How to make and freeze homemade ricotta cheese

RICOTTA CHEESE, COMMERCIALLY PACKAGED – OPENED

  • How long does ricotta cheese last once opened? The precise answer depends to a large extent on storage conditions – to maximize the shelf life of opened ricotta cheese, keep it refrigerated at all times.
  • To maximize the shelf life of ricotta cheese after opening, keep refrigerated and tightly covered, either in the original packaging or in an airtight container.
  • Properly stored, an opened package of ricotta cheese will generally last for about two weeks after opening, assuming it has been continuously refrigerated.
  • How long can ricotta cheese be left at room temperature? Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F; ricotta cheese should be discarded if left out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.
  • To further extend the shelf life of opened ricotta cheese, freeze it: to freeze ricotta cheese, place inside covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
  • Frozen ricotta cheese may become crumbly and lose some of its flavor; the thawed ricotta cheese will be best suited to cooked dishes, such as sauces, soups and casseroles.
  • How long does ricotta cheese last in the freezer? Properly stored, it will maintain best quality for about 3 months, but will remain safe beyond that time.
  • The freezer time shown is for best quality only – ricotta cheese that has been kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely.
  • How long does ricotta cheese last after being frozen and thawed? Ricotta cheese that has been defrosted in the fridge can be kept for an additional 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator before using; ricotta cheese that was thawed in the microwave or in cold water should be used immediately.
  • When frozen ricotta cheese is thawed, there may be some liquid at the top of the container; simply stir it back into the cheese.
  • How can you tell if ricotta cheese is bad or spoiled? The best way is to smell and look at the ricotta cheese: if ricotta cheese turns yellow or develops an off odor or flavor, it should be discarded for quality purposes; if mold appears, discard the entire package.

Sources: For details about data sources used for food storage information, please click here

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How to make and freeze homemade ricotta cheese

Freezing ricotta cheese is somewhat controversial among home chefs and cheese enthusiasts. The smooth, creamy texture of ricotta can be sacrificed by freezing, so the process is generally not highly recommended. There are, however, some tricks to use that make freezing ricotta more successful even if it is not the ideal preparation. Only freezing ricotta for a short time, thawing it properly, and only using it as a secondary ingredient are the best tips for freezing ricotta.

Ideally, ricotta cheese can be used fresh and not subjected to freezing temperatures that compromise its texture. If this is not possible, however, the cheese can be briefly frozen. Whole milk ricotta is the best candidate for freezing because the richness from the milk fat will help maintain some of the original creaminess. Skim milk ricotta is more likely to become grainy and unpleasant.

The best way to freeze ricotta is in the original unopened packaging, which will provide the most protection from crystallization or freezer burn. In the event that using the original packaging is not realistic, smaller portions of ricotta can be frozen in airtight plastic containers. Wrapping the ricotta in plastic wrap or aluminum foil or sealing it in plastic bags is not recommended because the cheese will release liquid while it thaws. Even properly sealed and stored, ricotta should not be frozen for more than two months.

When the ricotta is about to be used, it must be thawed in the refrigerator for approximately 24 hours. Using a microwave to speed up the process is not recommended because it will further compromise the texture. Similarly, allowing the ricotta to defrost at room temperature could cause spoiling and is not recommended. After 24 hours in the refrigerator have passed, the ricotta should be thoroughly defrosted and able to be stirred. Some liquid is likely to collect on top of the cheese: this liquid should be stirred back into the cheese, not drained off.

A creative tip for freezing ricotta is to prepare a full recipe using the ricotta and then freeze the resulting dish. For example, ricotta that is sealed into ravioli or baked into lasagna will stand up to freezing far better than the cheese alone. Similarly, a double batch of the original recipe can be made and the excess frozen instead of just freezing the leftover ricotta.

If freezing ricotta in a finished dish is not possible or desirable, the thawed cheese will be best used in a dish where it is both cooked and not the featured ingredient. Cooking the ricotta will help disguise the altered textured, as will combining it with multiple other ingredients. Using frozen ricotta as a prominent ingredient, such as in a cheesecake, will most likely reveal the compromised texture of the cheese.

Posted on Last updated: August 28, 2021

Not sure how to store ricotta cheese, or how long does it last? You’re in the right place.

In this article, we talk all about ricotta: storage practices, shelf life, and signs of going bad. If you need to learn a bit about any of these, read on.

How To Store Ricotta Cheese

I think it goes without saying that you should refrigerate ricotta. And to help it last as long as possible, avoid leaving it out at room temperature. That means:

  • chucking ricotta into the fridge as soon as you return home
  • if you’re using only a portion, scoop it (using a clean spoon!) and put the rest immediately into the refrigerator

When it comes to open ricotta, make sure it stays sealed. This way, it doesn’t pick up any smells, dry out, or get contaminated by any microorganisms that might be on other foods.

To take care of that, you can either use the original container (if it’s resealable like mine) or use a food container. Either gets the job done.

Last but not least, let’s talk about freezing ricotta.

Generally speaking, most producers don’t recommend freezing ricotta cheese ([LC]), because it changes its texture. The once-smooth cheese becomes crumbly, and that’s no good for most uses. The only exception is cooked dishes, where those changes don’t matter that much.

If you’re going to use the ricotta in a cooked recipe (e.g., pancakes), feel free to freeze it in an airtight container. The change in the quality of the final dish should be none at best and subtle at worst.

How Long Does Ricotta Cheese Last?

The shelf life of ricotta cheese is around two weeks or three to five days past the date on the label. After you open the container, finish the leftovers within five to seven days. If you need more time, freeze the cheese.

That’s the essence, let’s get into the details.

Ricotta isn’t one of those high-fat dairy products that last a long time (like butter, or hard cheese). Its shelf life is usually around two weeks.

And there’s always a date on the label that’s quite helpful in determining how long the ricotta will keep.

If you (and the supermarket) did everything right when it comes to storage, ricotta should stay perfectly fine for up to three to five days past that date. That’s about the max I would expect.

Like with all dairy products, if it was mishandled in storage, ricotta can go bad even before its date.

After opening, try to finish the ricotta within five to seven days. If yours is already pushing the date on the label, that time frame shrinks to about two days.

If you’ve frozen your ricotta, you can easily leave it in the freezer for like 3 to 4 months without any adverse effects.

How To Tell If Ricotta Cheese Is Bad?

The typical signs of ricotta include:

  • mold
  • black or brown spots
  • change of color to yellow or orange
  • off smell

If either is present, throw out the ricotta.

Another thing to look out for is the cheese turning sour. If you notice that its smell has changed and now it’s similar to kefir’s or sour cream’s, you probably should toss it out. Sure, it’s not really spoiled, but it doesn’t taste as it’s supposed to either.

Last but not least, liquid on top. It’s natural for some liquid separation to occur in ricotta ([LC]), especially if it’s already pushing its “use-by” date.

You can either drain the liquid, or stir it back into the cheese, either is fine ([LC]). In other words, some water on top of ricotta (or cottage cheese) is nothing to be afraid of.

  • Store ricotta cheese in the fridge, in a closed container
  • Unopened ricotta can last for a few days past its date
  • Once you open the container, finish the product within 5 to 7 days if it’s fresh, and 2 days if it’s already pushing its date
  • You can freeze ricotta, but it makes sense only if you’re going to use it in cooked dishes