Can You Freeze Milk?

Toasting with Milk Glass

Can you freeze milk? The answer seems quite simple, of course, you can. Perhaps, "can you freeze milk?" is not the question we should be asking. Maybe the correct question is "Should you freeze milk?" or "Why freeze milk?". Well, the answer to all of these age-old questions await your curious eyes below, but before we dig too deep let us give you a quick rundown on the worlds favorite creamy beverage.

For many families, milk is a staple food that is consumed routinely and often purchased in large quantities. Many people purchase milk regularly, sometimes several times a week. Because of its properties, milk is a food that spoils easily and is frequently wasted before it's opened. Because of this, most people don't stock up on milk because they fear it will spoil before they've had time to use it. For some, it's an item that has no substitute and not having readily available milk can be a frustrating debacle.

Perhaps the most common way to preserve easily spoiled food is to freeze it before its expiration date. So that begs the question, can you freeze milk? The answer is yes. Milk, like other foods such as meat, can be safely frozen and consumed at a later time. Before you put a gallon of milk in your freezer, there are a few things to know about freezing and thawing milk.

Milk: It's What's for Breakfast


happy woman with milk

Milk is one of the most commonly purchased grocery items and is a staple for most people. Unfortunately, its shelf life is short and most people try to purchase their milk based on which container as the longest expiration date. Fortunately, there are ways to extend the life of your milk, and thawed milk is just as tasty and nutritious as fresh milk.

For those that don't go grocery shopping each week, having fresh milk in your refrigerator at all times is nearly impossible. Most milk is best used within a week of opening, and if it's past its expiration date, it's probably best to discard it. Milk can get expensive, and when there are good deals on it, it's hard to not want to purchase gallons and gallons for future use.

Benefits of Drinking Milk


Many parents serve their kid's milk because of its proven benefits. Some benefits of drinking milk are nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, B vitamins, potassium, and vitamin D. For kids who don't eat enough meats and vegetables; it is also an excellent source of protein. It is believed milk can also prevent osteoporosis, bone fractures, and help kids and adults maintain a healthy weight.

Can You Freeze Milk Safely?


So, can you freeze milk? The best news for milk drinkers is it absolutely can be frozen and used months after its expiration date. There are a few things to note before you purchase those five gallons on sale right now at the grocery store.

How to Freeze Milk


milk in pitcher and glass

When answering the question "can you freeze milk," one must note that there is a correct way to do so. Freezing milk is very simple as long as it's frozen before its expiration or "best by" date. If the milk you plan on freezing is expired or maybe not yet expired, but it has a weird smell or texture, it's best to throw it away and start with a fresh container. Once you have the milk you want to freeze, put it in the appropriate containers. Milk can be frozen right in the container it comes in although you will have to open it and remove some of it if the container is full. Because milk expands when frozen, a cup or more should be removed in order to avoid exploding messes in your freezer.

Once you have removed some off the top of the container, it's time to label it. Because it will probably be frozen past its original expiration date, it's important to date it with the day you froze it since the original date will now be meaningless. The days you have between freezing the milk and the milk expiring is a good indicator for how long you will have to consume the milk once you thaw it.

For example, if the milk's expiration date is August 7th and you freeze it August 1st, you will have about seven days to use it once you've thawed it. Another helpful tip when freezing milk is to freeze it in plastic containers. Freezing it in glass like a mason jar is not safe as the glass could crack or shatter once it reaches a cold enough temperature.

How to Thaw Milk


pouring a milk in a glass

Now that you've saved that milk that might otherwise have been wasted, it's time to prepare for thawing it. Milk that is stored in larger quantities will take longer to thaw, and once you've thawed a large quantity, you'll want to use the whole container. If you don't think you'll be able to use a whole container once it's thawed, it might be helpful to separate it into several small containers and freeze it that way. Plus, the small containers will thaw much quicker.

To thaw your milk, all you have to do is put it in your refrigerator, and it will naturally thaw on its own. It's best to put milk on a bottom shelf and toward the front of your refrigerator because sometimes keeping it at the top or in the back will keep it frozen unintentionally. Milk that is frozen by the gallon will take about a day to thaw completely. Once the milk has thawed completely, it should be shaken to mix the milk and fat together. The separation of fat during the freezing process is normal, so don't worry if you see your milk separating. To keep it well mixed, it should also be shaken before each use.

Thawing milk might be a long process, and it's important to be patient. Trying to thaw your milk quicker at room temperature or by using hot water will risk the quality of the milk. The safest and easiest way to thaw it is in the refrigerator, so taking it out the day before you plan on using it is usually the best option.

Milk can also be thawed in cold water if done correctly. To thaw milk in cold water, fill a big enough bowl or your sink with cold water and place your frozen milk in it. You might need to use a heavy object to keep the milk from floating to the top of the water. If the water becomes too warm or room temperature, add more cold water to avoid spoiling the milk.

You should avoid thawing your milk by:

  • Leaving it at room temperature
  • Using the microwave or stove
  • Thawing it in hot water
  • Thawing it outdoors in the sun

How to Store Milk in the Freezer


milk in a bottle

Milk can be stored for two to three months in the freezer. Some believe milk can be frozen for closer to six months but three months is generally in the safe range. Once frozen, milk will absorb the flavors of other foods in the freezer. At three months the milk should still taste like milk, but beyond that, the milk might taste like whatever it is stored next to. It's best to store your milk away from foods that have smelly odors that you wouldn't want your milk to taste like. Fish and meat is the biggest culprit so make sure your milk is stored far away from pungent foods.

Milk is best stored in a plastic carton. Glass containers can shatter, and paper cartons can leak and allow air to get in. If you don't have a plastic container to put your milk in, consider saving or recycling an old water bottle to store milk in.

Does Milk Change after Freezing?


ice cream

Milk can be stored for two to three months in the freezer. Some believe milk can be frozen for closer to six months but three months is generally in the safe range. Once frozen, milk will absorb the flavors of other foods in the freezer. At three months the milk should still taste like milk, but beyond that, the milk might taste like whatever it is stored next to. It's best to store your milk away from foods that have smelly odors that you wouldn't want your milk to taste like. Fish and meat is the biggest culprit so make sure your milk is stored far away from pungent foods.

Milk is best stored in a plastic carton. Glass containers can shatter, and paper cartons can leak and allow air to get in. If you don't have a plastic container to put your milk in, consider saving or recycling an old water bottle to store milk in.

Conclusion


The answer to "can you freeze milk," is simple yet nuanced. Freezing milk is a great way to save it from expiring and save you money at the grocery store when you find good deals. When done correctly, frozen milk can be just as good as fresh milk and some people might not even be able to tell the difference between milk that was frozen and milk that was just purchased.

As well as freezing milk, other milk products can also be frozen and used by following the same steps and tips. Eggnog, buttermilk, and cream can be frozen and thawed like milk but with a shorter freezing period. It's best not to freeze these foods past two months and to freeze them before their expiration dates. Just like milk, they will also eventually absorb the flavors of the freezer, so it's best to keep them away from smelly foods or store them in a separate freezer.

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