Save The Food: How To Save Your Dairy & Eggs

[ This article is part of our Save The Food series on how to make the most of your food ]

Can you still use your dairy products and eggs?

  • The dairy products group includes items such as milk, cheese, yoghurt, and butter, which each have different considerations around potential spoilage.
  • The most reliable way to tell if eggs are still good to eat are to crack them open into a small bowl and examine for an off odor or unusual appearance. Use one small bowl to crack each egg into before combining it with other eggs so that you don't ruin a whole batch of eggs by cracking a bad egg into it. It's worth checking eggs in this way even if they're slightly past the date printed on the carton since they may still be perfectly safe. The float test for eggs is helpful to assess if eggs are older, but according to the USDA eggs that float may still be completely safe to eat, therefore they recommend the visual and smell test. More information here.
  • For milk and "fresh" dairy products again the smell, visual inspection, and tiny taste method are recommended. If fresh dairy products begin to turn yellowing, become lumpy or thick, or develop a sour odor it's likely time to toss them. IF you're not sure take a tiny taste and assess whether the product has become more sour, which is an indication it's no longer good.
  • For cheeses the most common cause for concerns is mold. Mold in cheeses follows the same general rule as mold on most other types of food - if it's a higher moisture, softer cheese then mold means saying goodbye to the entire piece of cheese. For firmer, lower moisture cheeses such as parmesan or asiago you can cut away mold by removing all cheese within a 1 inch radius of the mold spot. For more information on mold in food check out the USDA's handy page here.

How to save your dairy products and eggs

Freezing: Milk can actually be frozen relatively well, although it's recommended to limit the use after thawing to cooking and baking since the texture might change. Some individuals don't mind the change in texture and you can blend milk in a blender after thawing to further reincorporate it as well. Semi-firm to firm cheeses also freeze well. Again, you may not want to serve the cheese on a cheese platter upon thawing but they taste just the same in cooking or after incorporating them as part of a dish. Soft cheeses generally don't freeze as well and cheeses with a natural rind like Camembert can develop an off flavor if frozen.

Transform: One fun way to use up excess milk before it goes bad is to make Farmer's cheese. Farmer's Cheese is an Eastern European staple and somewhat similar to cottage cheese. The simple process also steers clear of many of the usual food safety concerns of making other cheeses, so while making cheese at home sounds intimidating we assure you this 3 ingredient, 30 min cheese is both safe and easy. Scale the recipe up or down depending on how much milk you have.

Incorporate: Eggs, milk, and cheeses are easy to use up if you thoughtfully incorporate them into other dishes.

  • Make a fridge clean out frittata, a country style omelette, or a quiche to use up eggs in a delicious way.
  • Try "Macaroni and Many Cheese" for a twist on the regular Mac and Cheese that allows for using a greater variety of cheese. Or try your hand at Fromage Fort cheese spread, which was invented in the french countryside explicitly for the purpose of using up cheese. Of course, the trusty grilled cheese is always there as well.
  • Make instant mashed potatoes to use up milk before it goes bad. Chocolate shakes, or hot cocoa are always options as well!

How to prevent dairy and eggs from going bad

  • The best thing to do maximize the shelf life of eggs and fresh dairy products like milk is to keep them at the right temperature. Keep these products in the cooler parts of the fridge, which is usually the bottom shelfs. Keeping milk in the fridge door is common and convenient if you're a frequent milk drinker, but it's actually not the best spot. If your milk often spoils before you can drink it all consider laying it down on the bottom shelf and check your fridge settings to make sure you're keeping your fridge between 35 and 38°F.
  • Keep cheeses in the cheese drawer or crisper drawer of your fridge and follow the recommended storage tips below based on the type of cheese.
  • Hard, aged cheeses (Parmesan, old Gouda): Wrap them in wax or parchment paper, then add a layer of plastic wrap.
  • Blue cheeses, Semi-hard, and hard cheeses (Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere): Wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Soft, semi-soft, and stinky cheeses (goat, Camembert, Brie, Limburger): Store these in a plastic container.
  • Fresh cheeses in water (mozzarella or Feta): Leave the cheese in the original package. Change the water every few days.

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