Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative for those who are lactose intolerant, following a vegan diet, or simply prefer the taste. With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, almond milk can be used in various recipes, added to coffee and cereal, or enjoyed on its own as a beverage. Some people also like to have a stash of almond milk in the freezer for longer term storage and to keep it chilled. But what happens when you freeze almond milk, and is it still safe to drink after thawing? Let’s take a closer look at the effects of freezing on almond milk and whether it’s okay to consume it after freezing.
What Happens When You Freeze Almond Milk?
Freezing almond milk causes some changes to its texture and consistency. Here’s an overview of the key effects:
- Separation – The fats and solids in almond milk can start to separate from the liquid during freezing. This results in a grainy or watery texture when thawed.
- Changes in consistency – Freezing makes almond milk thicker and more gel-like. It will be much more viscous after thawing.
- Freezer burn – Prolonged freezing for many months can lead to freezer burn, giving almond milk an unpleasant taste and dry texture.
- Nutrition – No significant changes in the nutritional profile of almond milk occur with freezing.
The fats and proteins naturally present in almond milk are what causes the textural changes when frozen. The formation of ice crystals during freezing forces the fats to cluster together and separate from the liquid components.
Is Frozen Almond Milk Safe to Drink?
The good news is that frozen and thawed almond milk is still perfectly safe to consume. Freezing is an appropriate storage method for almond milk, and does not make it spoiled or hazardous to drink after defrosting.
However, the taste and texture quality may degrade over time in the freezer. Almond milk stored for longer than 2-3 months in the freezer may develop an unpleasant flavor and very thick, grainy mouthfeel.
So as long as it has not been kept frozen for too long, drinking thawed almond milk should not cause any health or safety issues. But it may not taste as fresh and creamy as you would like.
How to Freeze Almond Milk
To freeze almond milk properly so it retains optimal quality, follow these tips:
- Check the expiration date and only freeze almond milk that is still within the best-by timeframe. Freezing does not extend the shelf life.
- Make sure the milk is well shaken or stirred before freezing to evenly distribute the solids.
- Pour the almond milk into an airtight freezer bag or container, leaving about 1⁄2 inch of headspace to allow for expansion as it freezes.
- Lay the bag or container flat in the freezer so the milk freezes in an even layer. This prevents iciness and textural changes.
- Try to use frozen almond milk within 2-3 months for best quality and taste.
Proper freezing techniques help minimize separation and maintain the creamy, smooth texture of almond milk after thawing.
How to Thaw Frozen Almond Milk
Thawing is the final crucial step to end up with almond milk that is as close as possible to its original state. Here are some tips for thawing:
- Refrigerator thawing – For a slower but effective thaw, leave frozen almond milk to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. This helps prevent curdling or over-separating.
- Cold water bath – Place the frozen milk in a bowl of cold tap water, changing the water every 15 minutes until thawed. This thaws almond milk more quickly without letting it warm up too much.
- Countertop – Leaving frozen almond milk to thaw on the kitchen counter is not recommended. It can become warm and cause excessive separation.
- Microwave – Defrosting almond milk in the microwave can lead to hot spots and a grainy, curdled texture. It’s better to use one of the cold methods.
- Shake or stir – Once thawed, shake or stir the almond milk vigorously to reincorporate any separated fats or solids.
Proper thawing and mixing helps frozen almond milk regain a smooth, creamy state that is ready to enjoy again.
How to Use Thawed Almond Milk
Once properly thawed, almond milk can be used in any way you would normally use fresh almond milk. Here are some ideas:
- Add it to smoothies, protein shakes, chia puddings, oatmeal, and yogurt
- Use it in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and other heated drinks
- Include it in recipes like pancakes, waffles, French toast, and baked goods
- Pour it over cereal or granola
- Drink it plain or flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa powder, etc.
The slight changes in texture and mouthfeel from freezing will be minimized when almond milk is incorporated into recipes or other foods and beverages.
Signs That Thawed Almond Milk Has Gone Bad
While generally safe to consume when properly frozen and thawed, there are a few signs that indicate spoiled, thawed almond milk:
- Sour, curdled texture that does not improve after shaking/stirring
- Mold growth visible in the bottle
- Unusual bubbling or carbonation
- Off smells like sourness or rottenness
- Change in color to yellow, brown, or gray
If thawed almond milk exhibits any of these characteristics, it should be discarded right away.
Can Almond Milk Be Refrozen After Thawing?
Refreezing almond milk is not recommended for food safety and quality reasons. When almond milk thaws, bacteria can start growing again. Refreezing does not get rid of this bacterial growth. The texture is also likely to become even more compromised with a second freeze-thaw cycle. For best results, thawed almond milk should be consumed within about one week when kept refrigerated. It’s best to just thaw out the portion of frozen almond milk that you need and use it fresh.
Storage Tips for Fresh vs Frozen Almond Milk
To recap, here are some guidelines on handling and storing fresh versus previously frozen almond milk:
|State||Refrigerator Storage||Freezer Storage|
|Fresh (unopened)||7-10 days past best-by date||Up to 6 months in airtight container|
|Fresh (opened)||7-10 days||Up to 2 months in airtight container|
|Thawed after freezing||About 1 week||Do not refreeze|
Following proper storage guides for both fresh and previously frozen almond milk helps maintain safety and maximize shelf life.
To summarize the key points on drinking almond milk after freezing:
- Freezing almond milk is safe but can alter its texture somewhat.
- Thawed, frozen almond milk may have separated fat/solids but can be shaken or stirred back to a smooth consistency.
- For best quality, consume frozen almond milk within 2-3 months of freezing.
- Slowly thaw frozen milk in the fridge or a cold water bath to prevent curdling.
- Avoid refreezing almond milk after it has been thawed.
- Use thawed almond milk for smoothies, oatmeal, coffee, cereal, and cooking/baking.
- Discard thawed almond milk that smells or looks spoiled.
With proper handling techniques, frozen almond milk can be a convenient and safe alternative to keep on hand. Just be aware of the potential effects of freezing on texture and taste before using thawed almond milk in your favorite recipes and beverages.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about drinking almond milk after freezing:
Does freezing alter the taste of almond milk?
Freezing itself does not significantly change the flavor of almond milk. However, over a prolonged period in the freezer, frozen almond milk may develop off-flavors described as cardboard-like, oxidized, or stale. Optimal taste is retained when frozen almond milk is consumed within 2-3 months.
Can almond milk be frozen more than once?
It is not recommended to freeze-thaw almond milk multiple times. Each freeze-thaw cycle further degrades the quality and compromises the texture. For best results, freeze smaller portions so you can thaw just what you need and avoid having to refreeze after opening.
What happens if you freeze almond milk in its original container?
The original container may crack or warp with freezing. Also, the container will take up more space compared to freezing almond milk in a sealed freezer bag. Make sure to leave headspace if freezing in the original container, as liquids expand during freezing.
Why does almond milk separate when frozen?
The naturally occurring fats in almond milk start to cluster together when frozen, while the water separates. This causes a grainy, watery texture after thawing. Proper technique when freezing and thawing minimizes separation. But some degree of separation is normal with frozen almond milk.
Can you make almond milk from frozen almonds?
Yes, you can absolutely make fresh almond milk starting with frozen almonds. Simply thaw the frozen almonds completely, then proceed with making homemade almond milk through soaking, blending, and straining. The resulting almond milk will taste freshly made.
The Bottom Line
Freezing is an effective way to store almond milk beyond its normal shelf life. While the process can affect texture and cause some separation, frozen almond milk remains safe to drink. Following best practices for freezing, thawing, and properly handling thawed almond milk will help retain optimal quality and flavor. By understanding the changes that occur and utilizing proper techniques, you can safely enjoy the convenience of frozen almond milk.