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After a bit of miscommunication, my wife and I ended up buying 6 litres of milk between us. I don't really want to waste it, so I'm wondering if it's safe to freeze some of it and defrost and use it later?

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The density of ice is around .92 g/mL, so you need to save an absolute minimum of 8% of the space in your container for expansion, 80 mL per liter. (For my fellow Americans coming across this, for a gallon, that's 1.3 cups. See why we should use metric?) Personally, I'd say better safe than sorry, and double that. –  Jefromi Oct 29 '10 at 16:39
    
@Jefromi, you just need the container to have enough airspace and flexibility. No amount of airspace would be enough for me to put a glass bottle in the freezer, but paper cartons can go in straight from the store. –  RBerteig Nov 1 '10 at 7:17
    
@RBerteig: I was just trying to quantify "enough airspace" by giving a clear upper bound. –  Jefromi Nov 1 '10 at 7:48
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@Jefromi, I didn't really intend to criticize the calculation. It is a good idea to have an upper bound in mind. I'd still be careful about glass bottles in freezers, though. Even though paper is usually fine, I'd inspect it for burst seams before thawing, as that saves a cleanup... –  RBerteig Nov 1 '10 at 7:59
    
@RBerteig: No worries. The extra advice on material is good. –  Jefromi Nov 1 '10 at 13:37

6 Answers 6

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Worked fine for us; we used to cottage with people who didn't want to shop very often, had lots of kids and a big freezer out back. We would buy lots of milk and freeze it just fine.

Do let it defrost completely before trying to use it.

We never noticed any separation, nor problems with expansion - do be aware of the container the milk is actually in, and if there is room in there for freezing to occur.

FYI - this specific experience was in Canada, and milk up here comes in bags that we then place into a pitcher-like contraption to use. Your specific container may or may not have enough space.

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Higher fat content milk can separate more, but homogenization seems to reduce the effect. If the milk does separate, it can be shaken or whipped (or used in baking if neither of those work). –  Bruce Alderson Oct 29 '10 at 16:07
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@sdg, tickled by the first line in your answer. hope you don't mind. Cottaging has a different meaning here in the UK. –  Tea Drinker Oct 29 '10 at 19:52
    
@Tea - ok, you have me intrigued... Care to share? Or can you on a family cooking site? :-) –  sdg Oct 31 '10 at 0:15
    
@sdg en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottaging –  Tea Drinker Oct 31 '10 at 16:23
    
@Tea Drinker, That is a prime example of two cultures separated by a common language. ;-) As for frozen milk, I remember freezing it part way deliberately when I was a kid. Milk was good just at the point where crystals started to form. It also helped make low-fat milk taste better by removing some of the water. –  RBerteig Nov 1 '10 at 7:15

Absolutely. We always buy twice as much as we need and freeze the extra.

Open the milk and pour out a couple cups to make sure it doesn't burst when it freezes. Then just leave it in the fridge for a day to thaw before you need it.

The milk is translucent/yellow when it is frozen but after it is thawed I can't detect a difference in it.

I haven't tried using it for cheese making- I wonder if it would help or hinder the curd.

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We always freeze milk and have never had a problem. We just freeze it in the plastic bottle it came in (the kind you get from supermarkets in the UK). I've not tried freezing glass bottles or plastic cartons.

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In the old days of the paper cartons for half gallons of milk (before they put the little plastic screw-on top on 'em), my mom would do it all the time ... I seem to recall almost a whole shelf of our stand-up freezer being dedicated to milk storage. She'd just put it in the freezer, in the carton ... but I can't remember how she thawed it ... likely overnight in the fridge, as I don't remember seeing it.

We typically got 2% milk ... I have no idea if that makes a difference or not.

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I buy 3-6 gallons of milk and freeze them. I usually get half whole and half 2%; the whole milk seems to separate a bit, but one or two firm shakes after it's defrosted seems to do the trick. The milk does acquire a strange transparent yellow color, but upon defrosting is just fine. I've never had to pour any milk out to make room for expansion, as long as the jug itself is not damaged. Paper cartons work just as well for freezing; I've never had one burst.

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I buy a gallon of milk (2%) at a time. Less shopping to do. Living alone, I can't use it all up at one time. For years I have been filling cleaned snapple size bottles about 80% full and standing them up to freeze on my freezer door. About 24-36 hours before I need milk, I take out a bottle and put it in the fridge. I've never had a broken bottle.

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