Lactose-free cow’s milk is a life-saver for people who have lactose-intolerance but still enjoy drinking cow’s milk or using it in baking or cooking. However, as all kinds of milk, lactose-free milk doesn’t last long once opened.
Can you freeze lactose-free milk? Yes, you can freeze lactose-free milk and it is a great way to extend its shelf-life. You can freeze the milk in an airtight container and keep it in the cold store for 4 months or longer. Once thawed, the milk will have a slightly grainy texture while remaining safe for consumption.
Continue reading for a comprehensive guide for freezing and defrosting lactose-free milk as well as additional tips to make the process easier and more effective.
Lactose-Free Milk Vs Regular Milk
Cow’s milk contains lactose, a naturally occurring sugar. As many people experience lactose intolerance, milk manufacturers have found a solution.
Lactose-free milk is produced and widely used as a safe alternative for consumers that want to incorporate cow’s milk in their diet without experiencing any discomfort.
Lactose-free milk is milk without lactose. But the confusing part is that lactose is not actually removed from the milk. Instead, lactase is added to the milk to break it down.
Lactase is an enzyme that is needed to digest milk well. Thus, with the addition of this enzyme, people with lactose intolerance are able to consume it the same way as regular milk.
Lactose-free milk is a 1:1 substitute for regular milk. They can be used interchangeably in any recipe and don’t differ much as far as the taste, texture, and overall feel are concerned.
Can You Freeze Lactose-Free Milk?
You can freeze lactose-free milk just as you do regular milk or plant-based milk. The milk will stay safe for consumption and suffer very little nutritional changes.
The texture, however, will change.
Defrosted lactose-free milk will not be as smooth as before freezing. It will be somewhat grainy and separated but still perfectly safe to use.
Which Lactose-Free Milk Is Best for Freezing?
Skim and low-fat lactose-free milk will freeze the best. The reason milk separates after being defrosted is that the fat that was once evenly distributed through the milk separates forming clumps.
Using lactose-free cow’s milk that is lower in fat will result in less grainy milk once you thaw it.
How to Freeze Lactose-Free Milk
Before freezing the milk, first, check if it is still good.
If the milk has been stored in proper conditions, it will be good to use it for around one week past the expiration date stated on the packaging. The good thing about lactose-free milk is that it lasts longer than regular milk.
There are a few easy ways to check if the milk is still good to be frozen:
- First, give it a good old sniff test. Milk that is still good to use doesn’t smell like much. But if it has a sour off-putting smell, that’s when you know the milk is spoiled.
- Another key indicator that the milk has gone bad is the texture. While it is normal for frozen and defrosted milk to have a grainy texture, milk that has been stored in the fridge should be smooth.
- Last but not least, look at the color. If the color of the milk leans to yellow, it has probably gone bad and you should not attempt to extend its shelf life by freezing. A slightly yellow color, however, is normal in the case of defrosted milk.
Once you know the milk is good to be stored in the freezer, here is what you should do to freeze lactose-free milk:
- Pour the lactose-free milk into an airtight container. You can also freeze the milk in the plastic gallon it comes in.
- Make sure to leave some room between the lid and the milk as the latter expands once frozen.
- Label the container. Label the milk with the date when you put it in the freezer. In addition to this, write how many days were left for the milk to expire. This will come in handy once you thaw the milk.
How Long Can You Keep Lactose-Free Milk in the Freezer?
Lactose-free milk should be stored in the fridge at all times.
Unopened lactose-free milk will be good for several days after its sell-by date if you keep it well refrigerated. However, make sure to inspect it carefully once you decide to use it.
The shelf-life of lactose-free cow’s milk will be significantly extended once you freeze it.
Lactose-free milk will stay safe in the freezer for up to 4 months. It will remain safe for consumption for much longer if the temperature of your freezer is 0° F.
How to Defrost Lactose-Free Milk
A rule to remember when thawing lactose-free milk, or any kind of dairy-based milk, is that you should never apply heat to it to defrost it quickly. Defrosting frozen milk at room temperature is also not recommended.
There are two methods to defrost lactose-free milk:
- Let it thaw in the fridge. It may take the milk many hours to completely thaw in the fridge. However, it is the best way to defrost the milk. The fridge temperature that is higher than that of the freezer will cause the milk to gradually thaw.
- Defrost using cold water. If you need the milk to be defrosted as soon as possible, submerge the container or gallon with frozen milk into cold water.
Shake well before using to restore the texture of the milk as much as possible. Using a blender, food processor, or hand mixer will work well.
How to Use Defrosted Lactose-Free Milk
Defrosted lactose-free milk should be used within as many days as it was left for the milk to expire before being frozen. This is why we recommend you label the container with a note like ‘5 days to expire’.
If you froze the milk 5 days before its expiration date, use it within 5 days once it is thawed.
As milk undergoes texture changes once defrosted, you may not find it pleasant for drinking or using for your morning cereal. Instead, defrosted milk is good to use in cooking and baking, where the texture of the milk is not of central importance.
Tips for Freezing and Defrosting Lactose-Free Milk
Freezing milk may be intimidating if you have never done it before. But it is a great way of extending the life of the product and using it later instead of letting it go to waste.
Here are some tips that will help you effectively freeze and defrost lactose-free milk.
Tip #1: Freeze the milk as quickly as possible
While texture changes are inevitable when you are freezing milk, no matter it is lactose-free or not, there is a way to bring them to the minimum.
The faster the milk freezes the less will the texture change. Thus, if your freezer has the ‘fast freeze’ button, use it!
Tip #2: Be careful when freezing plastic gallon jugs of milk
If your favorite lactose-free milk was on sale and you stocked up on buying multiple galloons, you may be tempted to put the gallons of milk in the freezer as is, avoiding spending additional time and effort.
While doing so is easy, it is not the right way of freezing milk. Plastic gallons are quite suitable for the milk to be frozen in. However, they are almost full when unopened. Thus, when the milk freezes and expands, the plastic gallon will most likely leak.
To avoid any mess in your freezer, remove half a cup of the milk from the gallon and only then store it in the freezer.
You can wrap a cling wrap around the cap to make sure the milk doesn’t leak.
Tip #3: Add heavy cream to defrosted milk
To make the defrosted milk smooth again, you can add some heavy cream to it and blend it. Adding cream will restore the texture of the milk to a certain extent.
Add 2 tablespoons of cream to 4 cups of defrosted milk and blend using a hand mixer or food processor.
Can You Freeze Lactose-Free Milk in Cartons?
Freezing milk in paper cartons is not recommended.
Transfer the milk into a plastic gallon or airtight container. Glass containers, even if they are claimed to be freezer-friendly, are not a good choice.
The milk expands and the chances of the glass jar breaking are higher than in the case of plastic containers.
Can You Freeze Non-Dairy Lactose-Free Milk?
Some people not only have lactose intolerance but are also allergic to cow’s milk protein. The latter is a widespread allergy which makes the body react to the protein in milk differently, causing hives, itching, swelling, etc.
In such cases, consuming non-dairy milk is the way to go. And fortunately, there is a wide variety of options, including soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk, etc.
You can freeze non-dairy lactose-free milk. However, the consistency will be altered once you defrost it.
Thus, it is best to freeze this type of milk when you intend to use it in cooking and baking rather than drinking.
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