Can You Freeze Milk—and Should You?

Find out whether your favorite creamy beverage—whether it's dairy, oat, almond, or coconut—can handle a deep freeze.

<p>Qwart/Getty Images</p>

Qwart/Getty Images

If you tend to have leftover milk that goes bad before you finish it, there's no need to let it go to waste. It turns out, you can freeze milk and preserve it for months so you have it ready for your next baking project or smoothie fest.

And it doesn't matter if it's dairy milk or plant-based milk—the storage strategies and thawing methods are similar. Here's everything you need to know about how to freeze milk.

Related: 6 Foods You Should Never Freeze, Surprisingly

Tips for Freezing Milk

If you need to freeze milk, it's a relatively simple process—but there are some tips and tricks that can help you make the most of every drop.

Leave room for the milk to expand

The biggest mistake you can make when you're freezing milk is to fill it to the brim of the bag or container you're using. Liquids expand when they're frozen, and that could lead to a broken container and a big mess in your freezer. Use a freezer-safe container or bag, and leave at least two inches of room for expansion as it freezes.

Understand how freezing may impact milk texture

There's one minor issue with freezing milk, whether it's dairy milk or plant milk: Freezing and thawing can impact the texture. The milk generally becomes thinner and a bit less creamy. And in some instances, you may end up with some separation, where the thicker solids separate from the liquid parts of the milk.

It shouldn't be a deal breaker, though. Simply shake or blend the milk after it thaws to help its texture.

Consider portioning the milk out

Think about how you'll plan to use the milk after you thaw it, and package it up in portions that make sense. For instance, if you plan to use smaller amounts, freeze the milk in an ice cube tray (each standard cube is about one ounce of milk), then put the ice cubes into a freezer-safe bag to stash them.

This can be especially helpful for buttermilk and other milk products you may want to use a small amount of.

Freeze your milk sooner, rather than later

Dairy products in particular tend to lose quality pretty quickly—so if possible, don't wait until the sell by date to make the move to the freezer. That'll help ensure that your milk is as fresh as possible when you defrost it to use.

Use frozen milk for cooking, baking, and blending

Because freezing and thawing can impact the texture of the milk, it might be a little less than ideal for drinking straight up. But in applications where it's being blended in with other ingredients, whether it's a coffee drink, cake, or smoothie, you won't notice the change in texture.

Related: 18 Fruit Smoothie Recipes You Can Make in Minutes

Try to use frozen milk within a few months

Frozen milk isn't going to go "bad," but it will decline in quality gradually. You should plan to use most milk within a few months of freezing it.

Freezing Cow's Milk

Since there is such a thing as ice cream, you're probably aware that milk can be easily frozen. But depending on what kind of dairy product you're freezing, your results may vary.

How to freeze milk or cream

You can freeze milk or cream in a freezer-safe container, ice cube trays, or in the original container (as long as you leave room for expansion!).

How to freeze evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk

Obviously, since these are usually packaged in cans, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk can last for a long time on your pantry shelves. But if your recipe calls for only a portion of a can and you won't be using it soon for something else, you can freeze your leftovers as you would regular milk.

Do not freeze milk in cans

The cans will keep your milk preserved for years without freezing—and since liquid expands when it's freezing and cans are filled to the brim, you are setting yourself up for a potentially dangerous issue as the milk freezes.

How to freeze buttermilk

Buttermilk tends to be one of those ingredients that come in larger containers, but only require a small amount for recipes. Like other milk products, buttermilk will become a bit thinner and may separate when it's frozen and thawed—but you can shake or blend the buttermilk to help bring it back together.

Related: How to Make Buttermilk at Home—Plus, Easy Buttermilk Substitutions

How to freeze other dairy products

Many cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt can also be frozen. Freezing and thawing may impact the texture and make the sour cream and yogurt thinner or cause them to separate. You can always stir or blend the product again to improve the consistency.

Related: Can You Freeze Mozzarella Cheese?

Freezing Plant-Based Milks

Whether you're a fan of almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk, you can freeze it using the same techniques as dairy milk. Keep in mind that some types of plant milk—such as almond milk and coconut milk—may experience more separation during the freeze-thaw process, and it may be harder to get it to reincorporate.

How to Thaw Frozen Milk

The best way to defrost frozen milk is the slow method: Place the container of frozen milk in your fridge, and let it thaw for at least 24 hours. (Obviously, the larger the container, the longer it'll take for it to defrost.)

In a pinch, you can also try defrosting in the microwave, but use the lowest setting and small increments of time—especially if you're planning to use it for a cold drink or on cereal, rather than in cooking.

If your milk separated, try shaking, stirring, or blending it to bring it back to a proper consistency before you use it.

For more Real Simple news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Real Simple.