If you live in North America, chances are you’re familiar with half-and-half. This dairy product is typically added to coffee and used in many cooking recipes.
One day, you have a half-full carton of half-and-half that’s been in the fridge for a few days. So, you’re thinking of a way to extend its shelf life: can you freeze half-and-half?
Perhaps, you bought a few extra cartons on sale. Some of them are approaching the use-by date while you have no plan to use it up anytime soon.
Freezing half-and-half sounds like an option. But you’re unsure because it’s a dairy. So, does half-and-half freeze well?
If you are familiar with either situation above, we got you covered. We answered the most asked questions about preserving half-and-half. A step-to-step guide to freezing half-and-half is also included below. So, keep reading!
Can Half and Half Be Frozen?
Half-and-half is a dairy product made of equal parts of milk and cream, hence the name. It is a versatile product that goes well in coffee, baked goods, cooked dishes, desserts, and even cocktails.
When it comes to storage and preservation, freezing is the easiest to do at home. While freezing works perfectly for a wide range of food products, that’s not really the case for half-and-half.
Just like many other dairy products (such as cream cheese, buttermilk, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt), freezing half-and-half alters its texture and possibly its taste too. That’s why producers such as Land O Lakes don’t recommend freezing their products.
But again, freezing half-and-half is not impossible to do because safety aspects are not a concern.
Half-and-half tends to separate after thawing. Thus, adding thawed half-and-half in hot coffee might not be the best idea. But, it is usually still acceptable for baking and cooking.
How To Freeze Half-and-half
Half-and-half is prone to bacterial spoilage if not sealed tightly and well refrigerated. If you’re not able to finish the opened carton within 3 to 5 days, freezing is an option to give you additional time to use it up.
Don’t wait until the last minute to freeze half-and-half. Make sure that half-and-half is still fresh and not spoiled when you freeze it. Thus, don’t bother to freeze if it’s curdled or taste sour. This one should be tossed immediately.
If you’re still doubting whether freezing half-and-half is worth trying, consider freezing a small amount and see if you’re happy with the result!
Here is our step-to-step guide to freezing half-and-half successfully.
- 1. Portion half-and-half into an appropriate amount for each use. This step is useful for thawing.
- If you only need a spoonful or two each time, consider freezing half-and-half in ice cube trays. Flash freeze for a few hours and pack them into a freezer-safe container after they’re frozen solid.
- 2. Transfer half-and-half to a freezer-safe container or bag.
- Avoid freezing in its original container since the carton is usually not freezer-safe. Next to that, the liquid tends to expand when freezing. If the carton is full, it can swell and burst in the freezer.
- 3. If using a freezer bag, lay it on a baking tray, squeeze as much as possible and flatten it out.
- 4. Seal the container tightly.
- 5. Label it with freezing date, use-by date, and the amount (if necessary).
- 6. Transfer the package into the freezer.
Remember that frozen foods need to be continuously frozen at 0 °F (−18 °C) or lower. Thus, spare a few minutes to regularly check your freezer’s temperature and set it to the recommended temperature.
How To Defrost Frozen Half-and-half
To defrost frozen half-and-half safely, you can simply place it in the fridge.
As mentioned earlier, half-and-half tends to separate after thawing. Once it’s thawed, give it a good stir to fix the consistency. But, it won’t come nearly as smooth as a fresh half-and-half.
While it doesn’t look great like that, it shouldn’t be a problem when used for baking or cooking.
Just to give you some ideas, here are delicious dishes to use up frozen half-and-half:
- Baked goods, such as muffin, cakes, cookies, scones
- Gravy, sauces, and soup
- Creamy pasta
- Ice cream and frozen desserts
- Scrambled eggs
- Casserole and quiche
How Long Can You Freeze Half-and-half?
Half-and-half retains its quality up to 3 to 4 months after freezing. Although it remains safe to use after the period above, the texture and flavor changes are more pronounced. (*)
You have plenty of options to use up your leftover half-and-half. The most typical use is pouring it into your morning coffee. Other than that, use half-and-half to substitute cream or milk, such as to make gravy and soups, added to pasta sauces, cook up creamy scrambled egg, mac and cheese, pancakes, ice cream, and baked goods.
Half-and-half stays good for 5 to 10 days in the fridge. For best quality, try to finish up the carton within 3 to 5 days. Make sure to keep the seal tightly closed after each use. Avoid storing half-and-half in the fridge door as the temperature tends to fluctuate significantly.
General signs indicating that half-and-half has spoiled are pretty similar to other dairy products. These symptoms include an unpleasant sour smell, curdling or separating liquid, and off-color. Don’t use the product if any of these symptoms is evident.
The acid in coffee is the reason why half-and-half gets clumpy or curdles. This is totally normal. It tends to happen if the half-and-half is not fresh. As long as the half-and-half is still fresh and not spoiled, the coffee is perfectly safe to drink.
Half-and-half is essentially an equal mix of whole milk and cream. If you don’t have any in the fridge, you can simply use a blend of milk and cream. If you avoid dairy, some of the best alternatives include oat milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or coffee creamer.
Similar to other dairy products, freezing half-and-half is not ideal. Thawed half-and-half tends to separate. Thus, its usage is limited to baking and cooking purposes.
Freeze half-and-half in a certain amount that’s enough for each use. For micro serving size, consider freezing it in ice cube trays.
Now that you know what to expect from freezing half-and-half, give it a try, and you don’t need to waste any leftovers.
Up next: Half and Half Substitutes
*image by frederiquewacquier/depositphotos