Freeze drying of milk

Freeze Drying of Milk: The Ultimate Guide

*All information in this post is my opinion and gathered through my own research. Please do your own research before following any information in this post. This is for information purposes only. Also consult your doctor before taking any supplements*

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Freeze drying milk is a process that preserves milk powder, extending its shelf life and maintaining its nutritional value. This method of food preservation has gained popularity in recent years, as it allows milk to be stored for long periods without the need for refrigeration.

In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the process of freeze drying milk, discuss the factors to consider when choosing milk for freeze drying, and provide tips for preparing, freeze drying, storing, and reconstituting milk powder.

As a result of freeze drying, the milk is transformed into a dry product in powdered form, which can be easily stored and used as needed.

Different kinds of milks

Choosing the Right Milk for Freeze Drying

When it comes to freeze drying milk, it is important to choose the right milk variety. Different milk types have varying nutritional properties, consistency, and taste, which can affect the end result of freeze drying. Here are some factors to consider when selecting milk for freeze drying:

Factors to Consider

  • Batch Size: If you are planning to freeze dry large quantities of milk, you may need a large freeze dryer or multiple smaller freeze dryers to accommodate the batch size.
  • Drying Time: The freeze drying process of milk powder takes time, so it is essential to plan accordingly for drying time, nutritional preservation, and food storage.
  • Nutritional Value: Consider the nutritional value of milk, as freeze drying milk powder retains bioactive properties, enzymes, lipase, and lactation fortification. Different milk varieties contain different nutritional properties, so choose milk that aligns with your nutritional goals.
  • Temperature Sensitivity: The freeze drying process of milk powder involves high temperatures, which can affect nutritional properties. Keep this in mind when selecting milk, especially if you are looking to preserve specific nutritional properties.
  • Storage: Ensure proper storage of freeze dried milk powder using airtight pouches, mason jars, or other food storage containers. Consider your storage space and preferences when selecting milk for freeze drying.
Different milks in glasses

Best Milk Varieties for Freeze Drying

Now that we have discussed the factors to consider, let’s explore some of the best milk varieties for freeze drying:

  • Whole milk: Whole milk is often chosen for freeze drying, as it retains high nutritional value, taste, and bioactive properties. It provides a rich, creamy milk powder that can be used in various food products.
  • Raw milk: When freeze dried, raw milk preserves raw milk enzymes, bioactive properties, and nutritional value. If you have access to raw milk, freeze drying can be a great way to preserve its benefits.
  • Skim milk: Skim milk, freeze dried, can be used for nutritional fortification, providing high protein milk powder. It is a popular choice for those looking to add protein to their diet or fortify food products with skim milk powder.
  • Organic milk: Freeze drying organic milk ensures that the milk powder is free from hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. It provides a clean, pure milk powder option for those who value organic products.
  • Plant-based milk alternatives: Plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond milk or coconut milk, can also be freeze dried, offering dairy-free options for those with lactose intolerance or dietary restrictions.

By selecting the right milk variety, you can ensure that your freeze dried milk powder meets your nutritional, taste, and consistency preferences.

Pouring milk into a glass

Preparing Milk for Freeze Drying

Once you have chosen the milk variety for freeze drying, it is essential to prepare the milk before freeze drying to ensure optimal results. Here are the steps to prepare milk for freeze drying:

Steps to Prepare Milk

  1. Start by selecting fresh milk of your choice, preferably whole milk.
  2. Pour the milk into a blender and blend it on high speed for a few seconds. This step helps homogenize the milk, ensuring a consistent freeze drying process.
  3. Transfer the milk to a quart mason jar, leaving some space at the top for expansion during freeze drying.
  4. Secure the lid tightly on the jar, ensuring it is properly sealed to prevent any leaks during the freeze drying process.
  5. Place the jar of milk in the freezer and freeze it until solid before freeze drying. Freezing the milk beforehand helps to preserve its nutritional properties and consistency during freeze drying.
Quick tips

Tips for Best Results

To achieve the best results when freeze drying milk, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Use fresh milk: Fresh milk, close to its expiration date, freeze dries well. Avoid using milk that is past its expiration date, as it may not freeze dry properly.
  • Consider milk consistency: Different milk varieties have different water content, which can affect the freeze drying process. For example, skim milk, with high water content, may result in a less desirable consistency. Consider using whole milk or other milk varieties for optimal results.
  • Fortify milk if desired: If you want to fortify your milk powder with additional nutrition, consider adding powdered lactation supplements or other nutritional fortification before freeze drying.
  • Follow freeze dryer instructions: Each freeze dryer may have specific instructions and recommended settings for freeze drying milk powder. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and adjust the settings as needed for your milk batch size and consistency.
  • Proper storage of freeze-dried milk: To maintain the quality of freeze-dried milk powder, store it in airtight, moisture-resistant containers, such as pouches or mason jars, in a cool, dry place.

By following these steps and tips, you can ensure that your milk is prepared properly for freeze drying, resulting in high-quality milk powder.

Harvest Right freeze dryer and accessories

Using a Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer

Now that your milk is prepared for freeze drying, let’s explore how to use a Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer, one of the popular freeze dryers available in the market, for freeze drying milk.

Setting Up the Freeze Dryer

Before using your freeze dryer, it is important to ensure that it is clean, free of any debris or residue, and properly set up for freeze drying milk powder. Here are the steps to set up your freeze dryer:

  1. Clean your freeze dryer: Make sure your freeze dryer is clean, both inside and outside, before using it for freeze drying milk powder. Remove any food particles, residue, or debris from previous freeze drying cycles.
  2. Connect to power source: Connect your freeze dryer to a power source, ensuring it is properly grounded for safe operation.
  3. Choose a well-ventilated area: Place your freeze dryer in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight, high temperatures, or heat sources. This helps maintain optimal freeze drying conditions.
  4. Level your freeze dryer: Ensure that your freeze dryer is level and stable, using any included leveling feet if necessary. This helps prevent any uneven drying of milk powder during the freeze drying process.
  5. Familiarize with control panel: Take time to familiarize yourself with the freeze dryer’s control panel and settings. Understand how to adjust temperature, time, and other parameters based on your milk batch size and consistency.

By properly setting up your freeze dryer, you can ensure safe, efficient, and high-quality freeze drying of milk powder.

Powdered milk in a pile

Process of Freeze Drying Milk

Now, let’s dive into the process of freeze drying milk using your Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer:

  1. Once your milk is frozen, transfer the jar of milk to the freeze dryer, ensuring it is securely in place. Make sure the jar is sealed properly to prevent any leaks during the process.
  2. Close the freeze dryer door, ensuring it is tightly sealed, to maintain the low temperature required for freeze drying milk powder.
  3. Start the freeze drying process, following the manufacturer’s instructions and adjusting the temperature, time, and other settings as needed for your milk batch size and consistency.
  4. The freeze dryer will remove water from the milk using low temperatures, resulting in freeze-dried milk powder. The water in the milk undergoes sublimation, converting directly from a solid to a gas, without going through the liquid phase.
  5. The freeze drying process can take several hours, depending on the amount of milk being freeze dried. It is important to be patient and allow the process to complete fully for optimal results.
  6. Once the process is complete, carefully remove the freeze-dried milk from the freeze dryer, handling it gently to avoid breaking the milk powder. You now have freeze-dried milk powder ready for storage or reconstitution.
Holding a lit up light bulb

Understanding Freeze Drying and Its Benefits

Before we delve deeper into using freeze-dried milk powder, let’s take a moment to understand freeze drying and its benefits.

The Science Behind Freeze Drying

Freeze drying, also known as lyophilization, is a process of food preservation that involves freeze solidification, followed by water removal through sublimation using low temperatures and high vacuum. When freeze drying milk, water is removed, leaving behind milk powder with preserved nutritional properties.

Advantages of Freeze Drying Milk

Freeze drying milk offers several advantages compared to other food preservation methods, such as spray drying or dehydrating milk. Here are some of the benefits of freeze drying milk:

  • Nutritional value preservation: Freeze drying milk powder retains much of its original nutritional value, including bioactive properties, enzymes, lipase, lactation fortification, and other nutritional components of fresh milk.
  • Extended shelf life: Freeze drying milk extends its shelf life, allowing for long-term storage without the need for refrigeration. Proper storage of freeze-dried milk powder can provide an expected shelf life of up to 25 years, making it a valuable addition to food storage supplies.
  • Reduced storage space: Freeze drying milk powder takes up less space compared to liquid milk, making it a space-saving option, especially for large quantities of milk powder. This can be particularly beneficial for those with limited storage space.
  • Convenience of use: Freeze drying milk powder offers convenience, as it can be easily rehydrated when needed, providing fresh milk consistency and taste. It eliminates the need for constant refrigeration, making it ideal for camping, backpacking, or emergency food supplies.
  • Versatility in food products: Freeze drying milk powder can be used in various food products, beverages, and recipes, adding nutritional value, consistency, and taste. It can be rehydrated for drinking, used in yogurt, kefir, or other dairy products, or incorporated into cooking and baking.

By freeze drying milk, you can preserve its nutritional properties, extend its shelf life, and enjoy the convenience of having milk powder readily available.

Vs picture

Comparing Freeze Dried Milk to Powdered Milk

Now, let’s compare freeze-dried milk powder to powdered milk, which is another popular form of milk preservation.

Nutritional Differences

When it comes to nutritional value, freeze drying milk retains more of its original nutritional properties compared to powdered milk. Here are some of the nutritional differences between freeze-dried milk powder and powdered milk:

  • Freeze drying milk powder retains bioactive properties, enzymes, lipase, lactation fortification, and other nutritional components of fresh milk. This preservation of nutritional value makes freeze drying milk powder a preferred choice for those looking to maintain the bioactive properties of milk.
  • Powdered milk, on the other hand, may undergo more processing, including high temperature drying, which can result in the loss of nutritional properties. Powdered milk is often skim milk powder, which may have less nutritional value compared to whole milk powder.
  • Freeze drying milk powder consistency ensures nutritional consistency, as bioactive properties, enzymes, lipase, lactation fortification, and other nutritional components of fresh milk are preserved during the freeze drying process, minimizing nutritional losses over time.
  • Powdered milk, depending on the drying process, may have a different consistency, taste, and nutritional value, especially when skim milk powder is used.
different candies laid out

Taste and Texture Differences

In terms of taste and texture, freeze-dried milk powder offers distinct advantages over powdered milk. Here are some of the taste and texture differences between freeze-dried milk powder and powdered milk:

  • Freeze drying milk powder maintains much of the original taste, consistency, and creaminess of fresh milk when rehydrated. It is less dry and powdery compared to powdered milk, offering a more enjoyable drinking experience.
  • Rehydrated freeze-dried milk powder dissolves quickly, without clumping, creating a smooth, enjoyable milk consistency. It closely resembles fresh milk, both in taste and texture.
  • Freeze drying milk powder can also be used in yogurt, kefir, and other dairy products, adding richness and flavor. It provides a versatile powder form of milk that can be used in various food products.

Storage and Shelf-Life of Freeze-Dried Milk

Now that your milk powder is freeze-dried, it is important to understand how to properly store it to maintain its quality and ensure a long shelf life.

Stacks of food jars

Proper Storage Methods

To properly store freeze-dried milk powder, consider the following storage methods:

  • Transfer freeze-dried milk powder into storage containers, such as pouches or mason jars, immediately after freeze drying. Ensure that the storage containers are clean, dry, and airtight, preventing moisture absorption and bacterial growth.
  • Label the storage containers with the date of freeze drying, batch number, and any additional information, such as fortification or flavoring, for easy identification and tracking.
  • Store freeze-dried milk powder in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, high temperatures, and strong odors, to maintain its quality over time.
  • Consider using oxygen absorbers or vacuum sealing equipment, if available, to further extend the shelf life of freeze-dried milk powder.

By following these storage methods, your freeze-dried milk powder can maintain its nutritional value, consistency, and taste for an extended period.

Nutrition scale

Expected Shelf-Life

When properly stored, freeze-dried milk powder can have an expected shelf life of up to 25 years, making it an excellent long-term food storage option with a 10+ year shelf life.

This means that freeze-dried milk can stay fresh for over a decade, surpassing other milk preservation methods like canned evaporated milk or conventional dehydrated milk powder, which may have an off flavor.

Factors such as storage conditions, container quality, original milk quality, and handling practices can affect the actual shelf life of freeze-dried milk powder.

To ensure optimal freshness, regularly inspect freeze-dried milk powder for signs of spoilage, such as moisture, mold, or off flavors. If any products show signs of degradation, it is advisable to discard them.

Additionally, it is recommended to rotate your freeze-dried milk powder supply every few years, using older stock and replenishing it with fresh freeze-dried milk powder. When defrosting milk, it’s important to avoid thawing it at room temperature as this could cause off-flavors.

Instead, immediately cut it out of the bag and lay it in a casserole pan to defrost in the refrigerator. Once it’s liquid, pour it into a half-gallon glass jar, give it a good shake, and it’s ready to use for baking or for drinking.

Pouring water out of glass jar

Reconstituting Freeze-Dried Milk

Now that you have freeze-dried milk powder, you may be wondering how to rehydrate it for consumption. Here are the steps for reconstituting freeze-dried milk powder:

Steps for Reconstitution

  1. Measure the desired amount of freeze-dried milk powder using a food scale or measuring cup. Follow the instructions on the milk powder packaging for the recommended water-to-powder ratio.
  2. In a separate container, heat water to your desired temperature, typically using hot water from a kettle or tap. The temperature of the water can affect the consistency of the rehydrated milk, so adjust accordingly based on your preferences.
  3. Gradually add the powdered milk to the hot water, stirring or whisking continuously until fully dissolved. It is important to add the powder gradually to avoid clumping and ensure even rehydration.
  4. Allow the reconstituted milk to cool if using it for beverages, or use it immediately in recipes, adjusting consistency as needed. Rehydrated freeze-dried milk powder closely resembles fresh milk in consistency, taste, and nutritional value, making it suitable for various culinary applications.
  5. Store any unused reconstituted milk in the refrigerator, using it within a few days for optimal freshness.
Glass of milk

Uses of Reconstituted Milk

Reconstituted milk powder has various uses in cooking, baking, and beverages. Here are some of the uses of reconstituted milk powder:

  • Cooking and baking: Reconstituted milk powder can be used as a substitute for fresh milk in cooking and baking recipes, providing nutritional value, consistency, and taste.
  • Beverages: Rehydrated milk powder can be used in coffee, tea, smoothies, and other beverages, adding richness and nutritional value.
  • Dairy products: Reconstituted milk powder can be used in yogurt, kefir, and other dairy products, enhancing their flavor and nutritional properties.
  • Nutritional fortification: Rehydrated milk powder can be used to fortify food products, providing additional nutrition, especially in lactation fortification products or nutritional fortification of other food products.
  • Emergency food supplies: Freeze-dried milk powder’s extended shelf life makes it a convenient option for emergency food supplies, camping trips, or situations where fresh milk is not readily available.

By rehydrating freeze-dried milk powder, you can enjoy the nutritional value, consistency, and taste of fresh milk in various culinary applications.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Freeze Drying Milk

While freeze drying milk powder is generally a straightforward process, it is not without its challenges. Here are some common issues that may arise during freeze drying milk powder and how to troubleshoot them:

Holding a glass of milk

How Does Freeze-Dried Milk Taste?

One of the common questions about freeze-dried milk powder is how it tastes compared to fresh milk. When freeze-dried milk powder is rehydrated, it closely resembles fresh milk in taste, consistency, and nutritional value.

The freeze drying process preserves much of the original taste and consistency of fresh milk, providing a convenient alternative for those who may not have access to fresh milk or prefer a longer shelf life for their milk supply.

Whether using freeze-dried milk powder in beverages, cooking, or baking, it provides a high-quality milk consistency that maintains nutritional value and retains its original consistency when rehydrated (provided you rehydrate it back to its original consistency).

Milk splashing in a cup


Freeze drying milk is a convenient and effective way to extend its shelf life and preserve its nutritional value. By following the step-by-step guide provided, you can ensure that your freeze-dried milk is of the highest quality.

The process begins with choosing the right milk for freeze drying, considering factors such as fat content and additives. Preparing the milk involves sterilizing it and removing any excess water before placing it in a freeze dryer.

Once freeze dried, the milk can be stored for an extended period without losing its nutrients. Reconstituting the milk is simple and can be done by adding water. Whether you are looking to stock up on emergency supplies or enjoy the convenience of powdered milk, freeze drying is a method worth exploring.

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