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How to freeze milk easily to take advantage of sales, stock up for emergencies, or simply store your home-produced milk for a dry season.
Milk is one of the more expensive grocery items in our area.
So when I see a sale (not common here) I really like to stock up as much as possible to cut down on our grocery budget.
If you are wanting to lower your grocery budget too, then the best place to start is taking advantage of good deals when you find them.
Since milk and meat are often the most expensive items it makes good sense to start freezing your own milk.
How To Freeze Milk
Milk is so easy to freeze! Unlike vegetables, it needs little care before putting it up. You can even freeze it in the same container that you bought it in.
Just remember that milk does expand when it freezes.
How To Freeze A Gallon Jug Of Milk
Should You Pour Off Some Milk First?
It was always commonly recommended that before you froze milk to open the container and pour off an inch or so.
This is because milk expands as it freezes and people worried about the jugs of milk breaking in the freezer.
But is it really necessary to do that?
I’ve frozen milk many times without pouring out any milk and never had a problem with it cracking or leaking.
Many plastic milk jugs have expandable circles on the sides that allow the container to expand when the milk is frozen too.
But if you want to pour off some milk to use right away you certainly can.
1. Date It
Before freezing take a permanent market and clearly write the date on the jug. This will help you to make sure you are using up the oldest jugs of milk first so that it doesn’t go to waste.
2. Shake It Up
Before placing milk into the freezer give it a good shake. This helps to mix the fat in with the milk well so that it freezes better.
If you are freezing raw or whole milk this is really an important step but with skim milk, it’s more optional since it’s so low in fat already.
Can You Freeze Cartons Of Milk?
Milk needs to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and often the paper cartons can leak air.
I don’t recommend freezing milk in cartons, instead keep some airtight plastic containers on hand to pour the milk into before freezing.
Can You Freeze Bags Of Milk?
Yes! Here in Canada most of our milk is sold in sealed plastic bags. I’ve frozen these successfully for years and I can still remember my grandmother freezing her milk often too.
I think in many ways it works better than the larger plastic jugs because the milk freezes and thaws faster in smaller portions.
Plus there is already lots of headroom in the bags so you never have to worry about opening them to drain off extra milk before freezing.
How To Freeze Small Amounts Of Milk
If you have just a little extra milk you can easily freeze it in smaller amounts too.
Milk can be frozen in mason jars if you are avoiding plastic. Wide mouth jars are the best ones to use.
Simply fill the jar with milk leaving at least 1 inch of headroom below the shoulders of the jar. This gives enough room for the milk to expand and less likely that the jar would break.
If you often use recipes that use a few tablespoons of milk then try freezing them in ice cube trays.
After they are fully frozen transfer them into airtight freezer bags. Then you can just pull out the amount you need for your recipe.
If you love to make smoothies or other recipes that need 1-2 cups of milk at a time then freezing milk in freezer bags is a great option.
Simply pour the milk into the freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible and lay the bags flat in your freezer until they have fully frozen.
How To Thaw The Milk
Cold Water Method
Fill your sink or another container with cold water and place the jug of milk in it.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and shake the milk well. Set the timer for another 30 minutes and continue shaking the milk until it’s completely thawed.
Dry off the outside of the container and place it in your fridge.
Remove the milk from the freezer and place it onto a towel in your fridge.
You can simply leave it overnight to thaw and shake it up well in the morning. But you may find better results if you shake it every hour while it’s thawing. So set a timer to remind you.
I’ve found that frequent shaking helps to mix the milk up better rather than waiting until it’s fully thawed.
How Long Is Thawed Milk Good For?
Normally, thawed milk is good for 5-7 days but that can, of course, depend on how cold your fridge is.
Does Freezing Milk Change The Taste?
I’m often asked if freezing milk changes the taste, and the truth is yes it does change the milk but it’s easily fixable!
Milk separates as its frozen, this simply means that the fat and the milk are separate in the container after freezing.
But all you need to do is to shake the milk well when it’s being thawed or after and it mixes back together just fine and tastes perfectly normal!
How Long Does Frozen Milk Last?
If you’ve been wondering if freezing milk really helps it last longer, yes it really does!
Milk can be frozen for 3-6 months which means you can safely stock up on sales to last your family for a long time.
If you have your own milk cow or goat it’s also a great way to store milk for when your animals production slows down.
Just make sure to clearly date the containers so that you can keep rotating your supply.
Why Does Milk Turn Yellow When Frozen?
When you freeze milk it often turns a funny yellow color and this might surprise you at first.
What causes the yellow color is the separation of fat and milk.
But don’t worry it’s perfectly normal and after thawing and mixing it up again your milk will be its normal white color.
If you are trying to build your pantry then you’ll want to learn how to freeze fresh bread too!
- If freezing milk in a plastic milk gallon container or milk bag, shake it well, label it with the date and place it into your freezer.
- If you are using a different plastic or glass container make sure it has enough headroom for the milk to expand. If needed pour off an inch of milk before freezing.
- For small amounts of milk pour it into ice cube trays to freeze then seal them in an airtight freezer bag once fully frozen.
- You can also freeze milk in 1-2 cup portions in freezer bags by removing as much air as possible, labeling with the date and laying them flat in your freezer to thaw.
To Thaw Milk Cold Water Method
- To thaw your milk quickly fill your sink with cold water and place the jug of milk in it. Every 30 minutes shake the milk to help mix it together as it thaws. Set a timmer to help you not to forget, and change the water to replace with fresh cold water as needed.
Refrigerator Thaw Method
- If you don’t need the milk thawed right away then place the jug into your fridge set on top of a towel to absorb any condensation. Shake the milk jug every hour to mix the milk and fat back together. Remember to set a timer to help you remember.
- Frozen milk is good for 3-6 months in your freezer.
- Most plastic gallon jugs of milk today handle freezing fine without needing to pour off extra milk.
- If freezing milk in mason jars or other glass containers always make sure to leave 1 inch of headroom below the shoulders of the jar. Try to use wide-mouth jars when available.
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Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.