As you probably know, milk can be frozen, but does freezing milk really make sense? Sometimes it does, sometimes not, it depends (quite a generic answer, but it seems to be the best one out there). In this article we will talk about both freezing milk and in which cases it does make sense and when it really won’t help much. If that sounds interesting, read on!
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When to consider freezing milk
So, before we can get to the heart of this article, we need to spend some time talking about when freezing milk really makes sense. For starters, many of us buy ultra pasteurized (UHT) milk with a pretty long shelf life. That’s why the case of having a few unopened cartons of milk that will shortly go bad never happens, especially because that at least 6 months long shelf life doesn’t mean the milk will go bad the day after. In almost all cases it will stay fine for another couple of months. So, if you have an unopened carton of ultra pasteurized milk, I wouldn’t even consider freezing it. On the other hand, if it’s a bottle of milk with a really short shelf life (couple of days), freezing seems to be the only option.
If a carton of milk is already opened, it will stay fine only for a couple of days, so if you can’t find a way to use those leftovers (or you simply need to leave for a few days and you don’t want to discard the milk), freezing is the only option as well.
Image used under Creative Commons from hobvias sudoneighm
How freezing affects milk
Ok, so we now know when freezing milk is really needed. The next question, possibly even more important is: how freezing and thawing affects milk? In short, freezing and thawing changes milk’s taste and consistency. What that means? If you plan to drink that milk after thawing, you might not like it. Some people like it, others don’t, it’s a matter of personal preferences. Therefore, I suggest freezing some milk as a test, thawing it after a few days and tasting it. If you’re satisfied with the outcome, great, if not, unfortunately freezing milk for drinking it in the future won’t work for you. Frozen and thawed milk works just fine in baked goods though, so that’s one way to use frozen milk if you don’t like the taste of thawed milk. One thing to note, low-fat/skim milks freeze better (i.e. they taste better after thawing) due to less separation than in full-fat milks.
The most important thing to remember when freezing milk is that it expands while freezing. Therefore, you need to have some head space in the bottle or container, so the expanding liquid won’t damage it and spill in the freezer. If you plan to freeze milk in its own container, make sure you pour out a bit before putting it into the freezer. You can also pour milk into few different containers, so you’ll be able to easily thaw just as much milk as you need at a time. It’s up to you. When it comes to choosing the container, make sure it’s airtight, so milk won’t pick up smells from other things in the freezer.
You can thaw milk in the fridge (it takes some time, put it in there a day before you’ll need it) or in a sink of cold water (few hours will be enough). After thawing make sure you stir it well (as mentioned earlier, milk separates when frozen).
As you can see the process of freezing milk itself is very easy. What’s more important is when it really makes sense to freeze milk and when not. The rule of thumb is: don’t freeze milk unless you really have to. As mentioned, testing out freezing milk and checking whether you’re satisfied with the outcome is a good idea before freezing a larger amount of milk.