Freeze-Drying Human Breast Milk

Human Breast Milk (HBM) is undoubtedly the best thing for newborn humans.  Mom produces this perfect food with all the basics, such as water, vital fats, proteins, and even some carbohydrates for rapid weight gain.  Additional benefits come from the other essentials she provides.

Antibodies protect the baby from bacteria and viruses.  Enzymes are elements that speed up reactions and make growth faster—they make digestion faster, cell-growth and production faster, blood coagulation faster—all the essential elements for a baby to grow in a healthy way.

The white cells (leukocytes) she provides in HBM “educate” the baby’s immune system so this protective network knows what it needs to fight, whether it is an infectious disease, or a foreign invader.  She also provides growth factors, hormones, and stem cells, along with vitamins and minerals.  That’s why human breast milk is called “Liquid Gold”!

Vanishing Natural Resources

At first Mom makes a lot of milk, far more than one infant could need.  Over time, that production diminishes, particularly if the baby switches to food supplements like PABLUM™ as they begin to ween off milk and start on these valuable early “solid” foods.

Storing that excess production now helps later when production is lower.  And there is always the case of the stay-at-home Dad who does his job by Skype or Zoom meetings, while his wife has a job that requires physical presence whether she is a waitress, car salesperson, doctor, or a corporate lawyer.  When Dad can mix up food on a moment’s notice, everyone’s life is easier!

How Do You Do It?

Now, on to the gentle preservation method of freeze-drying, also referred to as lyophilization, which safeguards the nutritional quality of that valuable human breast milk.  By carefully extracting moisture from the milk, this process stops microbial growth and enzymatic activity.  Within this guide, we explore the process of freeze-drying HBM, allowing you to securely store this invaluable resource for years at a time.

When human breast milk (HBM) is freeze-dried after being frozen, it becomes a convenient powdered form without losing its nutritional benefits.  Stored carefully in individual, durable Mylar™ bags that protect it from oxygen, moisture, UV light, and other contaminants, this shelf-stable HBM can last for up to ten years!  However, the nutritional potency gradually diminishes after 3-4 years of storage.  It can still be used, of course, since it doesn’t “go bad”, for example it can be sprinkled on breakfast foods, or in homemade blender smoothies, or used in soups. 

The practice of freeze-drying HBM has been around since the 1950s, especially in donor banks, to preserve vital antibodies and nutrients.  So, rest assured, it's a reliable way to keep all the goodness locked in!

In addition, the simplicity and convenience of freeze-drying HBM at home stands in stark contrast to outsourcing the process to commercial facilities.  Why? Because it lets you avoid the stunning cost of roughly $1.25 per ounce, for that preservation, or sometimes even more.  By using your own freeze dryer, the entire process becomes another way to exploit your personal machine and save big bucks!

Let’s Begin

To bring freeze-drying HBM to life in your own kitchen, start by gathering your milk and freezing it in flat bags.  Collect a sufficient quantity to freeze right away.  You don’t want to store it in the refrigerator for days in liquid form since that gives it time to deplete its nutrients. 

Aim for a consistent thickness similar to a 9-volt battery laying down, or less, to ensure even drying.  Once frozen, you can hold onto it until you have enough to run a whole batch through your freeze-drying machine.

Sterilize your freeze dryer trays, of course; silicone liners make it easy to get every spec of the end-product when you’re done.  Once your trays are ready, slide the frozen milk onto them, pop the trays inside your machine, and fire up the freeze dryer following your usual method.  It usually takes about 24 to 36 hours.

Once it's all done, wash your hands and transfer the freeze-dried milk to a new (hence sterile) Ziploc bag.  It’s very important at all stages not to introduce and sort of contamination that could shorten the lifespan of the product.  Crush the big flakes into a fine powder using a hand roller.  Then, pack the powdered milk into Mylar™ bags.  Don't forget to add an oxygen absorber to each bag before sealing them up tight, squeezing out any extra air to keep it fresh.  If you happen to own a vacuum sealer, then you are golden already.  Otherwise, you’re done!

Ready To Serve

Now, bringing the freeze-dried milk back to its liquid form is simple.  Just scoop out about one tablespoon of powder and mix it with four tablespoons of warm water and repeat that measurement until you get the desired quantity.  Give it a brisk stir until everything is well mixed.  Let it sit for a few minutes to soak up all the water, then give it another stir (or swirl in the bottle) before serving.  Super convenient!

Additionally, freeze-dried human breast milk provides a chance for generosity, enabling those with surplus supply to assist neighbors in need, especially families with healthy, full-term infants who may be experiencing milk shortages.  These acts of kindness promote community bonds and solidarity, reflecting the spirit of being good neighbors.

The Takeaway

By avoiding the damaging effects of dehydration through heating, you preserve the inherent goodness of the antibodies, enzymes, and immune-boosting factors that are present in HBM.  Dehydrators can preserve some of the qualities of the milk, but the fact is that it does deteriorate it significantly, and certainly does not provide the lengthy storage possible with freeze drying.

In the end, freeze-drying stands out as a simply the best method to preserve HBM, providing unmatched convenience, durability, and retention of nutrients.  By adopting this method, people can secure a steady supply of nutritious breast milk for their infants and lend a helping hand to their communities during challenging times.

Check out all the freeze dryer models, and if you have any questions just leave us a message!

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