Can You Freeze Milk?

can you freeze milk

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With these uncertain times and limits placed on everyday items like milk, many people are wondering whether or not you can freeze milk. The answer is simple.

Yes, you can safely freeze milk but the taste and texture may be altered upon thawing. Here’s what you need to know.

How To Freeze Milk

The best way to freeze milk is to do so quickly and in a freezer-safe container that allows enough room for the milk to expand as it freezes.

Be sure to leave a couple of inches of headspace in the freezer-safe container to allow the milk to expand without cracking or splitting.

This means you should remove about a 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. 

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 thawed.

TIP: Keep a black sharpie and some freezer tape or labels near your fridge for easy labeling.

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.

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 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 separates more than low-fat or skim and may have a grainier texture.  

How To Thaw Milk 

NEVER thaw milk on the counter or in hot water. Just DO NOT DO IT. Resist the temptation. Thawing milk on the counter may lead to bacteria growth and spoilage.

The safest way to thaw milk is 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 may take 2 to 3 days to completely thaw in the fridge.  This is another reason to freeze milk in smaller containers.

You can also thaw milk in cold water. 

To thaw 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 Thawing 

Once your milk has thawed, you need to remove the grainy texture as much as possible.

You can do this by vigorously shaking the 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, thawed milk should be consumed within 3 or 4 days but this time may vary depending on how fresh your milk was when frozen.

Does Milk Retain Its Nutrients When Frozen?

Yes, milk will retrain its nutrients when frozen.

Key Points To Remember

  • Freeze milk in a freezer-safe container with at least a couple of inches “empty” space.
  • Freeze milk away from pungent foods like onions and seafood.
  • Freeze milk up to 3 months for best quality.
  • Thaw milk in the refrigerator or in cold water. Never in warm water or on the counter.
  • Shake thawed milk vigorously or use an immersion blender to reduce grainy texture.

related informational guides:

Final Thoughts

Reducing food waste is a key component in maintaining a cost-effective kitchen so don’t hesitate to freeze milk nearing its “best by”, “use by”, or “expiration date”. 

With that said, previously frozen milk may have an off-putting texture or taste if you drank 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 recipes. 

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 freezing milk, take a cup nearing expiration and freeze it 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.


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