How long does milk last? Can you freeze milk? Let us answer all your milk related storage queries.
At Arla, we’re big on milk.
We think it’s one of tastiest, most versatile and most enjoyable drinks out there, packed with essential nutrients¹ and ideal for all kinds of things, from pouring across your cereal in the morning to having a quick glass ahead of bed. That’s not to mention everything you can cook with milk as an ingredient!
One question we often get about milk and our milk-based products is that of storage. People regularly ask ‘what is the best way to store milk?’, so we thought we’d come up with a quick guide to show you what the best storage methods are for different kinds of milk, answering your most frequently asked questions to help you out in the kitchen:
How and where should milk be stored?
When thinking about where to store milk, temperature is the key factor.
When milk gets exposed to air it will lose its freshness quicker and go off much faster, so it’s important to keep it sealed and store it in a chilled place. With that in mind, to maximise freshness and to ensure the long-life, make sure to store milk in the fridge as soon as you’ve bought it. You’ll want to check that the temperature setting in your fridge is correct too – 1-4 degrees Celsius is just right, not too cold and not too warm.
If you can, storing milk at the back of the fridge is always a good move. The further away from the door the milk is, the more consistently chilled it will be, safe from the constantly changing temperature outside and safe from going off.
Speaking of milk going off, we often hear the question ‘can you drink milk past its use by date?’. The answer to that is that you should trust your nose and your mouth over a use by date on a milk carton or bottle. Each year, nearly 490 million pints of milk are incorrectly thrown away because of use by dates², so it’s always better to smell and taste milk before you discard it after the use by date.
Can you freeze milk?
Another common question asks ‘is it okay to freeze milk?’, and the answer is yes, it is! Freezing milk is entirely possible, but there are some things³ you should remember when doing so.
Here’s how to freeze milk safely:
- Freeze your milk as soon as you can, ideally once you’ve got home after buying it and certainly before the use by / best-before date
- Milk expands when frozen! It’s always best to transfer it from the bottle or carton you bought it into a safe and airtight freezer container to prevent any milk explosions.
- When you need the milk, be sure to let it defrost for at least 24 hours in the fridge before you drink it.
- Once the milk is defrosted, be sure to drink it all within a couple of days and don’t refreeze it.
How long does milk last frozen and what is the best milk to freeze?
Generally, it’s advised that you drink it within a month.⁴ You should also make sure to drink defrosted milk within a day or two after defrosting in the fridge.
As for the kind of milk you should be freezing, can you freeze skimmed milk? Can you freeze full fat milk? Absolutely! You can freeze all types including whole milk, semi-skimmed milk and skimmed milk. Remember that for all of these milk varieties, you should defrost in the fridge rather than at room temperature or warmer – never heat milk up to defrost it. The added heat can cause harmful bacteria to grow in the milk so it’s always worth remembering.
Can you freeze milk in a carton?
You should always transfer milk to another container to freeze it. Milk, like many other liquids can expand when frozen, so if you freeze it in a carton or glass bottle, the milk will expand and put pressure on the carton and might eventually explode in your freezer, coating everything in half-frozen milk.
When you want to freeze milk, store it in an airtight container and leave space for expansion by not filling it all the way – leave a good couple of inches spare.
That was our guide on storing and freezing milk! For specific information around Arla products and storage, always check the label for details – and if you’d like to learn more about milk and its many nutritional benefits, keep an eye on our blog for more guides and ideas.
¹Per 100ml milk is a natural source of protein, calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, phosphorus, iodine and potassium. Milk should be consumed as part of a healthy diet and balanced lifestyle.