Almond milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative. With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, it can be used in many ways as a substitute for cow’s milk. However, there are some important things to consider regarding storing and freezing almond milk.
What happens when you freeze almond milk?
When almond milk is frozen, the fat molecules and proteins can separate and clump together. This results in an undesirable curdled texture when thawed. The milk may also take on a watery consistency and the overall taste can become unpleasant.
Freezing causes the small natural fat particles in almond milk to cluster together and form larger globules. These large clusters of fat do not break down easily when the milk is thawed, leading to a grainy, curdled texture.
The proteins in almond milk also undergo changes when frozen. They denature and unravel from their natural state, which leads to an undesirable chalkiness when thawed.
Lastly, freezing almond milk can often lead to a watery, thin consistency after thawing. The frozen state damages the natural emulsifiers that help keep the almond milk smooth and evenly mixed.
Can you still drink almond milk after freezing it?
In most cases, it is not recommended to drink store-bought or homemade almond milk after freezing. The texture and taste will likely be noticeably compromised.
Drinking frozen and thawed almond milk is not dangerous or unhealthy, but it will have an altered flavor and mouthfeel compared to fresh almond milk. The grainy, curdled, watery texture can be unappetizing to many people.
If you do wish to try drinking previously frozen almond milk, make sure to shake or stir it vigorously after thawing to help reincorporate the separated fats and solids. However, it will likely still taste unpleasant.
Tips for properly freezing almond milk
If you do need to freeze almond milk, here are some tips to help maintain as much texture and flavor as possible:
- Leave plenty of headspace in the container as almond milk will expand during freezing.
- Store in air-tight containers like mason jars or freezer bags.
- Freeze in smaller portions to avoid having to re-freeze after thawing.
- Add a bit of stabilizer like cornstarch or guar gum before freezing.
- Stir or shake vigorously after thawing to re-emulsify.
However, even with these tips, freezing will still degrade the overall quality and taste. Thawed frozen almond milk is best used for cooking or baking where the altered texture is not as noticeable.
Why you shouldn’t freeze almond milk
Here is a summary of why it’s not recommended to freeze almond milk:
Texture changes – Freezing causes fats and proteins to cluster, leading to an undesirable grainy or curdled texture when thawed.
Consistency changes – The frozen milk often takes on a thin, watery consistency after thawing rather than its natural thickness.
Flavor changes – The taste can become unpleasant, with some natural sweetness being lost.
Nutritional changes – Some degradation of certain vitamins like Vitamin E and Vitamin A can occur with freezing.
Difficult to re-emulsify – Natural emulsifiers are damaged, making it hard to re-incorporate the separated fats evenly when thawed.
Repeated freezing causes more damage – Each freeze/thaw cycle compounds all the above issues.
How long does almond milk last when frozen?
When stored continuously frozen, almond milk will technically last for 6-12 months before going bad. However, the freezing process itself starts degrading the quality immediately.
Here is a table showing approximate timeframes for best quality when freezing almond milk:
|Freezer Storage Time||Quality|
As shown, frozen almond milk will remain safe to drink for up to 6-12 months if kept frozen. But the deterioration of texture and flavor will progress over time.
Does freezing prolong the shelf life of almond milk?
Freezing does extend the shelf life of almond milk compared to refrigerated storage. However, it comes at a cost to quality.
Refrigerated almond milk will last for up to 10-14 days past the printed best by date before going bad. But freezing can prolong the shelf life to 6-12 months.
Despite the longer shelf life, freezing still causes noticeable damage to the taste, texture, and nutritional value. So extending the shelf life via freezing may not always be ideal.
Signs your frozen almond milk has gone bad
Here are some signs that frozen almond milk has spoiled and needs to be discarded:
- Off smells like sourness or rancidity upon opening
- Change in color – Significant darkening or unnatural hues
- Lumpy texture with large ice crystals throughout
- Completely separated layers of fat, liquid, and solids
- Mold growth in the bottle or bag
Trust your senses – if thawed frozen almond milk smells or tastes unpleasant in any way, it is best to throw it out and not consume it.
Uses for frozen almond milk
While not ideal for drinking, frozen and thawed almond milk can still be suitable for use in some recipes:
- Smoothies – The altered texture gets blended up
- Baked goods – The milk gets incorporated evenly into the batter
- Soups or sauces – The graininess gets cooked out
- Overnight oats – The thickness is not as noticeable
- Ice cream or popsicles – Blends well into a frozen dessert
The key is using frozen almond milk in recipes where the changed consistency and mouthfeel will be masked. Avoid using it in recipes where the liquid milk itself is highlighted.
Can you freeze homemade almond milk?
Homemade almond milk can also be frozen, but it will undergo the same detrimental texture and flavor changes. It may become even more watery and separated when thawed.
To help minimize the damage, add a teaspoon of cornstarch, tapioca starch, or guar gum to each cup of homemade almond milk before freezing. This will help stabilize the proteins and emulsifiers.
Keep in mind that freezing homemade almond milk that has not been pasteurized also comes with some health risks. The bacteria levels can increase to potentially unsafe levels over the frozen storage duration.
Freezing almond milk is possible but not ideal. The freezing process damages the proteins, fats, and emulsifiers – leading to an altered texture and taste.
While thawed frozen almond milk won’t make you sick, the grainy and watery consistency along with dulled flavor make it unappealing to drink.
Your best option is to buy almond milk in small quantities that can be used up quickly. But if you do freeze it, try to use frozen thawed almond milk in cooked foods or baked goods where the changes are less noticeable.