Are you constantly fighting the expiration date on your milk? Or did you find a good deal at the store and hope to freeze that extra gallon for later? The great news is that you can, indeed, freeze milk!
Milk can be expensive, and this simple trick can help you save money and avoid wasting precious milk. However, there are some important things you should know before popping a gallon in the freezer.
How to Store Milk in the Freezer
First thing's first, don't store milk in a paper carton. The key to freezing milk is an air-tight container and those paper milk cartons do not qualify. Save a few clean, small plastic milk jugs (with lids) for freezing if you need to store milk that came in a carton. In fact, you might want to split a gallon of milk into a few smaller containers so it thaws faster and you are not committed to a full gallon at once.
How to Freeze Milk
Next, it is to be noted that while freezing milk is very easy, it does need to be done before the "best by" or expiration date.
Remove about 1 cup of milk from each gallon or leave about 1 1/2 inches of headspace in the container. Milk expands as it freezes, so in order to avoid a nasty mess in your freezer, this step is crucial! Also, don't freeze milk in a glass container as it is likely to crack or shatter.
Replace the lid and store in the freezer.
How to Thaw Milk
Milk will thaw rather quickly and a gallon should be ready for consumption within a day (smaller containers will thaw quicker). Plan to use the milk within one week after it has thawed.
Place the frozen milk in the refrigerator. Shake well once thawed and before each use.
Do not thaw milk at room temperature. Just like any milk, you will be risking the quality of the milk you so diligently preserved if it gets too warm. Thawing it slowly and gently in the refrigerator is your best bet. If you need to speed it up, fill the sink with cold water and place the milk jug in it for a while. Replace the water when it warms to room temp, figure every 30 minutes or so to be on the safe side. You might need to finish the thaw in the fridge, but this will give you a head start.
How Milk Changes After Freezing
Previously frozen milk will retain all of its nutrients, but you may notice a change in texture after it thaws out. Notably, the fat may separate and the texture may become grainy—many people do not enjoy drinking it straight. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you out:
- Try freezing a small amount of milk before committing to freezing an entire gallon to see if you enjoy it.
- Shake the milk vigorously after it thaws and before each use. Alternatively, use an immersion blender (or similar kitchen tool) to mix the fats back into the milk.
- Reserve previously-frozen milk for cooking, baking, and the family's morning cereal or oatmeal. It also works great for smoothies!
Milk and Other Flavors in the Freezer
Milk can be stored for up to three months. While opinions vary, a few months is a nice, safe range for the freshest milk, because milk can pick up flavors from your freezer. Even in that tough plastic jug, the milk can absorb the flavors of anything it is stored near.
Fish is the biggest culprit and fishy milk is no fun! If you can, store milk away from meats, fish, and other potentially pungent foods.
- Freeze milk prior to its expiration date. You will only be wasting valuable freezer space trying to salvage already bad milk.
- Skim and low-fat milk freeze best. The less fat a milk contains, the fewer issues you will have with the undesirable changes.