Ricotta is a deliciously smooth and creamy cheese used in many recipes from Italian cheese fillings and desserts to breakfast topped with berries and honey to herbed dip for vegetables and crackers. Making homemade ricotta is simple, so having plenty on hand should never be an issue. If you find, however, that you need to freeze ricotta to prevent it from spoiling before you can use it, storing and thawing the cheese is quite straightforward. With a kitchen hack or two and a lot of ideas for ricotta cheese recipes and even a frozen ricotta dessert, ricotta cheese in the freezer may even become a new pantry staple.
How to Freeze Ricotta
Ricotta freezes fairly well when the proper steps are taken to ensure that the cheese will stay fresh. If you freeze ricotta, the cheese will have an extended shelf life of up to three months, but the cheese must be fresh when it is frozen. Store ricotta in a self-sealing container, and expect the cheese to separate a bit after freezing. Drain off all excess liquid, otherwise known as whey, to prevent the cheese from spoiling.
If you know you will not use the cheese within one month, place the self-sealing container with the cheese into a gallon plastic zip-top bag to prevent freezer burn. The cheese should be placed at the back of the freezer, far from the door. This keeps the cheese from spoiling as it is exposed to temperature changes each time the freezer door is opened.
Ricotta will maintain its original taste and texture when frozen in a prepared dish such as a frozen ricotta dessert or baked in a pasta dish as a cheese filling. The ricotta tends to keep its creaminess rather than separating as the ricotta slowly freezes.
Ricotta Cheese Recipe Ideas
Homemade ricotta is as simple as boiling two parts whole milk to one part heavy whipping cream with a dash of salt. Once the mixture boils, add a few tablespoons of white wine or rice vinegar to curdle the milk into cheese. After it sits for one minute, strain the milk through a cheese cloth and allow it to sit for half an hour to drain. You now have fresh ricotta cheese.
Ricotta is often used as a cheese filling for lasagna, manicotti, calzone and many other Italian dishes, but there are lots of other recipes that call for the creamy, small-curd cheese. Stir in herbs and serve it with toast points, crackers or vegetables. Add honey, and ricotta can be served as a light breakfast topped with mixed berries or stone fruits.
Make Great Desserts With Ricotta Cheese
The best ricotta cheese recipes, however, are desserts. For example, sweetened ricotta cheese is flavored and used to fill cannoli, the Italian pastries. The cheese can also be baked into any number of cakes that range in texture from pound cake to that of the cheese itself with eggs and lemon mixed in and baked just long enough to set. A lemon ricotta granita, similar to an Italian ice dessert or ice cream, is another indulgent option. Lemon ricotta granita is made simply with water, sugar, lemon juice and ricotta mixed together and carefully frozen to create many small ice crystals for a sweet and refreshing cold treat.
Molly is a freelance journalist and social media consultant. In addition to Leaf.tv, Molly has written for Teen Vogue and Paste magazine. She is the former assistant editor of the Design and Style section of Paste magazine. View her work at www.mmollyharris.com.