Sometimes, we find such a fantastic deal on milk, cheese, and other dairy items that we are tempted to stock up for extra savings. Fortunately for us thrifty shoppers, most dairy products can be frozen for future use. And, better yet, even though the milk or dairy item may be approaching it’s expiration date, freezing temporarily stops the countdown. If your bargain milk purchase expires tomorrow, but the carton has been put immediately in the freezer, tomorrow’s expiration date is placed on “hold” and resumes only when the milk is thawed out.
Freezing dairy products is a great way to take advantage of sales, and can save a thrifty shopper money. Here’s how it’s done:
How to freeze milk: To freeze milk, just place the unopened container directly in the freezer. The plastic carton will expand as the milk freezes, so be sure to leave plenty of space around the milk jug. Milk can be frozen up to one month without any change in taste or quality.
Since the printed expiration date will be off once the milk has been thawed, it’s a good idea to make a note on the jug somewhere of the remaining shelf life, such as “use in 7 days”. This way, when the milk is thawed, you’ll know exactly how much of remaining shelf life is left.
Freezing hard cheese: Sometimes, a five pound chub of cheese can be a fantastic deal that’s too good to pass up. But, instead of tossing the whole chub in the freezer, the cheese should first be cut into 1/2 to 1 pound wedges and then repackaged individually in freezer bags. Remember to seal and date the repackaged cheese before tossing it in the freezer. Frozen hard cheese can remain in the freezer between 6-12 months.
Soft cheese: Soft cheeses can be frozen much like the hard cheeses, but do not have as long of a shelf life. Since most of the soft cheeses I use in cooking are shredded anyway, one time saving tip I use is to shred all the soft cheeses at once, and repackage them by the cup in freezer bags. Don’t forget to label and date before tossing that shredded cheese in the freezer. Soft cheeses should be used within 4 months of freezing.
Cottage cheese and yogurts can be left in the original container and frozen for up to one month.
Butter and margarine: These also freeze well, but do tend to pick up odd odors in the freezer. To minimize odor, it’s best to remove the sticks of butter or margarine from the box, and repackage them in freezer bags. Butter and margarine can be frozen for up to 6 months.
So what dairy products can’t be frozen? The biggest problem with freezing dairy products is that things made of cream tend to separate during thawing. Half and half, buttermilk, eggnogs, and whip creams just don’t have quite the same texture once they’ve been frozen. The one exception is heavy creams that contain 40% or higher butterfat. To successfully freeze this product, cream must first be cooked at 180 degrees for 15 minutes, and then treated with 3 tablespoons of sugar per pint of cream. The cooled mixture can then be transferred into can-or-freeze jars, sealed, and frozen. Heavy cream should be used within a month of freezing.