storing food.
For ricotta cheese as well, be it homemade or readymade, always use insulated containers to store them. For readymade cheese, use your home container only if you have opened the container from the store already. If you haven’t opened it, simply put the store bought one in the freezer.
Stir and put pressure
For getting an even consistency after freezing ricotta cheese, it’s better to stir them well before you put them in the freezer. Also, put pressure on the cheese with a clean and dry kitchen towel.
This is done to wipe out the excessive whey present on the cheese surface. The excess whey turns into ice after freezing and can ruin the cheese texture.
Mark the date on the container
This is more of a tip from us. The shelf life of frozen ricotta cheese is approximately 2 months. It is highly recommended that you do not consume the cheese after 2 months of its preparation.
In fact, you should not eat frozen ricotta cheese after two months even if they are from the superstores. It’s very normal to forget the date when you kept them in the freezer. Hence, in the container mark the date when you are putting in the freezer. In this way, you will remember and not mistakenly consume bad ricotta cheese.
Chop down the cheese
For storage convenience, it is always better to divide the cheese into small parts. This will save up a lot of your freezer space actually. You can space them at different corners of the fridge. Plus you can get one small container out at a time instead of taking out the entire stack.
Use plastic wraps
For extra safety, you can use plastic wraps to store ricotta cheese. The method is pretty easy. Put the cheese inside the wrap and press it for a while to keep out the air and finally seal the wrap to make it airtight. Put the wrapped cheese in the airtight container. In this way, the cheese will remain extra safe.
How to thaw Ricotta Cheese?
Keep in the fridge
In order to thaw ricotta cheese, you need to put them in the fridge for few hours. Usually keeping them in the fridge for about 5 to 6 hours should be enough. You shouldn’t exceed more than 8 hours because that will deteriorate the texture.
Do not thaw at normal temperature
It is highly recommended not to thaw ricotta cheese in our kitchen counter. The cheese is highly sensitive to bacterial contamination. Hence, at room temperature, the cheese might get infected with bacteria once again.
When you are using the cheese for cooking, use spoons and stir them to reach to a consistency level. It is better not to leave the ricotta cheese wide open for a long period of time once you get them out of the fridge..
Do not re-freeze the cheese
The cheese will remain in good condition until 2-3 days after defrosting. Make sure you use the cheese within that time-frame. Do not refreeze ricotta cheese again, that will completely ruin the taste and texture of the cheese. Hence, it is advisable to keep small amounts in one single container so that you don’t have to waste cheese.
Homemade Ricotta Cheese recipe for you
If you are a parent, perhaps homemade items are something that you always prefer for the kids. Luckily, you can also prepare this delightful cheese at the comfort of your home.
In that way, you get to decide on the specific proportions of the item. The key ingredients to creating homemade ricotta cheese recipe are milk and lemon. It is actually as simple as it sounds. You just have to specific while preparation and nothing else.
You can use half a gallon whole milk or skim milk in this case and you need to add around one third lemon juice and a bit of salt according to taste. For preparation, warm the milk within a temperature of 200 F.
Then add lemon juice and salt and wait for approximately 10-15 minutes. Use a cheese cloth to strain the curd. Keep the drain for 20 to 60 minutes and you will have your homemade ricotta cheese ready. Pretty simple, isn’t it? Do give it a try at home.
What to cook with frozen Ricotta Cheese?
As we have mentioned earlier that frozen ricotta cheese should be used for cooked items and side dishes only. Here we are sharing some great recipe tips with you.
For the main course, lasagna is the crowd favorite. With ricotta cheese, you can prepare white cheese chicken lasagna. It’s a bit different from quintessential lasagna and can be a good surprise for your loved ones. Kids love it and adults too. You can thank us later when you become crowd favorite when you prepare this white cheese chicken lasagna recipe.
Mac and cheese
When you have little special guests coming over, nothing beats the classic mac and cheese. Other than cheddar and mozzarella, ricotta cheese also brings flavors to the classic mac and cheese. Guess what? The kids will love it even more. You can use this mac and cheese recipe or any other one for this. Simply use ricotta cheese instead of other cheese and see the difference for yourself.
Egg and cheese sandwich
For weekend morning breakfast, it calls for something different and unique. How about using the leftover ricotta cheese that you defrosted few hours back? Give a different cheese flavor in your egg sandwich today. Don’t forget to add some veggies for the nutritional needs for the day.
Ricotta cheese cookies
Since ricotta has a slightly sweet taste, it tastes extremely good within a cookie. The flavors melt right into your mouth. The cookies have a slightly better shelf life compared to other dishes of ricotta. You can try this ricotta cheese cookie recipe today.
Another sweet item you can prepare is blueberry cheesecake. This one is our favorite and hence we are a bit partial with the blueberry flavor. However, raspberry cheesecake, oreo cheesecake, nutella cheesecake or any other type, you name it and ricotta cheese is the cheese you should use for those.
Spinach ricotta calzone
Something healthy for the children is Spinach ricotta calzone. It has green vegetables and the cheese makes it appetizing for the children’s taste bud. Try this spinach ricotta calzone recipe or any other. Simply use ricotta cheese there instead of normal cheese.