Many of us remember growing up as kids and hearing our parents tell us to drink our milk so we could grow big and strong. Our parents weren’t wrong, and this statement has led many people to wonder if it’s possible to learn how to preserve milk.
Preserving milk sounds a little unorthodox, but there are so many health benefits to milk, so why wouldn’t we want to preserve fresh milk before it goes bad? We preserve fruits, veggies, meat, and eggs, so why not try and hold on to our milk through those same processes?
Dairy products probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of preservation, but just because it isn’t standard doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. Homesteaders have recently made preserving milk more popular.
The grocery store usually forces us to buy a minimum of a half-gallon of milk. This amount is sometimes far too much for a single person to go through. Instead of throwing your money out the door, there are other ways to preserve fresh milk for later use.
What’s So Great about Milk?
The USDA reports that milk is produced in all 50 states, and the nutritional value of milk is surprisingly impressive.
One cup of store-milk contains over 8 grams of protein and fat, as well as high levels of calcium, vitamin D, potassium phosphorus, selenium, and B12.
Some of these vitamins and minerals lack in most people’s modern diets, and these numbers increase even more when raw milk is consumed.
It’s no secret that milk also benefits bone health because the bones are where 99 percent of the body’s calcium is stored. Recent studies have also shown that those who drink milk are linked to lower obesity.
What’s not to love about milk? It benefits our bodies and is a versatile ingredient when added to soups, smoothies, oatmeal, coffee, desserts, and more.
You even have a variety of different milks to choose from – which is a bonus if you are lactose-intolerant. Coconut, almond, soy, and cashew milk are all popular. Does almond milk go bad? What about soy? All milk can spoil, which is why it’s important to know how to store it correctly.
The best way to tell when coconut milk is gone bad, or any other type of milk, is to smell it, look for clumps, or take a tiny taste. Your senses will let you know right away if milk is spoiled.
Ways to Preserve Fresh Milk
Maybe a handful of people aren’t aware that it’s possible to preserve milk longer than the expiration date posted on milk products. Extending the shelf life isn’t hard to do, and it follows the same preservation methods of most other foods.
The same applies to coffee. How long is coffee good for in the fridge or freezer? You can really extend the shelf life of the beans or grounds with proper preservation techniques.
Can unopened milk sit out on the counter? If it is a type of milk that is shelf stable, yes, it can sit out until its expiration date. Always refrigerate or store in the freezer after opening.
How to Preserve Milk in the Fridge
Although you won’t extend the shelf life by much, there are some small tricks when using refrigeration as a food storage method. When at the store, check the sell-by date of every gallon of milk to ensure you’re purchased the freshest dairy products possible.
Whether you buy skim or whole milk or want to keep coconut milk fresh in the fridge, try to buy organic if possible. Organic milk lasts about one month, while the life of milk that isn’t organic only lasts up to seven days. This time difference is because of a different pasteurization process.
Once you get home, refrigerate the milk as soon as possible and never leave it at room temperature for more than ten minutes.
The coldest part of your fridge is usually in the back on the lowest shelf and is the best location for keeping milk fresh. If you’re unable to use all the milk before it expires, try one of the following ways to preserve fresh milk.
How long do eggs last in the fridge? This popular food can last for a couple of weeks. Don’t put it in the egg storage area on the door, though. Store it in the back with the milk.
Preserving Milk in the Freezer
Just like freezing cream cheese, freezing milk is an excellent choice for those wanting to preserve their milk for about six months. It is safe to do this right before spoilage occurs from the milk in the fridge as well.
Like all liquids, milk expands when it freezes, so don’t put an entire gallon in the freezer without emptying some first.
When freezing raw milk, either store the milk in the original plastic packaging or turn it into frozen milk cubes by pouring the milk into ice cube mold and setting it in the freezer overnight.
Remove the cubes from the trays once frozen and store them in freezer bags. It is safe to freeze milk for up to six months.
The strangest yet best way to preserve milk is by canning it. Canned milk doesn’t have to be refrigerated. The color of the milk changes, but canned milk is excellent for drinking or cooking into other meals and baked goods.
It is also used for cheese-making. The milk tastes slightly sweeter than fresh milk, but it is still perfectly safe for consumption. Stock up on milk ahead of time so you can complete a large batch at one time.
Start by washing your canning jars and rings in hot water and getting them as clean as possible. Rinse the jars with white vinegar to disinfect them and place them upside down on a kitchen towel until dry.
Pour the milk into the canning jars. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and simmer the seals in the water to get them ready for canning. Wipe the rims of the jars and remove all air bubbles from the milk. Add the lids and screw the rings on tightly.
Begin pressure canning the jars until the pressure canner reaches ten pounds of pressure, then turn off the heat and let the canner cool until no steam comes out of the top.
Remove the jars from the canner with a jar lifter and carefully set them on the counter to cool for 24 hours. After 24 hours, check that all the lids sealed properly. Store the canned milk in a cool, dark place for up to two years.
Making Powdered Milk
Another way to preserve milk for an extended period of time is to dehydrate it. Dehydrated milk turns to a powder and keeps well for about two years. Some store-bought powdered milk lasts as long as ten years when unopened.
To make your own powdered milk, set your dehydrator machine to a high temperature of 135°F.
Pour one cup of fresh milk into each tray and dehydrate it for roughly 12 hours until completely dry and flakey. Blend the remaining crumbles and store the powder in a vacuumed sealed jar in a dry place.
How to Condense Milk
Evaporated milk condenses down and is best for adding to pudding or tea, but it can also be reconstituted by adding water. To make condensed milk, pour two cups of fresh milk into a pan with a heavy bottom.
Bring the fresh milk to a simmer and stir it continuously until it reduces by over half. Remove the thin layer that forms at the top of the liquid. Allow the condensed milk to cool before canning it and storing it in a cool, dry place.
Just the thought of preserving milk may not appeal to you right away, but after reading about all the ways to preserve fresh milk, it’s hard to fight the urge to try.
The great thing about learning how to preserve milk is that it is no different from preserving other foods. In fact, it’s even easier in a lot of ways.
If teaching yourself how to preserve milk has led to some tasty creations, share these milk preservation recipes on Facebook and Pinterest.