Food: Milk, Milk, Milk!

Looking at grocery shelves, Milk comes in a number of varieties.

Fresh vs. Long-life

  • Fresh Milk is found in the cold section. Shelf life is definitely shorter.
  • Long-Life Milk is found in another section. Unopened, shelf life is definitely longer ( 6 months or more),  just check expiry dates. Once opened, consume within the week.

Pasteurized vs Unpasteurized (Raw or Bath Milk)
Louis Pasteur invented this process of heating milk (to a minimum of 15 degrees) to destroy harmful microbes. This also kills most bacteria which cause spoilage, thereby prolonging shelf life.

Heating can be High-temperature, short-time (HTST) which provides a refrigerated shelf life of 2 -3 weeks.
Heating can also be Ultra-heat treatment (UHT) which provides a refrigerated shelf-life of
2-3 months and can be stored unrefrigerated up to 9 months.

A number of health advocates consume Unpasteurized Milk or Raw Milk. It's very believable that some beneficial enzymes and nutrients are destroyed when milk is heated. Those who grew up on farms having raw milk as a natural practice can testify that there is nothing dangerous about drinking natural, untouched raw milk so why not have it that way still?

Some resources:

  • This discusses some benefits of having raw milk.
  • Dr Axe also discusses benefits here.
  • The CDC gives some caution on drinking raw milk.
  • The FDA clarifies some myths regarding pasteurized milk. For one, it does not destroy or diminish nutrient content nor does it cause lactose intolerance.

Homogenised vs. Unhomogenised
While pasteurization solves the issue of safety, the homogenization process deals with taste and consistency. Homogenization prevents cream from rising to the top. The end result is milk without the cream layer. The process also helps prolong shelf life. Unhomogenised milk has your cream separating and collecting at the top of the container because milk fat is not broken down in order to stay suspended in the milk.

See this insightful article on Pasteurization vs Homogenisation.

Debates about milk safety and nutritional advantage are ongoing. Some people are for pasteurization and homogenisation. Others are not. If you've grown up taking unprocessed, natural milk, then it may just be safe for you to keep consuming milk the way you do. However, caution must be taken when shifting from heated milk to raw. Make sure you get dosed up with probiotics before making the shift and make sure to purchase your raw milk from trusted suppliers.

Cold-Pressed Milk
Cold-pressed milk may claim to be raw but it isn't. It is however, the closest you can get to consuming raw milk safely. In stead of being subjected to heat for eliminating bacteria, the technique uses cold pressure to kill harmful bacteria in milk.

Some Resources:
An article on cold-pressed milk by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Made by Cow (Aussie Company) talks about their raw milk.
An article on Made by Cow, Australia's first cold-pressed milk product company.
NSW Food Authority clarifies that cold-pressed milk is still highly processed milk.

Permeate-Free Milk vs Enriched Milk
Some consider these opposites. While Enriched Milk has adds nutrients like protein and calcium during pasteurization, permeate-free milk labels guarantee consumers that they get nothing other than pure milk.

UF (Ultra-Filtration) Milk is a kind of enriched milk which has added protein and calcium. Modified milk is also enriched milk, examples of this type are iron fortified and low-lactose milk. Fortified milk is enriched milk and often has added Vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Some resources:

  • Nutrition Australia explains permeate to be a natural component of milk.
  • Endeavor College of Natural Health quotes Dietitians Association of Australia in explaining that nutritional differences between permeate milk and permeate-free milk is minimal, the process is just about the same. Choosing between the two would only be a matter of preference.

Other Types

Regular, Full-Cream, Whole Milk
Is pure 100% milk and is not actually fatty. Average milk fat content is below 4%

Low- Fat, Reduced-Fat, or Light
On average is about 2% in milk fat. Some have added protein and calcium content. Some consider this type to be semi-skim milk.

Skim Milk
Lower in calories, the process has almost all of the cream removed. It is much lower in calories compared with full-cream milk. On average, less than .20% milk fat remains.

Is often used for baking. It is tangy in taste as a starter culture is added during pasteurization.

Lactose-Free milk
Is best for the lactose intolerant. This type is 100% milk with lactase added to it. Lactase is a natural enzyme found in the body that helps the digestive system absorb milk. The addition of lactase helps break down sugar in milk facilitating easy digestion among lactose intolerant people.

Some helpful info:
Keep milk away from heat and sunlight as this hastens spoilage and destroys vitamins.
Once opened, Milk can usually remain good for 10 days.
Ensure milk cap is tight as it tends to absorb other flavors inside the fridge.
Milk can be frozen. However, it may curdle when thawed.


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