Q. I made a special recipe that used a small amount of ricotta cheese in it. Now I have almost the whole container left. I do not want to give it up. Can I freeze the ricotta cheese?
A. Yes, you can freeze ricotta cheese, but be aware that it will not retain all of its original characteristics. Previously frozen ricotta cheese is excellent for use in baked goods recipes but has more moisture than the original, so it is not ideal for fresh use. Ricotta cheese is useful for making pancakes fluffy and is an excellent addition to baked pasta dishes and casseroles. The texture will change once thawed, but it should still be safe to use and the flavor should remain much the same as fresh ricotta.
It is possible to freeze ricotta cheese but for best results, it is recommended to freeze ricotta cheese in a freezer, airtight container, or freezer. To prepare for freezing, first press the ricotta cheese with a paper towel or dishtowel. Wrap the ricotta in plastic wrap or wrap it in parchment paper to protect it. Place the ricotta in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air. Label the package and write the date on it. Frozen ricotta is best used within two to three months of freezing. If the ricotta is frozen in large quantities, you may want to consider freezing it in small batches of one cup and not end up with leftover thawed ricotta. Do not thaw the ricotta.
Ricotta is a dairy product and the fat, during freezing, separates and changes texture. To thaw frozen ricotta, remove the freezer bag from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator. It is not safe to thaw dairy products on the counter as bacteria can begin to grow. Once thawed, place the ricotta cheese in a bowl. The cheese will be watery and lumpy. Drain any excess water from the cheese and stir the cheese in the bowl to bring it back to a creamy consistency.
Ricotta is most often used in recipes that are fully cooked, such as that lasagna and other pasta dishes, casseroles, and baked goods. Ricotta freezes well when it is part of a pre-made dish. Therefore, add the leftover ricotta to the precooked dish and then freeze for later consumption.