Ricotta cheese is the unsung hero of the cheese world. It is high in protein, being a whey cheese, and has a unique texture and flavor that sets it worlds apart from more traditional cheeses. Perhaps most importantly, it is made from the milk of goats, sheep, buffalo… Basically anything that is not a cow.
But can you freeze ricotta?
Luckily, ricotta cheese can be frozen. It has a high moisture content, so the flavor will not be exactly the same when it leaves the freezer as when it went in. But as mentioned before, it has a strange flavor anyways. You may not even notice the change, and it certainly will not be bad for you.
How To Freeze Ricotta Cheese
Ricotta cheese will freeze in basically any form and at any age, but there are a few steps you can take to get the most bang for your buck with the food. To begin with, start by grating your ricotta cheese if you have not already done that. It will go a long way for making the rest of the process much easier.
Next, flatten the cheese out. The cheese looks almost two-dimensional when grated, so you are probably wondering what that means. In this case it means using a baking sheet with aluminum foil to spread the cheese out, so no cheese is stacked on top of any other cheese.
The reason you do this is to keep cheese from crushing other cheese under its weight over long periods of time. If you are freezing ricotta cheese, then it is safe to assume you are in it for the long haul, so this is a good idea when preserving any food at a large timescale.
Freeze this sheet of cheese. Contrary to what you might expect, you are not done yet. Once you have the cheese frozen in this manner, you actually have to take it out of the freezer once more. This is because the initial freeze was to get each flake of grated cheese frozen.
Now that they are frozen, you can freeze them in a bundle together that will not crush itself, nor will any flake of cheese stick to any other flake. Or rather, if they do stick together, they will not be impossible to pull apart.
Anyone who has ever frozen food before it probably raising their eyebrows at these precautions. They are probably wondering where the plastic wrap is, where the airtight seals and the barriers against cross-contamination are. These are all important things, but they are not as crucial to the freezing of ricotta.
You should keep ricotta from becoming cross-contaminated by anything, but ricotta cheese itself will not be doing the contamination of anything. Bacteria in general avoids cheese, as cheese is already a type of mold that will defend itself from bacteria if it is contaminated.
By no means does this mean cheese is immune to bacteria. All it means is that it is not a carrier of deadly bacteria by its nature in the same way many meats tend to be.
Is Frozen Cheese Safe To Eat?
The answer is a somewhat surprising yes. It is surprising because so many foods develop some pretty nasty things while in the freezer. As alluded to before, meat in particular is almost deadly if it is left in the freezer for too long. Bacteria will continue to grow inside many foods even as they sit in the freezer.
This is because while the freezing cold can slow down many chemical reactions, it takes far greater cold in order to stop them. Particularly the growth of bacteria, which are usually adapted to suit highly specific environments.
This is why freezing and heating are both important for food safety. Some bacteria survive the extreme heat, some survive the extreme cold. The only way to make most foods safe is to expose them to both.
Ricotta cheese is relatively safe at temperatures below freezing, however. Naturally, this means that if you heat it up it will continue to be safe. It is only really unsafe when kept at around room temperature for hours and hours.
So, if you keep it from sitting out for too long, it should be safe, delicious, and good to eat for months.