In summary: Yes, you can freeze half and half, but it will change its texture and become grainy, so it is better to use it for cooking or baking than for drinking.
Half and half is the perfect creamy milk blend to add to hot coffee or even an iced mocha. With more milk fat, it is slightly richer than milk, but not quite as heavy as pure cream, allowing it to strike a fine balance right in the middle.
As a dairy product, manufacturers will not recommend the freezing of half and half, however, it can be frozen to prevent waste and extend its shelf life. Below you will find out everything you need to know about freezing half and half, and how to use it once thawed.
Can Half and Half Be Frozen?
Yes, half and half can be frozen to extend its shelf life, however, it is important to know that the consistency of the product will not be the same once defrosted. The milk fat will split on freezing which causes it to appear curdled with a slightly grainy texture.
Despite the altered texture being unpleasant to drink in your morning coffee, thawed half and half will still be perfectly good for using in baked products and cooked dishes, providing the same creamy taste as before it was frozen.
There are a couple of tricks you can do to minimize the curdling during the freezing process.
How To Freeze Half and Half
Placing unopened half and half in the freezer is the best way to ensure a good quality product once thawed. As the container is still sealed and the milk-cream mixture has not come into contact with air, it should not curdle once thawed.
If you are freezing half and half that has already been opened, make sure it is still fairly fresh and has not reached its expiry date.
To avoid wastage once thawed, you may want to freeze it in smaller quantities so that you can defrost only as much as you need at a time.
Below are two methods to freeze leftover half and half.
Method 1: How To Freeze Half and Half In Ice Cubes
Step 1: Portion and Freeze
Pour half and half into clean ice cube trays and place them in the freezer until frozen solid.
Step 2: Pack and Seal
Remove the frozen cubes from the ice cube containers and place them into a freezer safe ziploc bag or container with an airtight lid.
Keeping the half and half cubes in an airtight container will prevent the absorption of odors from surrounding foods which could affect the taste. Remove any air from the bag by pressing it down before sealing.
Step 3: Label
Label it with the freezing date and place the bag flat in the freezer.
Method 2: How To Freeze Half and Half In Containers
Step 1: Decant
Pour one cup (or less) half and half into air-tight resealable bags or freezer safe containers. The containers must be air-tight to prevent the half and half from spoiling faster and from absorbing odors from surrounding foods.
Step 2: Close
If you are using ziplock freezer bags, try to avoid air bubbles and seal them by pressing out as much air as possible.
If using containers, do not fill the container to the brim as the liquid will expand on freezing. Close the air-tight containers.
Step 3: Label and Freeze
Label the freezer bag or container with the contents and date. Containers should be placed upright in the freezer.
Freezer bags can be laid flat on a baking sheet to freeze. Once frozen, remove the entire baking sheet and easily store the frozen half and half packets stacked in the freezer with plenty of space to spare.
How To Thaw Frozen Half and Half
Half and half should be defrosted by placing it in the fridge overnight to thaw.
Once defrosted, you will notice that the half and half has separated and does not look very appetizing. The milk fat separation is natural and does not mean that the product has spoiled.
For a slightly better consistency, place the defrosted half and half into a blender and give it a whizz for 20 to 30 seconds or give it a good whisk by hand.
Types of Half and Half
Half and half is a blend of equal parts milk and cream with a 10 to 18 percent fat content. Heavy cream has a milk fat content of at least 36 percent which makes it very rich and also allows it to be fluffed into peaks as whipped cream.
Since half and half has a much lower fat content, it cannot be used in whipped recipes, but still adds richness without being as heavy as cream on its own. If you are calorie-counting, replace half and half for heavy cream.
As opposed to the blend of half cream and half milk, there is another variation of half and half which is called ‘fat-free half and half’.
This type replaces the milk fat with corn syrup and thickeners, making it lower fat, yet a very processed product.
Although half and half from general grocery stores has been ultra-pasteurized to extend its shelf life, it is always best to store it in the refrigerator.
Manufacturers do not recommend freezing half and half due to the altered texture once thawed. However, defrosted half and half can be incorporated into any cooked dishes or baking recipes for a fantastic outcome. Since it has a higher milk fat percentage than whole milk, but lower than cream, it offers the perfect middle ground.
The best way to freeze half and half is by putting the original unopened container straight into the freezer after purchasing. This way, it won’t split as there has been no exposure to oxygen and you can thaw the entire carton without experiencing a curdling effect.
Even though you might not be able to use frozen half and half for coffee, it is definitely worth freezing it to preserve it for future use. Alternatively, you can use a substitute for half and half if needed.
Up Next: Can you freeze sour cream?
Image by depositphotos/dmitry2977