Can you freeze milk cartons?

In this brief guide, we will address the query, “Can you freeze milk cartons?”. We will discuss the method of freezing it. Moreover, we will also discuss the method of thawing it and the tips for freezing it.

Can you freeze milk cartons?

Yes, milk cartons can be frozen. Homogenized milk remains normal when frozen and stored at a constant temperature. The length of time it remains normal in the frozen state depends on the storage conditions. (1) 

How freezing can affect milk?

The freezing process can significantly affect the fat globules, promoting the release of lipoproteins and diminish stability of the lipid phase. 

Additionally, the process increases the particle size, which leads to the coalescence and natural separation of the cream, as well as an increased rate of fat oxidation and the occurrence of lipolysis. 

Freezing can also greatly affect the destabilization of proteins with a micellar nature, which depend on the temperature. (2)

What factors affect the stability of frozen milk?

Destabilization of proteins in milk during frozen storage is known to involve mainly the casein fraction and to depend on a number of factors including:

Time and temperature of storage, degree of milk concentration, lactose crystallization, prefreezing heat treatments and compositional changes achieved either by additives or by ion exchange or dialysis. (3)

How does temperature affect the stability of frozen milk?

Temperature affects the destabilization of proteins with a micellar nature. It is well known that frozen milk stored at -20°C or lower will remain stable for long periods of time, and that stability decreases greatly as the temperature is raised above -20°C. (3)

For example, the destabilization of sheep’s milk proteins at −15 °C occurs after 6 months of storage, and at −27 °C after 12 months. (2)

Homogenized milk frozen and stored at -10 °C has a slightly changed flavor after 21 days of storage and  signs of destabilization after 3 months. (1)

Why freeze milk and how does it spoil?

Milk should be immediately chilled and frozen as soon as possible in order to reduce the growth of microorganisms and enzyme activity. Milk contains bacteria such as lactococci and lactobacilli, which can thrive and multiply at temperatures higher than room temperature. 

These probiotic bacteria convert lactose, the sugar in milk, into glucose and galactose, altering its composition. The presence of lactic acid becomes apparent through the familiar tangy aroma and taste. As the casein protein undergoes changes, the curdling process initiates.(2, 4)

How to tell if that milk has gone bad?

When milk spoils, it emits a rancid and sour odor that is easily detectable. Additionally, its texture and consistency undergo alterations, while the color fades and takes on a pale hue with hints of yellow. 

Notable indicators of milk spoilage include specific characteristics such as an “acidic aftertaste,” a “chalky mouthfeel,” or an overall sense of sourness.

Spoiled raw milk may become inedible as it curdles and acquires a distinct sour taste and odor. However, curdled milk can be repurposed for making cheese, cream, and kefir, so it need not be discarded.

In contrast, pasteurized milk does not sour due to the absence of bacteria responsible for curdling. Instead, it undergoes a process of decay and becomes unsuitable for consumption. (4)

What happens if you drink spoiled milk?

Consuming spoiled milk can result in food poisoning, leading to unpleasant symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Milk spoilage can occur due to various microorganisms, and certain bacteria can pose considerable health hazards to individuals.

Thankfully, in the majority of instances, these symptoms tend to improve or resolve within three days. However, if the symptoms persist, worsen, or if any concerns arise, it is important to seek medical attention and consult a doctor for proper guidance. (4)


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query,” Can you freeze milk cartons?”. We have discussed the method of freezing it. Moreover, we have also discussed the method of thawing it and the tips for freezing it.


  1. Babcock, C. J., Roerig, R. N., Stabile, J. N., Dunlap, W. A., & Randall, R. Frozen Homogenized Milk. 1. Effect of Freezing and Storage Temperature on the Physical Characteristics of Homogenized Milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 29(10), 699–706. 1946.
  2. Biegalski J, Cais-Sokolińska D, Tomaszewska-Gras J, Baranowska HM. The Effect of Freezing Sheep ‘s Milk on the Meltability, Texture, Melting and Fat Crystallization Profiles of Fresh Pasta Filata Cheese. Animals (Basel). 2021 Sep 19;11(9):2740.
  3. KOSCHAK, M. S., FENNEMA, O., AMUNDSON, C. H., & LEE, J. Y. Protein Stability of Frozen Milk as Influenced by Storage Temperature and Ultrafiltration. Journal of Food Science, 46(4) 1981.
  4. Lu, M., & Wang, N. S.  Spoilage of Milk and Dairy Products. The Microbiological Quality of Food, 151–178. 2017.

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