Freezing milk is an excellent solution to accidentally overbuying milk or best before dates that are sneaking up on you. Though the FDA recommends that frozen milk should be consumed within three months of freezing, most people suggest using it within the first month to avoid it absorbing scents.
Milk can be frozen, but of course, some milk freezes better than others. What milk freezes the best?
This question is surprisingly simple to answer; the best two kinds of milk to freeze are cows milk and goat’s milk. Both of them may see a little separation of the fat while freezing or thawing, but of all kinds of milk, these two freezes the absolute best. Most kinds of milk freeze with some separation, such as soy milk and human breast milk, but for the most part, all kinds of milk freeze surprisingly well. The only changes that happen to milk are the harmless changes in texture that could be unappetizing to drink straight but will be unnoticeable in baking or smoothies.
Though most kinds of milk freeze well, it is only because of how they are frozen that allows milk to be okay for consumption upon thawing.
Related: Best Ways to Freeze Milk
How Do You Freeze Milk?
The first thing you need to know about freezing milk is that you should never freeze it in the container it comes in. Milk should be frozen in an airtight plastic jug, with enough space for the milk to expand while it freezes. As such, paper cartons, glass jugs, and cans should never be used to freeze milk under any circumstances.
Milk does expand as it freezes, which means that if you freeze it in glass, it will crack. Additionally, the carton is unsafe to freeze milk in as it isn’t airtight at all, and thus you should transfer the milk into a plastic jug before freezing any milk that comes in the carton. A good tip to consider before freezing the milk is that you should never freeze, thaw and then refreeze milk. As such, consider freezing the milk in smaller jugs so that you don’t have to commit to the entire jug all at once while thawing the milk.
Another option for freezing milk is in ice cube trays. If you intend to use the milk for smoothies or cooking, for example, this may be the best option for you. This option takes up less space in the freezer, and it’s recommended that after freezing the milk ice cubes overnight in the ice cube trays, that you transfer them to freezer-safe ziplock bags for future use. Leave enough room for the milk to expand in the trays, and as long as you keep the cubes frozen before use, they are completely safe to freeze this way.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Milk?
The most important part of thawing frozen milk is to ensure that you avoid allowing bacteria to grow in the milk while it is defrosting. Milk isn’t shelf-stable, meaning that keeping it at room temperature for an extended period is dangerous, and the milk will spoil. Bacterial growth in milk is dangerous to consume and can cause illnesses when it’s ingested. Thus, knowing how to defrost milk without allowing bacterial growth to happen safely is imperative.
The single best way to defrost milk is in the fridge. Keeping the milk in the refrigerator while it thaws helps keep the milk at a safe temperature, and reduces the risk of bacterial growth substantially. Defrosting the milk by putting it on the counter and waiting for it to unfreeze is incredibly ill-advised and should not be done. If you need a faster way to thaw your milk than in the fridge, you should put the milk jug in cold water instead of leaving it on the counter. This method poses a slightly higher risk of bacterial growth than just putting it in the fridge, but it is the quickest way to thaw the milk if you need it more urgently. However, it is important to remember to check on the water and change it every time the water reaches a lukewarm temperature. Keeping the water cold while the milk is thawing is essential to ensuring that it is safe for consumption afterwards. Never put the milk in hot or warm water to thaw it, this is just as bad — if not worse — than leaving it on the counter to thaw.
If you are planning on using the milk right away for cooking or making a smoothie, you can use the frozen milk right away while frozen. Putting an ice cube on the pan or directly in the blender to thaw while it’s cooked or be blended is completely fine to do. So long as you are immediately using the frozen milk for cooking, putting it on the pan or in a pot while you are cooking is fine.
What Happens to Frozen Milk?
Though cows milk and soy milk freeze the best with the least amount of changes, every kind of milk looks a little different when frozen. Though all the changes should be completely harmless if done right, knowing what to look for can help ensure your milk has adequately frozen. Additionally, all of these kinds of milk are suggested to be frozen in plastic jugs and not in their original containers.
- 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 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.
The changes in texture that some of these kinds of milk undergo can be considered unappetizing, while still being completely harmless. If the milk you froze has become grainy or separated in the freezing process, you can put the milk in a blender to attempt to solve this an make it more appetizing. However, frozen milk is best advised to be used in smoothies, baking and cooking instead of in coffees, teas or chocolate milk.
Keep in mind while freezing milk that milk is incredibly notorious for picking up odours in the freezer. This happens regardless of the plastic jug you have put the milk in. As such, the best way to avoid this is to store the milk away from pungent foods like fish and raw meat and to use it within a month of freezing the milk. Additionally, all milk should be frozen before their best before date and never afterwards to help ensure the safety of the milk.
All milk is safe to freeze as long as you freeze it according to the recommendations above. The best kind of milk to freeze is cow and soy, but depending on your needs, you can freeze all kinds of milk to prolong their usage in the kitchen and save money.