It's easy to achieve the best conditions to keep milk fresh for as long as possible simply by applying some basic principles. Here are some handy tips and tricks to get the most from your milk:
At the supermarket:
- When shopping, pick up the milk last so it doesn’t warm up while you fill your basket. Refrigerate at a temperature of between 0 °C and 4 °C as soon as possible after purchase.
- Check the milk's best before date and choose the product with the furthest date.
- Once opened, milk is safe to consume for up to 3 days. This is why it is better to buy smaller amounts more often rather than keeping larger containers open in the refrigerator for too long.
- Remember to open new milk containers in the same order in which you bought them. First in the fridge, first out.
- Keep milk containers closed and stored away from strong-smelling food items in the fridge—the milk can pick up these odours.
- Store milk on refrigerator shelves where it is cooler, rather than in the refrigerator doors.
- Whenever possible, leave milk in its original container to safeguard its flavour and nutritional value.
- Avoid exposing milk to light, as light destroys certain vitamins, such as vitamin D and riboflavin.
- To avoid spoilage, do not return unused milk from a serving pitcher to the original container.
- UHT and canned milk found in the non-refrigerated aisle are perishable once opened. Opened UHT and canned milk must therefore be refrigerated. After opening canned milk, immediately transfer any unused portions to a clean, opaque and airtight container. These milk products should be used within 3 days of opening.
- If stored in a cool, dry place, powdered milk will keep for up to 6 months. Once the package is opened, it should be used within 1 month. After being reconstituted, it should be stored and treated in the same way as regular fluid milk, meaning it should be refrigerated and used within 3 days.
- Milk can be frozen for up to 6 weeks without any impact on its flavour and nutritional value; however, upon thawing, it can separate and lose its smooth texture. Partly skimmed and skim milk freeze better than whole milk (3.25%). Thaw milk in the fridge—making sure to plan enough time as it can take 24 to 36 hours. If the milk separates upon thawing, beat it with an electric mixer or an immersion blender with the whip attachment.
- Leftover evaporated milk can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks with no adverse effects.
- If you freeze foods such as soups or stews, add the milk after you reheat the thawed food.
I have seen milk spoil before the best before date!
The best before date is accurate, as long as the ‘cold chain’ of the milk was never broken from the time it is pasteurized and packaged to the time you consume your glass of milk. It is important to understand that pasteurization of milk is reducing 99.9% of bacteria in the milk, but the small amount left, will continue to grow. As long as milk is kept cold, that low level of bacteria does not affect food safety, quality and taste.
However, if milk is left on the counter between 4 °C et 60 °C, the number of bacteria can double every 15 minutes! Therefore, pour the amount of milk you need, and to store it right back in the refrigerator. In the same vein, prepare any perishable foods as quickly as possible.