If your milk is nearing its expiration date, and you don’t think it will last in the fridge, you may want to make it last longer by freezing it.
Freezing does change milk, so it’s important to do it right and understand how frozen milk is different from fresh.
Let’s find out more!
Can You Freeze Milk?
You can freeze fresh, unexpired milk in an airtight container, and keep it in the freezer for up to three months.
Precautions when Freezing Milk
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when freezing milk:
Choose the right containers for freezing
Milk needs to be frozen in an air-tight container because it will pick up odors and flavors from other items in the freezer.
Don’t freeze it in a paper milk carton or an ice cube tray; a plastic jug with a tight-fitting lid is best.
Reduced-fat milk freezes best
The fats in milk freeze at a lower temperature than the water, so lower fat milk freezes more quickly and thaws better than higher fat milk.
Leave room for expansion
Milk will expand as it freezes, which is why you should not freeze it in glass containers.
Always leave the room at the top of the container for the milk to expand.
Milk turns yellow and the fats separate after freezing
Organic milk keeps its color better than non-organic, but milk will discolor and the texture will change. We’ll look at some solutions for this below.
Thawed milk does not have a “renewed” expiration date
In other words, if your milk is three days shy of the expiration date, and you freeze it for a month, you still need to drink the thawed milk within three days.
When freezing milk, it’s a great idea to label the container with the original expiration date and the date you froze it.
**What about buttermilk? Find out if you can freeze it in this guide here!**
How to Freeze and Thaw Milk
If you are saving milk because you use it slowly, it’s best to freeze it in small containers, so you are only thawing a little bit at a time.
To freeze milk
- Use cold milk that is already at refrigerator temperature. Don’t freeze room temperature milk.
- Place it in airtight plastic containers or bags, leaving room for expansion.
- Label it with the original expiration date and the date you are freezing it.
- Place it in the freezer.
To thaw milk
- Remove it from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator. Remember to use it within the original expiration period, or within one week, whichever is sooner.
- To make it thaw faster, you can place it in a container of cold water. Don’t thaw milk at room temperature or use heat to make it thaw more quickly.
To restore thawed milk that has separated
After freezing, it’s natural for milk to turn yellow, and for the fats to have separated out and risen to the top.
The fats in milk freeze at a lower temperature than the water, so freezing separates them and gives the milk a grainy texture, and higher fat milk is more affected.
After the milk has thawed, use a blender or shake it vigorously to combine the fat and the liquid. You may need to blend it again before each use.
Uses for Thawed Frozen Milk
If you have frozen milk but don’t care for the altered color and texture, and don’t want to drink it like fresh milk, there are still some great ways to use this milk and not let it go to waste.
Smoothies, milkshakes, protein drinks
Since blending helps to restore the texture of milk anyway, a smoothie or milkshake is a great way to use milk that has been frozen.
Custards and puddings
In most custards and puddings, you are gently whisking milk into an egg preparation, which creates an emulsion.
This emulsion re-combines the separated fat and liquid in the milk, restoring the creamy texture.
Most sauces that use milk (like a bechamel) involve whisking milk into the other ingredients, which will restore the texture.
So, while you may not want to use thawed frozen milk in your cereal or your coffee, there are still many great ways to enjoy your milk, make it last longer, and get the most value for your money.
Recommended Article: Can you freeze eggs? Do you actually need to?
Can milk be frozen and used later?
Yes, milk can be frozen and used up to three months later.
Why does milk turn yellow when frozen?
The B-vitamins and beta carotene in cow’s milk are water-soluble.
When the fats separate from the water during freezing, the natural yellow color of these vitamins changes the color of the water in milk.
It is not harmful, and the vitamins are still effective, but the color change can be startling.
How do you use frozen milk?
Many times the color and texture changes of frozen milk make it less appealing for use in coffee, cereal, or drinking, although it is still safe to use.
If the altered color and texture are a problem, you can still use frozen milk in smoothies and shakes, and in cooking and baking.
Can you reheat frozen milk?
You should not use heat to thaw frozen milk.
Once frozen milk has been thawed, you can heat it as you normally would.