Freezing Milk for Long-Term Storage

Freezing milk can be one solution to storing extra that can't be used before it spoils. Frozen milk tastes more like fresh milk than milk that has been canned, and can be used for any purpose that fresh milk is used: drinking, cereals, cooking, or making cheese or soap.

Any kind of milk can be frozen: your fresh pasteurized or unpasteurized goat milk, or fat-free, low-fat or whole milk purchased from the store.

Because freezing causes some separation, milk with a lower fat content will have less of a change in quality than whole-fat milk. That is not to say that whole-fat milk can't be frozen, but you will probably notice more of a taste difference than with low-fat or fat-free milk.

Individual tastes vary, however, so try it yourself to see what's acceptable to you. If you don't like the result, you may want to use your frozen milk for cooking, and save your fresh milk for drinking.

Freezing milk may sound like one of those no-brainer processes (you put it in a freezer, right?), but below is a set of tips to help you get the most value and least problems from freezing your milk.

Tip #1

Your frozen milk will be no better quality than what you put in. If your milk was on the verge of going bad when you put it in the freezer, it will still be on the verge of going bad when you take it out. Sure, you can buy some time while it's frozen, but when you thaw it, you will still need to use it immediately if you don't want to throw it away. The fresher the milk is when you freeze it, the better quality milk you will have when you thaw it.

Tip #2

Milk will taste more like fresh if it's frozen for 1 month or less. It's generally regarded as acceptable to freeze milk for as long as 3-6 months, but a longer time in the freezer will result in a more noticeable change in the quality of the milk.

Tip #3

Use smaller containers. Milk needs to be thawed in the refrigerator or in a pan of cold water. Larger containers, like gallon jugs, will take a very long time (days) for the center to completely thaw. Half-gallon, quart or pint-sized containers will do the job much better.

If you're purchasing milk in gallons because of the lower price, transfer the milk to smaller containers before freezing. (You can make a one-time purchase of several half-gallons of milk, and re-use the containers for freezing.)

Smaller containers also result in a faster freezing time, which helps preserve the quality of the milk.

Tip #4

Leave room in your container for expansion. Most figures I've seen suggest that milk expands by about 10% when it freezes. That means for every 10 cups of milk you freeze, you should leave at least a 1-cup space for expansion. This translates to approximately 1 1/2 cups per gallon.

Frozen goat milk in canning jar

Tip #5

Cover it. Milk readily absorbs odors, so be sure you use an airtight container when freezing. For best overall quality when freezing milk, glass canning jars seem to be the best choice. Yes, canning jars are also safe for freezing foods.

Tip #6

Start with cold milk. This tip is only relevant for those freezing farm-fresh milk. As explained in Home Milk Processing, a fast cooling rate for fresh or freshly pasteurized milk directly impacts the taste and spoilage rate.

Putting still-warm milk in the freezer will result in a cooling rate that is too slow to provide the best quality milk. Cool the milk as rapidly as possible before freezing, using either ice-water baths or an electric ice cream freezer.

Tip #7

Shake well. Even commercially homogenized milk will separate when freezing. When thawing is complete, vigorously shake or stir it to re-combine the components.

Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information on freezing milk!

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