Everything You Need to Know About Milk

Cow's MilkWhat happens to milk before it gets to you?

Most milk products sold in grocery stores in the United States are both pasteurized and homogenized. Though these terms tend to go together, they represent very different processes. Pasteurization is the process of heat processing a liquid or a food to kill pathogenic bacteria to make the food safe to eat. It is important to note that foods can become contaminated even after they have been pasteurized. Homogenization was developed to give milk a balanced consistency, eliminating the need to shake it before drinking.


What is “homogenized” milk?

Homogenization is the process of breaking down the fat globules in milk so that they stay integrated rather than separating as cream. Homogenization damages and denatures the milk. It is getting more common to find milk that’s pasteurized but not homogenized. Sometimes it is labeled “cream-top.”


What is “pasteurized” milk?

HTST (High Temp Short Time) pasteurizerPasteurization of commercially sold milk is required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ensure that harmful bacteria in milk are eliminated. Standard pasteurization methods utilize high-heat, high-volume methods. Some milk is even ultra-pasteurized to the point that it can be stored without being refrigerated. Two types of pasteurization processes are commonly practiced in the United States:


High Temperature, Short Time (HTST) Pasteurization: is the process of heating milk to a required minimum temperature of 161°F (72°C) for 15 seconds. It gives the milk an approximate shelf life of 16 – 21 days from the date it was packaged. This method is referred to as ‘pasteurized’ on the milk package.


Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) Pasteurization: is the process of heating milk to approximately 280°F (138°C) for just 2 seconds and then chilling it back down rapidly. It allows milk to be stored without being refrigerated and creates an extended shelf-life of up to three times the length as HTST pasteurization. This method is referred to as ‘ultra pasteurized’ on the milk package.


Unlike standard pasteurization, which is designed to handle huge volumes of milk at high temperatures, Batch pasteurization or Low-Temperature, Long Time (LTLT) pasteurization heats the milk at lower temperatures but for a longer length of time. As part of the process, the milk is held at 145°F (63°C) for 30 minutes. It is normal for milk to last 10-18 days. The lower temperature allows milk to retain more of its nutritional value than other methods of pasteurization.


Which milk is best to buy?

Cow's Milk

Milk that 

– Comes from A2 cows

– Comes from grass-filled pastures, preferably organic.

– Contains no additives or added hormones.

– Contains full-fat cream that naturally separates & rises to top.

– Is minimally processed and left in its natural state.

Raw milk is the milk that hasn’t gone through any processing. It can be difficult to find raw dairy products, but some stores are starting to carry more of these products. If you can’t get raw milk, low-temperature pasteurized is the closest to raw milk.


Where can I find real raw milk?

The best source of fresh raw milk is from predominantly A2 cows grazing on grass-filled pasture. In the US, there are only a few states which allow the retail sale of raw milk. Visit www.realmilk.com to find local vendors selling raw milk in your area.


Ayurvedic Tip: How to drink raw milk?

According to Ayurveda, milk that comes from from A2 cows should be used for daily consumption. Always boil the raw milk before consuming. Drink it warm as a meal on its own in the morning.


Related: 3 Health Reasons To Try Cast-Iron Cooking


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About Preeti Gupta

Preeti Gupta is a classically trained Ayurvedic Practitioner practicing in the Bay area. She provides personalized Ayurvedic counseling sessions and monthly group wellness events that focus on balanced diet, healthy nutrition, natural detoxification, rejuvenation and disease prevention. She is passionate about using food as a medicine, and she looks forward to being part of your Ayurvedic journey soon!