Milk is a classic staple of most family kitchens. It can be used as a healthy drink, in cooking, and for hot drinks such as tea and coffee.
Because milk is something that is used so often in the home, you are more likely to run out of it than find yourself with a surplus. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
There may be times when you have too much milk or need to make your milk last longer than its refrigerator lifespan. In these situations, you can freeze the milk.
Below, we will look at how long you can freeze milk and how to defrost it.
How Long Can You Freeze Milk For?
Now that you know it is possible to freeze milk if you have extra or need it to last longer, you might be wondering how long milk can last in the freezer.
We all know that a carton or bottle of milk can last anywhere from 5 to 10 days in the fridge unopened or 4 to 7 days once it has been opened.
However, when you freeze milk, you significantly increase its shelf life. While there are many things that can be stored in a freezer for up to 6 months, this isn’t the case for milk.
When milk is frozen, it can be stored in the freezer for up to one month. Because of this relatively short time span, you should label when your milk is frozen or when it should be used by.
Can You Freeze Milk Alternatives?
The above information has used cow’s milk as an example of the length of time that milk lasts in the refrigerator. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t also freeze milk alternatives.
There are so many different types of non-dairy milk available from every grocery store. In fact, these are becoming more and more popular.
Thankfully, these kinds of milk can also be frozen when you need to prolong their shelf life or preserve surplus quantities. Milk alternatives should also only be frozen for around a month to protect the flavor and consistency of the milk.
How Should You Store Frozen Milk?
When you go to freeze milk, you might be wondering if the packaging that it came in is appropriate for storage in the freezer.
Some milk containers are fine to be placed straight in the freezer, but others are not. Below, we will look at how to store your frozen milk.
Plastic Container: If your milk comes in a plastic container such as a bottle, it is perfectly fine to freeze it in the bottle it was sold in.
Before you place the bottle in the freezer, make sure that there is around 1 to 1.5 inches of space at the top of the bottle. This will allow the milk room to expand as it freezes.
If there isn’t space at the top, you can remove some of the milk before freezing. Just make sure that the lid is securely tightened again after.
Milk Cartons: if your milk comes in a carton, this is not suitable to put in the freezer. This is because milk cartons tend to be filled to the brim which doesn’t allow room for the milk to expand in the freezer.
Removing the lid of the carton to remove some of the milk means that the container is no longer airtight and the milk will need to be decanted into another container before freezing.
How To Freeze Milk Safely
Freezing milk is a great way to avoid food waste and make the most of the milk you have in your house. However, it is important to make sure that you are freezing the milk properly to keep it in the best condition and keep your family safe.
Freeze As Soon As Possible
As we have mentioned, freezing milk is a great way to extend its shelf life. With that being said, if your milk is already nearing its use-by date or is starting to go off, freezing it won’t make it fresh again.
All freezing milk does is act like a pause button. The extremely cold temperature suspends the chemical reactions and bacteria growth that would naturally occur in refrigerated milk.
Because of this, you should try to freeze your milk as soon as possible.
If you find that you have too much milk or know you are going to be away and won’t use as much milk, freeze it as soon as you can. You can even decant half a bottle into an airtight container so you still have some fresh milk to use.
Make Sure The Container Is Airtight
When you decide to freeze your milk, make sure that it is in an airtight container. If you purchase milk in plastic bottles, these are suitable for freezing as long as you make sure the lid has been put on securely and tightly.
If you are decanting milk from a carton, you will need to opt for a container that can be sealed airtight and has enough room to leave a space for the milk to expand into.
If the bottle or container isn’t airtight, spores and smells from your freezer can get in and can affect the quality of the milk when it is defrosted.
Label The Milk
As we mentioned above, milk should only be kept frozen for a month. Any longer than this and the consistency and flavor of the milk can be affected.
It is important to make sure that you label your milk with the date it was frozen and the date it should be used by.
How To Defrost Milk
There are three main ways to safely defrost milk.
In the refrigerator: moving your frozen milk to the refrigerator is the best way to defrost your milk. It can take several hours but the consistency of the milk should be preserved.
In cold water: you can speed up the defrosting process slightly by submerging the container in cold water. Remember to keep refreshing the cold water as it warms up.
In cooking: if you are cooking with your frozen milk, you can add it straight to your recipe. Remember to break up the block of milk first to make it easier.
Freezing milk is a great way to avoid food waste and make the most of the milk that you have. If it is done properly, freezing doesn’t affect the quality, taste, or consistency of the milk.
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