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Food & Recipes

Yes, You Can Keep Milk Fresh for 3 Months — The Freezer Secret That Saves You Money

Use this trick next time milk goes on sale for more money in your pocket!

Maybe you’ve found a great deal on milk at the grocery store, but hesitate to stock up since it will probably go bad before you can use it all. Or maybe you’ve got an adult child who comes home and drinks half a carton before disappearing again. And you just hate to toss it out. The good news: You can load up your cart with bargains and never throw out half a carton again because you can actually freeze milk, and it will last for up to three months. Not a dairy drinker? You can freeze other ‘milks’ like almond and soy milk, too. Keep reading to learn how to freeze milk properly.

Why is it important to freeze milk correctly?

Although milk is a common fridge staple, it’s more complex than you might think. Milk’s structure is made up of fat, protein, sugar and water. These all work together to create its signature silky smooth texture. Freeze milk incorrectly, and it can get freezer burn or absorb the odor of other foods. Here, the how-tos that save you from oh-nos.

What is the best way to freeze milk?

Here are four tips the next time you’re freezing milk to ensure best results:

  1. Double-check that the milk is fresh. Before you attempt to freeze your milk, make sure you check the sell-by date on the carton. As long as that date hasn’t passed, your milk should be good to freeze (although, doing a quick sniff-check can’t hurt).  
  2. Choose the right vessel to store it in. Like other liquids, milk expands in freezing temperatures. That means you’ll want to be mindful of the container it’s stored in. Milk is fine to store in its original container if it’s made out of plastic. That’s because plastic is unlikely to crack like thin glass or paper containers. If your milk comes in a glass or paper container, transfer it to a plastic freezer-safe container like a resealable zip-top bag. Whatever you’re freezing milk in, just be sure the container is not filled to the brim. You may need to use a bit first if it’s in a plastic jug from the store.
  3. Store it in an odor-free area. Milk is known to easily absorb scents, so you’ll have to be particular about where you store it in your freezer. Try to keep it away from meats and fish, as these can make your milk smell bad. 
  4. Keep separation in mind. Frozen milk might also change textures due to the separation of fats in the milk. Low-fat milk like 1% and 2% will freeze better and have less separation, since they’re lower in fat content. Whole milk will separate slightly upon freezing, but it still freezes well. If the separation bothers you, simply put the milk into a blender once thawed and blend until smooth — good as new! 

If you’re freezing just a bit of leftover milk, here’s a tip First for Women test kitchen manager Susan Chiusano swears by: Use ice cube trays. “Once they’re frozen, just transfer the cubes to a zip-top bag for easy storage,” she says. This trick also means you can more easily customize how much milk you thaw at once. (Click through for the best ways to freeze other foods.)

Can you freeze dairy-free milk?

If you’re freezing plant-based milk alternatives like almond or soy milk, they can take on a grainy texture. So you might not want to freeze your plant-based milk if you plan to drink it on it’s own, but feel free to do it if you’re using it in recipes. 

How do you thaw frozen milk?

To thaw frozen milk, Laura Fuentes of the MOMables YouTube channel suggests removing the container from the freezer and placing in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, shake the container really well to blend the milk solids with the rest of the liquid.

Need to thaw your milk in minutes? Place the container in a bowl or pot filled with cold water and allow to thaw for about 10 to 15 minutes. Once your milk is thawed, don’t refreeze it and be sure to consume it within three days. For additional tips on how to safely freeze and thaw milk, watch Fuentes’ video below:

What can I do with frozen milk that’s thawed?

Thawed milk may have a separated consistency makes it less than ideal to drink on its own, even though it’s perfectly safe to do so. Instead, use it for all of your cooking and baking needs, from whipping up a batch of pancakes to this recipe for Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. You can also add defrosted milk to your morning smoothie for extra creaminess and protein. As you can see, freezing milk is the way to go for getting the most uses out of a single carton!

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