How To Store Ricotta Cheese?

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.

Preparing pancake batter with ricotta
Preparing pancake batter with ricotta

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.

Ricotta-based pancakes
Ricotta-based pancakes

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.

Pancake batter with ricotta
Pancake batter with ricotta – stirring finished

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.

Ricotta pancakes
Ricotta pancakes closeup

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.

Ricotta pancakes with powdered sugar
Ricotta pancakes garnished with powdered sugar

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.

Summary

  • 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
Cooking ricotta-based pancakes
Cooking ricotta-based pancakes

References