How to freeze milk and other types of dairy to best protect nutritional value and the types of containers that are best for preserving taste and texture.
I’ve coordinated a large buying club that supports several local dairy farms for nearly two decades. During that time, I’ve answered all manner of questions on freezing milk and proper use, storage, and fermentation of dairy products both pasteurized and fresh from the cow (or goat).
It’s exciting to witness an ever-increasing number of people seeking to source food locally. We now even have a local farm in our community that produces a small amount of fresh milk from water buffalo!
The tricky part of the trend toward local food production is that a learning curve and education process are necessary with regard to knowing exactly where your food comes from and how it is produced.
This is something that is entirely unnecessary when you robotically buy dead, fractionated, frankenfoods on a grab-and-go basis from the dairy aisle of the supermarket.
Below are the most common questions I have been asked over the years about how to properly handle and store milk and other dairy products. If you are new to sourcing your dairy from a local farm, I hope this information saves you some time getting up to speed on the process.
The most frequent question I get asked about milk is can it be frozen? The reason people are interested in freezing milk is because, in some parts of the world, fresh dairy is hard to come by, so folks are organizing groups to drive long distances to pick up larger quantities once a month for multiple families.
The trick with that is how to best keep the milk fresh for drinking until the next dairy road trip.
The good news is most definitely yes! You can freeze milk with no problem.
Both pasteurized and raw milk can be frozen, and freezing milk does not harm its nutritional profile or destroy enzymes and probiotics in the case of raw dairy.
Dr. Weston A. Price, author of the nutritional classic Nutrition and Physical Degeneration found that even after being frozen for one year, butter suffered no degradation in either enzymes or fat-soluble vitamins. (1)
The trickiest part about freezing milk, cream, butter, buttermilk, yogurt, or kefir is choosing the most appropriate container to use.
I personally do not choose and would not recommend glass for freezing milk and other types of dairy due to the danger of breakage.
If you must use glass for whatever reason, make sure the container is not completely full and the lid is cracked or open to release any pressure that builds up.
The linked article provides more tips on choosing and using glass versus plastic containers for safely freezing food.
When freezing raw milk or nonhomogenized, low-temp pasteurized milk, be sure to shake it up really well first before putting it in the freezer.
This distributes the cream evenly. It’s a good idea to take the jug out and shake it up once or twice more before it is totally frozen for the same reason.
Note that once cream top milk has thawed, sometimes the cream will have a slight texture to it and might not feel completely smooth on the tongue like it did before it was frozen.
You will be happy to know that this little bit of grittiness with the cream portion of thawed milk isn’t a safety or nutritional problem, but it does bother some people.
Knowing how to properly freeze milk and other fresh from the farm dairy products is also helpful when traveling. This article details how to easily travel with dairy on an airplane.
While the question of freezing milk is definitely the most common question I receive as a dairy club coordinator, the second most common concern usually takes the form of a frantic email or text late in the afternoon or evening of dairy pickup day:
Sarah, I completely forgot about my raw dairy in the trunk of my car, and it has been sitting in there all day! Has it gone bad or can I use it anyway?