Before it hits the expiration date, get that milk on ice.
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Growing up in a family of seven, a container of milk never lasted long enough in our refrigerator to reach the expiration date. Along with being used in the pound cakes and banana puddings my mom baked, milk was stirred into gravies for country fried steak and fried chicken, poured into bowls of breakfast cereal, and consumed by the glassfuls by thirsty kids running in from playing outside. My mother knew the value and convenience of freezing certain foods. Long before wholesale clubs such as Sam's and Costco, she made monthly grocery runs to the nearest military commissary, buying and then freezing bulk quantities of staples such as bread, meat, and milk – lots and lots of milk.  Milk is just too expensive to waste, so put your freezer to good use and avoid pouring money down the drain. Here are some helpful things you should know before popping a gallon of milk in the freezer.

How to Freeze Milk

Freezing milk is easy – just be sure to do it before the expiration date. Milk will expand when frozen and, if there isn't enough headspace, may cause the container to split. If you have leftover milk in a carton, pour it into a plastic freezer-safe container with a lid and freeze. If you find you have an entire gallon to freeze, it is best to divide it into two to three smaller containers. You can also pour milk into ice cube trays. The standard tray usually holds one ounce, or two tablespoons, in each well, so when you are making a recipe that calls for a small amount of milk, a milk cube may do the trick. You can safely store frozen milk in your freezer for up to 6 months, but it's best if you can use it within 1 month of freezing.

How to Thaw Frozen Milk

As when thawing any frozen food, do not thaw milk at room temperature. Instead, place the container of frozen milk on a plate (to collect any condensation when thawing) and put it in the refrigerator to thaw. If you are thawing frozen milk cubes, set them in a container with a lid (such as a mason jar) and let them defrost in the refrigerator, then shake well to blend. Depending on the size of the container, it may take a day or longer to defrost. Milk, like other dairy products, may separate and develop a grainy texture when frozen, however, this does not alter the quality of the milk. To restore some smoothness, simply shake vigorously before using.

How to Use Thawed Milk

Frozen and defrosted milk is safe to drink and can be used for cooking and baking. Thawed milk, both dairy and plant-based, may look separated or have a grainy texture. This is because the fat separates during freezing; the higher the fat content, the more you're likely to notice this. Because of the lower fat content, low-fat and skim milk tend to freeze a little better than whole milk. Thawed milk may also have a slushy texture. To restore smoothness after thawing, simply shake or run the milk through a blender to help smooth it out.