Milk is one of the most popular household beverages, and it’s hard to imagine a home without a gallon or two in the refrigerator. However, this traditional drink has a pretty quick expiration date and needs the right storage methods to keep it fresh. We’ll show you how to store milk, whether it’s fresh, dried, or canned animal milk or expressed breast milk.
The first thing to come to mind when thinking about milk storage is a gallon of milk from the grocery store. However, there are many different types of milk, from powdered and canned to breast milk and milk alternatives.
Store milk also comes in a variety of milk containers, including plastic jugs, plastic bags, glass bottles, cardboard boxes, and metal cans.
With such a vast array of milk types and the different kinds of packaging, it’s often confusing how to store milk for the longest and safest shelf life. Some products are safe to store at room temperature, while others require refrigeration.
Ways to Store all Types of Milk
Proper storage is vital for milk, no matter if it’s animal or human milk. How long can milk sit out? It depends on the type. We show you how to keep different milk varieties in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for optimal flavor and safety.
You can also generally follow these guidelines for other types of dairy products, too. How long is coffee creamer good for? Use our suggestions to make your liquid creamer last as long as possible.
Choose Wisely Before Storing Milk from the Grocery Store
The FDA has specific milk storage guidelines when it comes to storing milk. But, choosing the best milk from the grocery store is the first step to ensuring you get a product with the most extended shelf life.
Choosing the Best Milk
While browsing at the store for groceries, grab your gallon of milk last. Fresh milk needs a consistent temperature of 39°F, and pushing it around in your cart during the whole shopping trip raises its temperature.
Check the freshness dates on the cartons and pick ones with the latest date. The back of the cooler shelf often has the newest milk. When trying to decide where to store milk, always put fresh milk into the fridge as soon as you get home from the market.
Best Way to Store Milk from the Grocery Store
While powdered and canned milk are safe to keep in the pantry, the best way to store milk fresh from the store is in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling. However, there is both a right and wrong way to do this.
If you have several cartons of milk, store milk in the fridge in the order you bought them, with the oldest in the front and the newest in the back. Do not open the milk until you’re ready to use it since the milk loses its freshness three days after opening.
Keep your milk on the shelves rather than in the refrigerator door. The shelving area has a cooler and more stable temperature, and consider placing it in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest.
Always keep the lid securely in place on your milk jugs to prevent them from absorbing odors. Do not pour unused milk back into the jug to avoid cross-contamination and harmful bacterial growth.
How to Store Milk in the Freezer
If you have more milk than is easy to consume before it expires, the freezer is a great place to store fresh milk, as well as freezing gallons of raw milk. Freezing milk is not only easy, but it extends the shelf life.
To freeze milk, it has to be in a proper container. If you purchase your milk in a paper carton, pour it into a clean and empty plastic jug, leaving about an inch of headspace.
If the milk is already in a jug, empty a small amount of the liquid into a glass. Milk expands as it freezes, so this step is essential. Place the jug in the freezer and use it within three months.
To freeze milk cubes, pour milk into ice cube trays and freeze them until solid. Transfer the frozen dairy cubes into freezer bags and return them to the freezer. Use frozen cubes in smoothies, coffee, and your favorite recipes.
To thaw the milk, keep it in the fridge overnight or let it sit under cold running water. Avoid defrosting the milk in warm water since this increases the chance of bacteria.
Storing Other Types of Milk
There are other types of milk than the fresh variety from the fridge. There are dehydrated milk, evaporated milk, and condensed milk, and storing milk in these forms does not require refrigeration.
Keep canned milk such as condensed and evaporated milk in the pantry, pour opened milk into an airtight container, and refrigerate it.
Place boxes of powdered milk in a cool, dark area of the kitchen and use them up within a month. Refrigerate in a sealed container for no more than three days after reconstituting the milk.
Ways to Store Breast Milk
Many consider breast milk essential in promoting healthy immune systems in infants. The best way to store milk after expressing it for at home or child care purposes is to store freshly pumped milk in a refrigerator or cooler.
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has a clinical protocol for full-term infants that discusses guidelines for breastfeeding mothers and human milk storage information for home use.
The CDC gives recommendations for storing milk, and these include the countertop, refrigerator, and freezer.
It’s vital to store milk immediately after using the breast pump. Pour the milk in storage bags or clean bottles and keep them in the fridge’s coldest area, near the back, and use within four days.
Avoid storing them in the fridge door, and do not store breast milk in bottles made of BPA plastic. To freeze the milk, fill the bags or freezer-safe plastic containers three-quarters full to allow for expansion, and set them in the freezer for six to twelve months.
To thaw frozen breast milk, place it in the fridge for about twelve hours. Avoid using the microwave to thaw it since this destroys nutrients and creates hot spots in the liquid.
Do not refreeze milk after thawing, and gently swirl the liquid before feeding your little one. To store milk for on-the-go purposes, place the bottles in a diaper bag or cooler bag with ice packs to maintain an even cold temperature, and use them within 24 hours.
It’s essential to follow food safety storage guidelines, especially when it comes to milk. What we consider a safe method for one type of milk is not necessarily good for another, and storing it the wrong way leads to spoilage.
Using the right storage containers and process ensures that your milk stays fresh as long as possible.
It’s important to know how to store milk properly for taste and safety, so why not share our milk storage tips and methods with your family and friends on Facebook and Pinterest?