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How many times have you stocked up on items when they’re on sale only to have some of them go bad before you can consume them?
More times than you can count? Yep, me too!
Most of us can’t resist the urge to stock up when our favorite food items go on sale, only to “overbuy” what we actually need and we end up wasting money.
Because of unprecedented supply chain issues and rising prices, it’s more important than ever for families to reduce their food waste.
This is where I come in. I used to be that person. But not anymore! I learned some tips and tricks over the years and now I rarely waste food! And I’m here to help you!
In this article, we’ll explore how to freeze milk, which milks freeze best, how to thaw milk safely, what to do when the milk fat separates, and whether freezing milk is a viable option for you and your family.
Let’s get started…
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Can You Freeze Milk?
Yes, you can freeze milk. But the quality of your defrosted milk will depend largely on how it was frozen and its fat content. It will not be the same as fresh milk.
With that said, freezing milk is a great option if you manage your expectations. If you’re a milk lover and are funny about textures, you will probably not enjoy a tall glass of previously frozen milk, even if you have your favorite Oreos to dunk into it.
But, previously frozen milk will do well when incorporated into cooked dishes.
So, freeze away if you’d like but remember, it will not have the same exact texture as fresh milk!
Let’s move on to how to freeze milk.
How To Freeze Milk
The best way to freeze milk is to do so quickly and in airtight, freezer-safe containers that allow enough room for the milk to expand as it freezes.
Be sure to leave a couple of inches of headspace in each freezer-safe container to allow the milk to expand without cracking or splitting.
This means you should remove about 1 cup or so of the milk leaving a couple of inches of “empty” space in the container before freezing.
You can freeze milk in its original plastic container but if it is in a cardboard carton or glass container, you should transfer the milk to a freezer-safe container prior to freezing.
If you don’t consume a lot of milk at once, you may consider freezing in smaller portions for baking or even ice cube trays to use in smoothies.
How To Use An Ice Cube Tray For Freezing Milk
Step By Step Instructions
Step One: Using a measuring spoon, test how many ounces, tablespoons, or teaspoons your ice cube trays will hold. Most standard-sized ice cubes are equivalent to about one ounce or two tablespoons of milk.
Step Two: Fill each ice cube tray with milk but don’t overfill the cubes. Remember, when you put milk in the freezer, it expands so leave a little room in the cubes.
Step Three: Place ice cube trays flat in your freezer.
Step Four: Once frozen, transfer the frozen milk to a freezer-safe plastic container or bag.
Step Five: Label the bag with the contents, date frozen, and the amount of milk in each cube.
Can You Freeze Milk About To Expire?
Yes, you can freeze milk about to expire but the quality may not be as good as fresher milk.
When I freeze milk close to its expiration date, I always write on the carton the date I froze so I how quickly I need to use the milk once it’s defrosted.
How Long Can You Freeze Milk And It Still Be Good?
According to the USDA, milk will retain its best quality if used within about 3 months.
Personally, I try to use it within about 1 to 2 months to avoid it absorbing freezer odors.
How To Thaw Milk
NEVER defrost milk at room temperature on the counter or in hot water as this may lead to bacteria growth and spoilage. Don’t risk it!
The safest way to thaw milk is overnight in the refrigerator. You can put a folded paper towel or clean dishcloth under the carton to absorb condensation as it thaws.
A full gallon of milk will not thaw overnight but will likely take 2 to 3 days to completely defrost in the refrigerator. This is another reason to freeze milk in smaller containers.
You can also defrost milk in cold water.
To defrost milk in cold water, submerge the container entirely in cold water. Change the water about every 30 minutes (sooner if it’s really hot in your kitchen) to prevent bacteria growth and spoilage.
How To Remove The Grainy Texture After Your Milk Is Defrosted
Once your milk has thawed, you need to remove the grainy texture as much as possible.
You can do this by vigorously shaking the jug (container) or using a handheld immersion blender to successfully combine the ingredients again.
Note: You may need to shake the milk each time you use it after thawing. Trust me, you don’t want chunky milk.
How Long Is Thawed Milk Good For?
Most of the time, milk should be consumed within 3 or 4 days of thawing but this time may vary depending on how fresh your milk was when frozen.
For example, if your milk was frozen on the date it expired, you’ll probably want to consume it as soon as it is thawed so it won’t sour on you.
Key Tips To Remember
- Freeze milk in a freezer-safe container with at least a couple of inches of “empty” space because milk expands as it is freezing. This helps you avoid a mess in your freezer.
- Freeze milk away from pungent foods like onions and seafood so it doesn’t pick up off-putting tastes.
- Consume your frozen milk within 3 months for the best quality.
- It’s best to thaw milk in the refrigerator but it can be thawed in water. Just make sure your water is cold and not warm. Never thaw milk on the counter. You don’t want your milk at room temperature. Keep it cold to avoid the risk of bacteria growth.
- Once thawed, remember to shake well or use an immersion blender to reduce grainy texture before consuming.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Milk Retain Its Nutrients When Frozen?
Yes, milk will retrain its nutrients when frozen.
Will Milk Pick Up Odors In The Freezer?
Sometimes milk may absorb odors from the freezer. Therefore, you want to be sure you do not store frozen milk with foods that have strong odors like onions or seafood.
Why Is Frozen Milk Yellow?
Milk contains riboflavin (Vitamin B2) that is naturally yellow. Riboflavin doesn’t freeze as quickly as milk’s other ingredients. It then separates and turns the milk yellow as it freezes.
Does Almond Milk Freeze Well?
Plant-based milk can be frozen but its quality once thawed varies widely. Almond milk is no exception. For a detailed answer, please read my post about freezing almond milk.
Does Freezing Milk Change The Taste?
Most of the time, the taste of thawed milk is about the same but the texture may be slightly altered.
When frozen, the fat in milk separates. As the milk thaws, it can leave the milk with a grainy texture.
Because of this, whole milk often separates more than low-fat or skim milk and may have a grainier texture.
Nondairy alternatives such as oat milk can also separate once frozen although it will remain safe to consume.
Final Thoughts From Cost-Effective Kitchen
Reducing food waste is a key component in maintaining a cost-effective kitchen. Dairy can be expensive. Freezing extra milk before it goes bad is a great way to reduce waste and save money. So don’t hesitate to freeze milk nearing its “best by”, “use by”, or “expiration date”.
Just remember to do a taste test on your milk if it is nearing its expiration date. You don’t want to freeze soured milk.
With that said, previously frozen milk may have an off-putting texture or taste if you drink a glass.
Therefore, you may prefer to use leftover milk for cooking. This is what I do.
I love my dairy but do not like drinking plain milk and absolutely despise thawed milk but have no problems using it in a recipe.
Because I use leftover milk in recipes only, I never freeze in gallon jugs. I have several smaller plastic containers that hold between 8 oz and 32 oz that I use instead.
If you’re concerned about whether your family will like previously frozen milk, try freezing a cup nearing its expiration for a few days. Then thaw and shake to recombine the fats.
Take a sip and try some in a recipe. See how you like it. Then, you’ll know if freezing milk is an option for your cost-effective kitchen.
Until next time…