There are many foods that we can freeze to extend its conservation and thus take advantage of larger purchases. We are more used to applying it to meats, fish and also vegetables and fruits, but there are other products that we may not consider keeping in the freezer so much, such as dairy products.
Basic in most homes, dairy such as milk, cheeses, or yogurts They are almost always present in the shopping baskets and it is not uncommon for them to star in special offers. But if the expiration date is near or we have stockpiled more, we can also resort to the freezer to prevent them from spoiling and have reserves in the medium term.
The freezer is not magic nor does it work miracles, we must always keep that in mind, much less domestic models. It does not completely paralyze the process of food degradation, it only slows it down; the frozen ones also spoil and they don’t have an eternal life.
That is why it is also important to plan what we want to freeze, and don’t wait until the last minute to introduce foods that are about to go bad. Although most dairy products do not have an expiration date as such, but rather for preferential consumption -such as yoghurts, dairy desserts or butter-, we will obtain better results by freezing products as fresh as possible.
If we freeze a dairy that has already passed the preferred consumption date, it is advisable not to extend the freezing for more than three months, and to consume it quickly once it has thawed, preferably in the next 24 hours. Freezing does not reset the conservation counter.
Before seeing in detail the particularities of each type of dairy, it is convenient to review the general recommendations to take into account when freezing and disconnecting food:
- Keep the freezer in good condition, checking that it reaches the correct temperature, clean and without ice or frost.
- Divide into appropriate portions, depending on the product, to defrost and use only what is needed at any given time.
- Use suitable, clean, hermetically sealed containers, preferably flat and narrow.
- In liquids and semi-liquids, leave a space without filling, as it will increase the volume in the freezing process.
- Mark or label the content, the date and, if applicable, the preferred consumption.
- Maintain good internal order and organization, making food for the nearest consumption more accessible.
- Try to freeze food in good condition and quality.
- Always defrost in the least cold part of the refrigerator.
- Once defrosted, try to consume in the shortest possible time.
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UHT milk and fresh milk
The most common milk consumed today is called UHT, which undergoes a process of ultra-pasteurization that allows it to be kept for several months at room temperature. It can be whole, skimmed, semi-skimmed, lactose-free, flavored or enriched.
This milk does have to be kept cold once opened, normally recommending its consumption in three or four days. It can actually hold up well for up to a week; the smell and taste it will clearly indicate to us if it has been damaged. We will rarely have to freeze it, but we can do it while it is still in good condition, in an airtight container and leaving room for the increase in volume.
The fresh milk that is marketed in our country is also pasteurized – consuming raw milk is dangerous – but it has a much shorter shelf life. It is sold refrigerated and should always be kept in the fridge, even before being opened. This variety is more susceptible to spoiling if it is not consumed at the right time.
Therefore, as consumers, it can be much more useful to freeze fresh milk, perhaps dividing the contents of large bottles into servings for individual consumption. Once thawed it is advisable to shake it well and take it within 24 hours following.
Liquid cream and whipped cream
Liquid cream, regardless of its fat percentage, can be frozen in the same way as milk. We could put the tetrabricks directly into the freezer, but it is more advisable to deposit the content in other containers to ensure that leave empty space and prevent them from exploding.
However, cream with the highest fat content will probably appear cut when thawed, due to the separation of the liquid from the fat molecules. There will be whisk or emulsify well before using it, bearing in mind that we may not be able to mount it, but it will still be valid for other preparations.
The whipped cream It can also be frozen, quickly before it begins to lose volume, and in suitable containers where it will not crush. When it thaws, it will not be as firm, and we will not be able to reassemble it either. A commercial whipped cream – the typical spray ones – may not respond well to freezing.
Buttermilk, crème fraîche and others
These dairy variants of cream and milk can also be frozen without problems, taking into account the same particularities as the previous ones. We will need to beat or stir the product once thawed to return it to its original texture, although it will never be as homogeneous than with fresh produce.
Again, it is important to limit the empty air space in the containers, but leaving that small gap that allows the container to expand, especially with the buttermilk -also the homemade one-, more liquid.
Yogurts and fermented milks
Yogurt is a fantastic homemade “ice cream” that any child can make by simply inserting a teaspoon directly into the lid to freeze as is. But if what we want is to extend conservation, we will take into account the same premises already mentioned, considering that will lose its creamy texture homogeneous.
Thicker yogurts don’t need as much empty space and will defrost much better, as they contain less water. Of course, most supermarket yogurts are really “fermented milks”, made with mixtures of skimmed milk, powdered milk and, often, gelatin. These products are likely to lose even more texture when defrosted; we will have to beat them well.
The best results will be achieved with a authentic yogurt, made with whole milk and the corresponding dairy ferments, without skimming. We can always drain the serum or water for a few hours on a clean cloth or cloth before freezing them.
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In any case, let’s remember that a yogurt actually has no expiration As such, the date indicated by the manufacturer is a preferred consumption recommendation that can be extended even weeks, provided it is kept properly refrigerated.
This fermented food is another probiotic with a higher content of live bacteria beneficial than yogurt, and also somewhat more delicate.
The kefir granules They can be frozen by allowing them to dry beforehand at room temperature in a container on kitchen paper. It is also possible to freeze them in milk or water, depending on the type. We can apply the same guidelines to drinks and kefir products already made as to cream or yogurt.
The spreadable cheeses, the so-called Philadelphia type, freezing is not recommended because they lose much of their creamy texture in the thawing process.
Since that smooth creaminess is the key to its quality, it is not much worth risking spoiling it. unless we can take advantage of it in pastry doughs or certain sauces and smoothies where the texture is not so important. In any case, it is advisable to consult the indications of each manufacturer.
To make a sweet topping cream, type the buttercream cheese frosting typical of carrot cake, yes we could fix the texture by beating the cheese with butter and icing sugar.
This wide category includes from the creamiest, quark type, to some firmer ones such as Burgos, mozzarella, cottage cheese, feta or goat cheese. In theory they can all be frozen, but the loss of quality can be very variable and most are spoiled. They are delicate products with a short life.
The more homogeneous their texture and the more fat they have, the better they will respond. That is why the most granular cheeses do not usually defrost in good conditions (cottage cheese, feta, cottage) and would be more suitable to incorporate into recipes and do not consume as is to the natural.
The most solid and firm should dry them very well with kitchen paper and wrap them in plastic wrap before placing them in an airtight container. However, it is best to use them to cook or incorporate into recipes, and not to serve directly. For example, we could use frozen mozzarella to gratin a pizza or enrich a sauce or pasta filling, not for a caprese salad.
Specialty and soft cheeses
The varieties of soft, blue and mushroom cheeses, such as brie or camembert, it is not advisable to freeze them unless there is no other option and it is the only alternative to wasting them. They are very delicate products that will lose texture, aroma and flavor when subjected to domestic freezing.
They will continue to be edible, so it can be a good resource if we want to use them for specific recipes, such as sauces or fillings mixtures, or a soup. It is necessary to try to avoid the maximum of humidity and to wrap them very, very well, limiting the contact with the air. And it’s always a good idea to divide them into separate small portions.
Hard and semi-hard cheeses
Cured, semi-cured and also tender firmer and harder they are better candidates for freezing, those that are usually marketed in blocks or wedges. In spite of everything, again, it must be taken into account that they will lose organoleptic qualities, especially the most artisan or of higher quality.
Firmness makes the process easier, but the higher the fat content, the more separation can occur when defrosting. The fattiest could become even more grainy, while the tender ones will retain their elasticity better.
It is best to freeze them in portions …