Can You Freeze Milk?
Is freezing dairy liquids like milk and heavy cream a do or a don't? Here are our thoughts.
Whether you're approaching the best-by date or have to dash out of town before opening a new carton of milk, it can be tempting to pop milk and heavy cream in the freezer to save for later. But is it safe to freeze milk and heavy cream, and will it taste the same once thawed? Here’s what we found.
You can safely freeze milk — whether it's regular dairy milk (skim through whole) or buttermilk — for 1 to 2 months, but once thawed, it will only last a few days. It’s best to store milk in an airtight plastic jug or bottle with at least one-third of the container empty. Milk will expand as it freezes, and you want to make sure there’s enough room for it expand, without the bottle exploding.
There are some downsides to freezing dairy milk. To start, both milk and buttermilk will likely separate once thawed, so you will need to whisk the whey and the cream of the milk back together or shake well before using. It’s also best to thaw milk slowly in the refrigerator to lessen the separation. Finally, it’s important to note that dairy milk will change slightly in taste and texture once thawed, so it’s best to use thawed milk for cooking and baking (rather than drinking).
Similar to milk, heavy cream can be frozen for 1 to 2 months. It will also separate once thawed, but heavy cream's higher fat content does fare better — it separates less than lighter dairy products. To freeze, place your heavy cream in a plastic jug or carton, but make sure to leave some room for the heavy cream to expand once frozen.
It’s important to note that frozen-then-thawed heavy cream will not whip as nicely as fresh heavy cream. The heavy cream will develop ice crystals the longer it sits in your freezer, and the added water content will prevent the cream from becoming as voluminous as a carton of fresh heavy cream. If you plan to whip your cream, it’s best to do so in advance of freezing: Whip your heavy cream to soft peaks, dollop the mixture onto parchment paper-lined sheet trays, then freeze until firm and transfer to zip-top bags until ready to use.
If non-dairy and plant-based milks are a part of your regular diet, these can also be frozen and stored for about 2 months. Whether you have almond, soy, oat or even coconut milk, you can freeze all of these liquids, just be sure to store them in a plastic container and not in an aluminum can or glass jar.
Unfortunately, most non-dairy milks will also separate and become grainy once thawed because of the added water content needed to thin them. However, they are all each easily whisked or shaken back together once completely defrosted. A great method for storing non-dairy milk is in ice cubes trays; that way you can easily pull them from the freezer and pop them into smoothies and other blended beverages.
Yes, you can freeze milk, heavy cream and non-dairy milks. However, the overall taste and texture may change once thawed, resulting in a product that’s best for cooking and baking. If you have a surplus of dairy that you want to freeze before it goes bad, we suggest saving this product for future cooking and baking projects.