Estimating how much milk you will use before the best before date is a bit of a battle. Every week is a little different, and keeping an eye on the best before dates can be a frustrating hassle while meal planning, and preparing for future baking. Thus, freezing milk may be the best solution you have to extend the milk’s shelf life and avoid needless waste. Leading to the question of what is the best way to freeze milk?
The first thing to note is that you should never freeze milk in the paper carton, to ensure that your milk is frozen correctly/stored is to ensure that it is in an airtight container. You may even want to split your milk into multiple small plastic jugs instead of one big one. Freezing milk should be done before the best buy date, and never be in a glass container. Milk expands when it freezes and could crack out of containers. To avoid a mess, leave room in the plastic container for the milk to expand inside.
Of course, these tips are critical to freezing your milk correctly, but there is more to just freezing milk than just popping it in the freezer in a plastic bottle with some space to grow. There is also the matter of thawing and which milks may be the best for freezing, as well as logistical questions in how to properly freeze or understand in the freezing of different kinds of milk.
How Do Different Kinds of Milks Freeze?
Every kind of milk freezes a little differently and looks different throughout their freezing process. Though the tip to ensure that you don’t freeze the milk in their paper cartons goes for all types of milk, there are different tips for milk that come in various types of packaging while freezing them.
- Dairy Milk
- The milk from a cow freezes well, though there may be some separation
- Human Breast Milk
- There may be some harmless changes in the taste and smell of the frozen breast milk, and the fat separates when frozen
- Almond Milk
- This milk will also separate in the freezer, and it becomes grainy while it freezes
- Soy Milk
- This is another milk that may separate while freezing
- Coconut Milk
- Any kind of canned milk should not be frozen in their cans, and coconut milk may separate while freezing
- Evaporated Milk
- This milk may separate after freezing, and should never be frozen in its can as well
- Sweetened Condensed Milk
- This kind of milk will not freeze solid like other milk; this is because of its high sugar content. Again, like all canned milk, do not freeze it in its can
- Oat Milk
- This milk may separate and become grainy after freezing
- Goat’s Milk
- This milk freezes really well, there may be some light separation but other than that it freezes well
- Flax Milk
- This milk may separate after freezing as well, just like other plant-based milk
- Shelf Stable Milk (carton)
- Shelf-stable milk has a long shelf-life/expiry date and doesn’t require freezing to keep it for a long time. Unless it’s been opened there shouldn’t be much reason to freeze shelf-stable milk.
These are the general things to keep in mind while freezing milk. There are a few trends to keep in mind, like avoiding freezing them in the carton or can, and that there may be light separation after freezing for all of them. However, most importantly, most types of milk can be frozen so long as you are careful to be sure that you freeze them in airtight containers that leave room for the milk to expand as it freezes.
How Do You Properly Defrost Frozen Milk?
Freezing milk can be safely done for up to about three months, but it’s more advised to use it within the first month of freezing the milk. A big fear when defrosting milk is that it isn’t shelf-stable, and thus, you shouldn’t try to just defrost it by setting it on the counter until it unfreezes. Setting frozen milk out to defrost on the counter risks the potential of bacterial growth in the milk, as the longer milk sits at room temperature in any situation, the more likely the bacterial growth could cause illness.
The best way to defrost frozen milk is by putting it in the fridge. This can help reduce the risk of bacterial growth in milk. If you need the milk to be defrosted quicker than the refrigerator, defrosting it in cold water is a solution, but keep in mind that this could still pose a risk of bacterial growth. This option is much better than just leaving it on the counter, however, and it poses only a slightly increased risk. To ensure the safety of your milk while defrosting it in cold water, replace the water every time it reaches room temperature. Constantly checking on the temperature of the water you are defrosting in is critical to the safety of the frozen milk. This in mind, you should absolutely never thaw frozen milk by putting it in warm or hot water, no matter how urgently you need the milk.
If you are planning on using the milk right away in cooking, you can cook with frozen milk. As such, you can put the frozen milk directly in the pot or pan as you’re cooking but using this as a method to defrost is not suggested. As such, you should only use this method as you are cooking.
What Are The Best Uses of Frozen Milk?
As we went over above, the milk may undergo some changes through the freezing and thawing process. Some types of milk become grainy, some separate while they defrost, and other minor harmless changes that change the texture of the milk—as such, frozen and defrosted milk is much better suited for cooking, baking or making smoothies. The defrosted milk may have ended up with a texture that is unpleasant for beverages like teas and coffees but could be blended or mixed into smoothies or baking without a problem.
The change in texture is completely safe to drink if you defrosted and stored the milk properly. If you want to try and make the texture of the milk more appetizing, then it is possible to run it through a blender to reverse the fat separation.
Freezing milk can help you avoid waste and save money if done correctly and safely.
The best tips that can be offered in freezing milk is to freeze them in smaller quantities so that you don’t have to commit to thawing the whole gallon at once. It’s not recommended that you freeze and thaw milk more than once. The milk does change texture harmlessly and separate while thawing or during freezing, so it’s suggested that frozen milk be used for baking, making smoothies or cooking rather than putting it in beverages or using it to make chocolate milk. This state is harmless but could be an unpleasant texture for drinking it straight as is.
Keeping in mind that it can be held in the freezer for up to three months, it is more recommended that the sooner you can use it, the better. Milk is known to pick up other flavours from within the fridge, even in its plastic jug. Keep your milk away from anything with a strong scent in the freezer, such as fish, meats and anything else that may be considered pungent in odour. Finally, always freeze milk before its best before date, and never after.