What is the Best Method for Thawing Frozen Milk?

My family uses skim, 2%, and whole milk for different purposes and different people. We don't use them up fast enough, so I decided to buy them in the gallon size, pour half into pitchers for the frig, and put the remaining gallon container (which is now just half-filled) into the freezer.


I have tried thawing the containers in the frig, but it takes several days. I have tried thawing them on the counter (and shaking the container throughout the day), but that also takes a long time. Has anyone tried using the defrost cycle on their microwave to thaw frozen milk? Does this work? Is there any reason I should "not" do that? Thanks for sharing any experiences you might have that are similar to my family's milk situation.

By Tina from Ashland, OR

February 2, 20110 found this helpful

The only thing about using the microwave, is you aren't supposed to use certain plastics in the microwave. Try taking the milk out of the freezer a day or two ahead of when you will need it. However, I would never buy different milk for different family members. In my house one kind (skim) works for all. You could also buy half gallons of each kind.

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful

I can't add much to what radhatterb has said. It seems like the milk may start to cook or boil on the outside before the inside thaws if you microwave it. Bad idea. Buying half gallons makes more sense. In my home we use 1% for everything except coffee. I buy half & half for that.

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful

I use skim for everything. For cooking if a recipe calls for whole milk, I just use a little bit less.

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February 2, 20110 found this helpful

Fill the sink in your kitchen with hot water and dunk the milk jug in there!

It will prob. take about 4 hours and it will be thawed.

The more water your sink can hold, the better.

I have a real deep sink and can put about 20 gallons in one side. I use it to thaw all kinds of stuff.

Try it!

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February 3, 20110 found this helpful

Hello Tina. We also use different percentages of milk fat products for different uses and yes, we freeze them all. The real trick is to plan how you want to use them and give them each enough time to thaw slowly in the fridge - and yes it could take a few days, depending upon the container size, to fully defrost.

I wouldn't consider using the microwave (see redhatterb and OliveOyl's concerns) but suspect that defrosting in a warm waterbath (BigEar's comment) might work with small containers. I think this hits the nail on the head: Freezing in smaller containers, rather than half gallons, might work better for your family needs if you don't have a detailed, preplanned menu and as you gradually use these products on an as needed basis.

Hope you find a solution that works for you and yours! Good luck.

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February 3, 20110 found this helpful

Thanks everyone! I hadn't thought about the whole "plastic in the microwave" health issue, and I am so glad you guys thought about it. I definitely won't be doing that. Changing to everyone in the family using the same milk isn't an option in our situation due to health issues and wasn't really the question I was asking, but thanks for responding anyway. I like the whole idea of filling the sink and thawing there. I do that with frozen fish fillets, so I don't know why I didn't think of that method myself. In reading over your tips, though, I remembered that I have 1-quart and 2-quart canning jars that would be perfect for freezing milk as long as I leave the head space, and those would likely thaw well in the water-filled sink. Thanks so much for all the advice. It was really helpful. :)

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February 4, 20110 found this helpful

Here's some food for thought, milk (along with most perishable items) should NOT be left out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours. After 2 hours it will start to develop bacteria which will lead to a foodborne illness. Keep that in mind when reading these suggestions. According to the FDA: Never thaw foods on the counter. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, under cold running water (40 degrees or less), or in the microwave.

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Anonymous Flag
November 30, 20150 found this helpful

well, you are wrong.. Yes milk will start develop bacteria after 2 hours outside but not when it have a big chunk of frozen milk in the middle of it. think of it as an inner fridge

I can ensure you the thawed part of it has a lower degree then its spoilage point.

in the 40's people still had fridges who worked on ice, are you telling me that their milk went sour after 2 hours? lol

I'll finish this with a some very odd info (I have never done it, but it's based on researches): Today's milk goes through "super" pasteurization. It takes 2 or 3 days (when outside) for it to actually go sour. Scary food for minds haha

Guys keep in mind, when milk goes sour - it is still drinkable.. maybe not tasty but drinkable (when it's starting to get cured, then it's really no good).. So if your milk still taste fine - then it's 100% fine. Kinda hard to miss with milk

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