Recently we got the chance to stop and get fresh milk. We live in the rural countryside of Germany and the farmlands are everywhere. There are a couple spots somewhat near to us that offer these milk vending machines where you can get fresh milk. Not only is seeing this happen up close, it’s such a fun experience to use the vending machine, and then look around at the other goodies offered. In our area a liter of fresh milk was 1 Euro, 10 fresh eggs (from that morning!) we’re 3.50 Euro, apple chips were 2.50 Euro, and a jar of honey was 5 Euro. You are able to either bring your own milk bottles or purchase from them (I think to purchase was about 2 Euro, plus the Euro to fill them up). We had a fun little time filling our jars (we recycled 3 from our store-bought milk), saying high to the cows, and just generally looking at the different offerings and set up.
One catch, it is Raw Milk. And by saying Raw Milk, what I mean is Unpasteurized Milk.
There isn’t really anything inherently wrong with raw milk, you can certainly drink it if you would like to, and in some cases it may actually taste better than store bought milk. BUT it basically hasn’t been “purified” of any bacteria or diseases that the cow may have or may have consumed prior to being milked. Again, each person is able to make the decision as to what they wanted to do, but for us, with our children being the main milk consumers in our house, I definitely wanted to pasteurize it before it was consumed.
A chance for another adventure for us!
Luckily enough, pasteurizing milk is something that you can do at home and is easy enough to do. At its core, pasteurization is simply heating the milk to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time and stirring. A lot of stirring. Once I realized just how simple and straightforward this was, I became all for it.
Monday morning, I pulled out my pot, using one of the thicker bottomed ones that already has a pretty good nonstick bottom (and that holds heat very well), grabbed a thermometer, and got to work. I used the low temp pasteurization method, which involves heating the milk to 145 degrees Fahrenheit and keeping it at that heat for 30 continuous minutes. If it falls below the 145 then you will need to start the 30 minutes over again. I erred on the side of caution, both not trusting my thermometer entirely and wanting to be extra safe, and tended to let my milk drift a little on the upward end of 145-150.
You will need to continue stirring the milk throughout the entire process as it will stick, scorch, and lump up if you do not. This means that if you choose to do this, you will need to have at minimum an uninterrupted hour of time. To do my 3 liters of milk (done 1 liter and then 2 liters), it took me about 2 ½ hours total time. Once the 30 minutes were up, the milk is then transferred from pot to a clean (sanitized) container for chilling and consumption. I think for the next round I will get a few larger pitchers or glass jars that are specifically for milk. You will definitely want to use a funnel as well to get from pot to container.
Once all three were full I put them in the fridge to cool down so the boys could drink it. I ended up filling about 2.75 liters of milk (some splashed and such) and labeled each bottle with the batch info and date for my own knowledge. It took about 6 hours or so until it was cooled to drinking temps in our fridge.
In terms of taste- neither myself nor my husband noticed any difference. We did a comparison between a store-bought jar and our home pasteurized and while they didn’t taste identical, there wasn’t a super noticeable difference either. Most store-bought milk goes through the high temp pasteurization which already gives it slightly cooked taste (not overly so and we’ve all adjusted to that taste/don’t even notice it) and ours tasted fine when compared to it.
So, would I do it again? Absolutely! It was one of those really fun adventures and things to do with the kids (they were involved ever so slightly), and you can’t get any better than fresh milk. I’m curious though, after reading about what all it entails…would YOU do it? Let me know down below!