Milk is something that everyone all around the world is at least aware of. Most people, aside from those who have intolerances and allergies, will make use of milk on a daily basis.
Milk can be a wonderful drink on its own and it is commonly used in recipes all throughout various cultures. With that in mind, there are also countless other milk alternatives.
Some milk alternatives are designed for people who cannot tolerate lactose, a specific sugar that is found in exclusively cow’s milk. Lactose intolerance is common among the general population and stems from an inborn lack of enzymes to digest lactose, meaning that your digestive bacteria have a hard time processing it, which leads to a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.
Other milk alternatives are designed for people who have an allergy to milk. An allergy is different than an intolerance.
Rather than someone’s digestive system not processing lactose properly but still passing it through, an allergy involves a systemic immune reaction as your body overreacts to the presence of dairy. Allergies carry the danger of becoming anaphylactic shock, which is lethal, making it important to stay away from dairy milks.
Without dairy milks, whether for health reasons or dietary, you may not know what to turn to or which type of milk to choose. There are almond milks, soy milks, oat milks, coconut milks, rice milks, and the list goes on, with around 10 accepted milk alternatives out there.
Naturally, some of these alternatives are going to be better than others at replicating the taste of milk.
The Basics of Oat Milk
Oat milk is highly regarded as a good replacement for dairy milk in your life. It is a non-dairy milk, making it safe to consume by anyone who may have a dairy allergy or an intolerance to lactose, or someone who simply doesn’t want the sheer amount of saturated fat that comes with cow’s milk.
Many people who have oat milk as a part of their regular diet will mention how much healthier oat milk is than the standard milk you can get at the store. It doesn’t compare to cow or soy milk in terms of protein but it has more protein than other plant-based milks.
It has more fiber, as it is made from oats, and it has a fair number of vitamins and minerals in it to boost your own body. Oat milk does have carbs in it but it is generally regarded as acceptable as the energy you get from the milk derives from carbs and fiber, not fat.
Oat milk, as the name might suggest, is made from oats. There are a variety of oats that you can use to make your own oat milk but most commercial oat milk is going to use steel-cut oats that are not of any particular variety.
The oats are soaked in water, blended, and then strained with a specific cloth to get the milk out of and to separate the oat pulp from the rest of the liquid. This process leaves the liquid, which is then referred to as milk, with much of the nutrients that oats have while also having a creamier texture than most other nut milks due to the nature of oats.
With this in mind, you now have a good idea of what oat milk is, who can benefit from drinking it compared to the standard milk you would get, and how the oat milk is obtained. Once you begin purchasing the milk, you may begin to realize that you aren’t too sure how to store the milk.
Despite not having that same danger of fermentation as cow milk does, oat milk doesn’t last that long in the fridge. Your typical store-bought oat milk will last 10 days at most once it has been opened, assuming that you are keeping it inside the fridge at all times.
There will usually be a “best by” date on the container of milk to indicate when you should consider opening the milk by.
Homemade oat milk lasts even less time, lasting no more than five days as it does not have preservatives in it as store-bought milks tend to do. You will want to label any homemade oat milk you have so you know when you need to use it up by.
Considering that oat milk really doesn’t last that long, you may not know what to do if this is your primary source of milk for the day. In many ways, the best thing that you can do in this situation is going to be to freeze the milk.
Freezing oat milk is a little bit different than freezing other types of milks, though, as you will soon learn.
What Is There to Know About Freezing Oat Milk?
Before you go putting your oat milk in the freezer, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, freezing oat milk will permanently change the texture of the milk so you should only freeze it when you know for a fact that you won’t be able to use all of it before it goes bad.
Typically, the change in texture is going to be slight but noticeable, changing the consistency of oat milk from somewhat creamy to somewhat grainy.
Secondly, you should not refreeze oat milk. Oat milk should be frozen once, made use of, and then if it is still going bad and you have no more uses for it, you should discard it as it will not really survive another refreezing.
The milk will still be safe to drink but it will be a matter of whether or not you want to consume something that will have the texture of twice-frozen oat milk.
And finally, when freezing oat milk in a container aside from the one that it came in, you will want to leave at least one inch of space at the top of the container as oat milk is notorious for expanding a little bit when it freezes.
All liquid expands to some extent when it freezes, but oat milk is a little bit more drastic than other milks in this aspect. When in doubt, leave more room at the top than less as you can always get more milk.
Leaving too little space will mean not just that your milk will be hard to get out because it will have frozen the top, but there is a not insignificant chance that the glass that you have frozen it in will break from the pressure built up inside of it.
These are the three things to be aware of before you go about freezing any type of oat milk.
Freezing Your Oat Milk
Now it comes time for you to freeze the milk. Freezing oat milk is an incredibly easy process and aside from the above three precautions you need to be mindful of, you will not need to do anything special to preserve the milk or to protect it from the harsh environment of the freezer.
For milk that comes in a carton, you can simply place that carton of milk into the freezer.
If the carton has already been opened, you will want to seal it up. If the nature of the carton does not allow for easy resealing, then you will need to opt for using a freezer-safe bottle. If the carton has been unopened, you can expect it to last for a good six months before it really becomes unusable.
If the milk is left too long in the freezer, then it will not only be intolerably grainy but it will not taste good either. You won’t have to worry about it being toxic though.
There is a second method that you can use for freezing milk that you may want to rely on as well. This method can be used when you cannot effectively reseal the carton of milk or when you are using your own homemade oat milk.
For this method, you will want to use an airtight, freezer-safe bottle of some sort. The material can be anything that falls under the freezer-safe category, although glass tends to be a safe and reliable option for this.
As mentioned above, when pouring the milk into the containers, you will want to leave at least one inch of space between the milk and the top of the glass so that the liquid has enough room to expand before it exerts too much pressure on the glass bottles.
Likewise, this method will provide up to six months of life for your milk before it becomes bad enough that you can no longer salvage the milk. In this case, you will simply need to throw it out.
With the glass bottles, you will want to take care to label and indicate the date so that you will be able to gauge how old the milk you are dealing with is so that you do not make an unfortunate mistake the next time you take it out of the freezer.
What About Unfreezing it?
Now that some degree of time has passed, you have effectively made use of the freezer, and you are ready to use the frozen milk, you will need to go through the thawing process.
This ensures that the milk will be in a state that is ready and able to be used for the things that milk tends to be used for. Chunks of frozen milk cannot make for a good drink and they do not fare well when trying to use them in cooking.
To defrost the milk, you should simply move it down to the fridge and give it some time to thaw out. Milk needs to remain chilled even when you are going to put it into a pan to cook, so you cannot and should not ever try to thaw your milk out on the countertop.
Milk should be thawed in the fridge and the fridge alone, even if this may take a little bit of extra time as the temperature change is not quite as drastic.
If you have oat milk in a carton, you will want to place the carton in the fridge. It is as simple as that when working with cartons. You should leave the oat milk in the fridge alone for anywhere between eight hours to overnight so that you can feel confident that the milk has fully thawed.
The caveat for the ease of handling a carton of oat milk is going to be that you cannot refreeze the milk once you have brought it to the fridge to thaw. This means that you will need to use up the carton of oat milk within 10 days after you have thawed it completely.
It is a little bit easier to work with bottles of milk that you poured yourself as these are going to be separate portions rather than one large one. This way, you can only take out as many bottles as you need for whatever your purposes may be.
Likewise, you will need to store the milk in the fridge for at least eight hours, although it is preferable to leave it alone overnight so that it can thaw completely.
From here, the milk needs to be consumed within 5 or 10 days as well before it begins to go bad, depending on if it was a homemade oat milk or not. Homemade oat milk has a tendency to go sour much faster as there is a notable lack of commercial preservatives in it.
To cover up the new grainy texture of the milk, you can use a cheesecloth or a nut milk bag, the same cloth materials used to strain the oats in the first place. This will strain the oats that have become too swollen and are large enough to physically sense out of the oat milk, leaving you with the same oat milk that you have always loved.
Before you know it, you will have your favorite oat milk and you won’t have to worry nearly as much about the preservation of your oat milk again as you can reliably freeze it.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. As a homeowner, I love working on projects around the house, and as a father, I love investigating various ways to keep my family safe (whether or not this involves tech). I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.