Freezing is an option for milk lovers

By Linda Geist

University of Missouri Extension

Freezing offers milk drinkers a way to keep nutritious milk on hand at all times, says University of Missouri Extension dairy specialist Reagan Bluel. She works with producers in the heart of southwestern Missouri dairy land.

To extend the shelf life of pasteurized milk, freeze in freezer-safe plastic or glass containers at zero degrees Fahrenheit, says MU Extension nutrition and health specialist Sarah Wood. Allow extra space at the top for expansion: at least a half inch in wide-mouthed pint jars and an inch for quart jars. Allow 1 ½ inches in regular-mouth pint and quart jars. Put lids on containers.

Thaw in the refrigerator to keep it safe, Wood says. After milk thaws, shake well or run through the blender to distribute fat and solids that might have settled. Use within a few days.

Frozen milk may take on a yellow tinge. This is because the riboflavin in the milk does not freeze as quickly as the other ingredients. This does not affect its safety or nutritional value, but the taste may change. If the flavor is undesirable, use the milk for cooking and baking.

Always choose high-quality products to freeze, Wood says. Freezing does not improve quality.

Dairy lovers will be happy to hear that butter also freezes well. Use moisture-vapor-proof freezer wrap or containers to keep butter from absorbing odors and to prevent freezer burn. Butter in its original carton can be overwrapped.

Processed and natural cheeses also freeze well, although some may become crumbly. For best results, grate the cheese then freeze in an airtight bag. Blocks should be 1 pound or less and no more than 1 inch thick.

Bluel says freezing is an economical move whenever butter and cheese go on sale. Single-person households might save money by buying milk by the gallon and freezing it in smaller quantities to prevent waste.

Bluel says there is more good news for dairy lovers: Ice cream freezes well for several months.

For more information, the MU Extension publication “How to Freeze Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs and Dairy Products” (GH1504) is available for free download at