Half-and-half is one of those dairy products that most folks normally keep on hand all the time, and now that half-and-half has become so popular as a coffee creamer, it is easy to buy too much. If that happens, you may wonder if it can be frozen.
Half-and-half can be frozen, but it is better to pour it into a freezer bag to freeze it or to use any freezer-safe container. Half-and-half will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months before it begins to degrade in quality.
The Best Way To Freeze Half-and-Half
There are three good ways to freeze half-and-half.
- The best way to freeze half-and-half is to pour it into a freezer bag, lay it flat on a baking sheet, and put it into the freezer to freeze. By flattening the bag of half-and-half, it will be much faster to thaw when you are ready to use it.
- Half-and-half can also be frozen in ice trays, and then the frozen cubes can be transferred into a plastic bag where they can be taken from the bag individually and used as needed.
- Another good way to freeze half-and-half is to pour it into any freezer-safe container, like this type found on Amazon, and put it right into the freezer. Be sure to leave enough headspace in the container to allow for expansion as the half-and-half freezes.
Can I Freeze Half-and-Half In The Original Carton?
Although half-and-half comes from the grocery in containers that were designed for milk storage, those milk containers may not be freezer safe, and the chances of the half-and-half becoming contaminated by other foods stored in the freezer are higher in the milk containers than if either freezer bags or freezer-safe containers were used for its storage.
What Is The Best Way To Thaw Frozen Half-and-Half?
Frozen half-and-half can be thawed by moving the container from the freezer right into the refrigerator, where it will thaw overnight.
However, if you are in a rush and need the half-and-half right away, the container of half-and-half can be placed in a bowl of cool water to speed up the process.
What Are Some Other Ways To Preserve Half-and-Half?
In addition to freezing half-and-half, there is at least one other good way to preserve half-and-half for long-term storage, and that is by drying. And, there are multiple ways of drying half-and-half and other dairy products. Here are 3 ways to dry half-and-half and other milk products:
The dehydrator method:
- Scald the milk, then let cool.
- Place liners into each dehydrator tray that you are using.
- Pour the scalded and cooled to room temperature milk into each evaporator pan. Make sure there is 1 inch of milk or less in each pan.
- Set the dehydrator to the 130℉ setting.
- Set the dehydrator to cook for 8 to 12 hours. Check the milk after cooking for 8 hours and then after each additional hour until it has reached the consistency of peanut brittle.
- When the milk is close to the peanut brittle stage, turn it over every 20-30 minutes to help it dry thoroughly a little faster.
- When the milk is completely dry and flaky, remove it from the dehydrator and allow it to cool until it reaches room temperature.
- Place the dry milk into a blender or a food processor and process it until it reaches a fine powder stage.
- Place the milk powder in a glass jar that is completely dry and seal it with a lid. Or, place the milk powder in a vacuum seal bag and vacuum seal it.
- Store the containers of milk powder in a cool, dry area away from any source of heat, light, or humidity.
The stovetop and oven method:
Note: This is the method I followed recently. For this method, it is unnecessary to scald the milk before beginning this process because it will scald while it is cooking in the double boiler.
- Pour the milk into a double boiler, or improvise by placing a saucepan into a large skillet. Add 1 inch of water to the skillet and add water as needed to keep at least 1 inch of water in the skillet at all times.
- Simmer the milk over medium heat to scald, then reduce the heat slightly so that the milk doesn’t reach the boiling stage.
- Simmer the milk over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring as needed to prevent scorching. Be sure to add water as needed to the bottom of the pan during the evaporation process.
- When the milk reaches the consistency of paste (see picture 1 below), preheat the oven to 150℉ or the oven’s lowest setting.
- Remove the pan from the heat and spread out the milk paste on parchment paper in as thin a layer as possible on baking pans, pie pans, or cookie sheets.
- Place the baking pans into the heated oven and bake until the paste is completely dry and has the consistency of peanut brittle.
- Prop the oven door open slightly while the milk paste is baking to allow evaporation. If necessary, place something oven-proof into the open door to allow the door to be open only 3 or 4 inches. I used a small loaf pan to prop mine open.
- When the milk is close to the consistency of peanut brittle, turn it over every 20 to 30 minutes to help it dry faster.
- The drying process will take approximately 8 to 12 hours. When the milk is completely dry, remove the pan or pans from the oven and allow the dry milk to cool to room temperature. See photo 2.
- Place the pieces of dry milk into a blender or food processor and process it until it reaches a fine powder stage. See photos 3 and 4.
- Place the milk powder into a completely dry glass jar or a vacuum seal bag and seal the container. See photo 6.
- Store the powdered milk in a cool, dry area away from any source of heat, light, or humidity.
Note: This only made a very small batch for demonstration purposes.
The oven method:
- Scald the milk and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Preheat your oven to its lowest setting.
- Pour the scalded and cooled milk into enough baking pans so that there is only 1 inch or less of milk in each pan.
- Place the pans of milk into the preheated oven, leaving the door cracked 3 to 4 inches to allow proper evaporation.
- Cook the milk for approximately 8 to 12 hours, or longer if necessary. Check the milk at least once every hour.
- The drying process will take approximately 8 to 12 hours.
- When the milk is dry and has reached the consistency of peanut brittle, remove the pan or pans from the oven and allow the dried milk to cool to room temperature.
- Place a small amount of the dry milk into a blender or food processor, and process it until it becomes a fine powder.
- Place the milk powder into a completely dry glass jar or a vacuum seal bag and seal the containers.
- Store the containers of milk powder in a cool, dry area away from any source of heat, light, or humidity.
How Can I Reconstitute Milk Powder?
Homemade milk powder can be reconstituted by using the following formula: ⅓ cup of milk powder for every 1 cup of water.
What To Do With Too Much Half-and-Half?
If you find yourself the proud owner of a large supply of half-and-half, here are some dishes that you can make that will allow you to substitute the half-and-half for milk to make an extra creamy treat for your family. Some of these options, like ice cream and pound cake, will freeze well so that you can enjoy them at a later time.
- Coffee creamer
- Homemade scratch biscuits- Recipe video below
- Quick breads (banana bread, zucchini bread, persimmon bread)
- Homemade ice cream
- White sauce for pasta
- Macaroni and cheese
- Scrambled eggs
- French toast
- Creamy soups.
- Puddings and pie fillings
- Mashed potatoes
- Pound cake- Recipe video below
How Long Does Half-and-Half Last?
- The refrigerated version of half-and-half that is purchased from your store’s dairy case will stay good unopened for up to 10 days after the printed best-by date.
- When opened, it should be used within 7 to 10 days after opening.
- However, if the container of half-and-half was opened after the best-by date, it should be used within 2 to 3 days.
- Half-and-half that has been frozen will remain good and a peak quality for up to 3 months. It will still be good for a longer period of time, but the quality will begin to diminish after about 3 months.
- The small canned packs of half-and-half that are packaged individually as coffee creamer have a preservative added which will keep them good for up to 2 months past their best-by date.
Tips For Maximizing The Shelf Life Of Half-and-Half
These are a few easy steps to take to make sure your container of half-and-half stays good as long as possible:
- Keep half-and-half refrigerated at all times.
- Once the container has been opened, be sure to close the lid securely after dispensing.
- Store the container of half-and-half in a part of the refrigerator that is away from the door to avoid fluctuations in temperature.
- To avoid cross-contamination with other foods stored in the refrigerator, store foods that have a strong taste and smell away from the half-and-half container.
- Even though the individual packets of half-and-half coffee creamers do not have to be refrigerated, store them in a cool part of the kitchen as far as possible from any heat source or sunlight.
Can You Can Half-and-Half?
Dairy products should not be canned for at least two very good reasons:
- The processes by which food is canned, either pressure, water bath, or atmospheric steam, are not suitable for dairy products.
- Dairy products are low-acid foods that make destroying and stopping the growth of bacteria, which causes botulism, more difficult.
And, according to an article by Penn State Extension, not only should half-and-half not be canned, but it is not safe to use dairy as an ingredient in other products like soups, gravies, and custards that are being canned.
Is It Safe To Cook With Sour Half-and-Half?
Is it safe to cook with half-and-half after it is no longer fresh and has become sour to the taste? Yes, even though they are no longer good to drink, sour half-and-half and sour milk, as long as they have not curdled, can be used in baking.
In fact, cakes, biscuits, and other quick breads made with sour milk have an enhanced flavor, especially in recipes that call for buttermilk or yogurt. Some of the best pound cakes and biscuits I have ever made were made with sour milk.
How Can I Tell When Half-and-Half Has Gone Bad?
There are about 4 good ways to determine whether your half-and-half has gone bad. They are:
- If the odor of the half-and-half is a little off or smells sour, don’t take a chance, just discard it.
- If there is mold on the inside of the package, it should be discarded immediately.
- If the product has sat in your refrigerator for 10 days or more past the best-by date, even if it looks and smells good, it is better just to discard it immediately.
- If the half-and-half appears curdled and has lumps in it, that is a sure sign it has gone bad.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss Freezer Strategy | The 10 Do’s and Dont’s of Freezing Foods.
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