Posted on by Alyssa

You probably know that, for the most part, milk is pasteurized. But what exactly does that mean? Pasteurization is a process that makes your milk safer for you and your family, and preserves that creamy, tasty goodness.

Pasteurized milk is milk that has been heated to a high temperature and then usually cooled very quickly. This procedure extends milk’s shelf life from a few days to several weeks or even months, depending on the type of pasteurization. High-temperature, short-time (HTST) pasteurized milk usually lasts two to three weeks when refrigerated. But ultra-pasteurized milk can last up to nine months, depending on the packaging and handling conditions.

For HTST, the milk is heated to 161ºF for 15-20 seconds, and for ultra-heat treatment (UHT), it’s brought to 275ºF for at least one second. These high temperatures get rid of the pathogens in milk that could make you sick, but pasteurization doesn’t kill all the micro-organisms (that’s what sterilization does—along with negatively affecting the taste).

Using heat, as a means of preservation is a tool that’s been known for centuries, but modern pasteurization, with the intense and immediate cooling, came about in the late 1800s thanks to French scientist Louis Pasteur (which also explains that hard-to-say name). The idea of germs had been floating around for a while, but Pasteur developed it and conducted experiments that showed him that the growth of micro-organisms was to blame for food going bad and making people sick.

Thanks to Monsieur Pasteur, the process of pasteurization eliminates 90% of the harmful bacteria in milk, and it’s the only process that can do that. It helps prevent diseases like tuberculosis, diphtheria and scarlet fever, as well as killing those nasty bugs like Salmonella.

Even so, there are many people who wouldn’t give up their raw milk for anything. While pasteurization kills the bad micro-organisms, it also kills the ones that are beneficial. Raw milk has all 8 essential amino acids, and about 80% of milk’s proteins are heat-stable, easy-to-digest caseins. It also has proteins and enzymes that help you absorb essential minerals and can protect against other dangerous bacteria.

Whether raw or pasteurized is your cup of tea (er… milk), cow’s milk is full of nutrients and protection against disease. So go ahead and knock back a cup of the white stuff!

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About Alyssa

Alyssa is a French major who loves all things France (obviously). She likes photography blogs, stripes, and the sound of bicycle bells. Her favorite activities include watching movies in the theater, climbing to the tops of mountains, and of course, eating cheese.

View all posts by Alyssa


3 Responses to Pasteuri-huh?

avatar Thom Zanghif says: 6 years ago

Does your blog have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an email. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it expand over time.

avatar Againstthegrain says: 6 years ago

Actually, Louis Pasteur developed the pasteurization process to prevent wine from turning into vinegar. He was very upset that the process was later used by others to ruin perfectly good fresh milk.

When raw milk from healthy, unstressed herds that are fed on well-tended grass pasture instead of manure-filled feedlots is properly collected and stored (sterile, stainless, teat-to-tank & immediate chilling), it’s as safe to drink as any other beverage. I’d never drink from a tank of of raw milk produced for the pasteurized market (it’s sure to be contaminated with pathogens), but I’ve been consuming raw milk that is produced for raw consumption for more than 5 years. Well-produced raw milk is deliciously fresh and still contains all the beneficial probiotic lactobacillus bacteria (which compete against pathogenic bacteria, btw) as well as lactase, lipase, and phosphatase enzymes needed for proper digestion and absorption of milk’s nutrients.

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