Freezing natural cheeses, such as ricotta, makes it possible to keep them for longer than they’d last in the refrigerator. A soft cheese, ricotta is made from the whey byproduct of other cheeses. The liquid and fine curds that make up ricotta cheese are creamy in consistency, pearly white in color, and slightly sweet in taste. These key features of the cheese tend to succumb to physical changes when you freeze ricotta.
Freeze ricotta cheese in airtight storage containers, aluminum foil, plastic wrap or plastic freezer bags. To keep quality high, separate large portions of ricotta cheese into serving sizes no larger than 8 ounces before freezing. Spooning the ricotta into ice cube trays and transferring the small blocks to freezer bags or containers once frozen works well for recipes that require only small amounts of the cheese. Label the bag or container with the date and contents.
While freezing does not affect the taste of ricotta cheese, the process of freezing and thawing does affect texture. This is especially true in the case of creamy ricotta cheeses. The curds and the whey in a creamy ricotta tend to separate during the freezing process, leaving behind a drier, crumblier product once it thaws. This makes frozen ricotta cheeses better for cooked recipes than those requiring fresh cheese.
Freezing temperatures of 0 degrees Fahrenheit and below keep foods safe to eat indefinitely. Safety aside, the quality of ricotta cheese begins to deteriorate after one month in the freezer. After this time, changes to taste, color and texture may begin to set in, along with increased texture loss. Although these changes pose no health risk, they may make the ricotta cheese less palatable.
Never thaw frozen ricotta cheese on the counter. The safest way to thaw frozen foods is in the refrigerator. If necessary, blend the ricotta with a spoon to combine any separated curds and whey before use. Use the ricotta cheese in your recipe as soon as possible after thawing. Store any unused portion in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
References and ResourcesNorth Dakota State University Extension Service: Food Freezing Basics: Freezing Dairy Products, Eggs and Other Foods
Super Baby Food: Your Complete Guide to What, When and How to Feed Your Baby and Toddler; Ruth Yaron
Colorado State University Extension: Food Safety for Storage and Quality
U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Freezing and Food Safety