What’s the Deal with Ultra-Pasteurized Milk?

Q. I would like to hear more about ultra-pasteurization of milk. I have noticed that organic milk does not spoil as fast as non-organic milk. Is it the ultra-pasteurization? And why is organic milk ultra-pasteurized while regular milk is not?

A. Ultra-pasteurization, which heats milk to 260 degrees F. as opposed to the 160 degrees F. required for regular pasteurization, triples the shelf life of milk. Most big-brand organic milk is now ultra-pasteurized, so that’s probably why you’ve noticed that it doesn’t spoil as quickly as normal milk.

As to why the ultra-pasteurization process has been widely adopted by the organic market and not the conventional milk market, I can only speculate. Perhaps it’s because organic milk is more expensive and people want to see that longer shelf life? More likely, it’s because conventionally produced regular milk is more likely to come from local or regional dairies whereas most of the organic milk you see in supermarkets comes from a small handful of large suppliers. Because it’s shipped all over the country, it needs a longer shelf life.

Personally, I think that ultra-pasteurization gives the milk a flat, stale taste. Where I live, we have a small organic dairy that does not ultra-pasteurize their product. It’s only good for about a week and a half but, personally, I’d just as soon drink my milk fresh rather than have it sitting in my fridge for 6 weeks! Plus it comes in those cute glass bottles!

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Related Content: Pros and cons of raw, unpasteurized milk

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5 thoughts on “What’s the Deal with Ultra-Pasteurized Milk?

  1. I have become addicted to non-homogenized milk from a farm that “gently pasteurizes” their milk. They don’t specify a temperature, but it actually LOOKS “cream-colored” – in fact it made me realize that’s why “cream” even exists as a color!

    The other day I was too early to get to the store that sells the non-homogenized milk but I already knew I didn’t really want regular milk either.

    I was trying to avoid ultra-pasteurized simply because of what all is said about it. I bought some whole milk that says it is from cows that are allowed to roam, etc. If not healthier, at least more humane.

    However, I missed the “ultra-pasteurized” note on the carton.

    I had a bowl of cereal expecting it to at LEAST taste like regular whole milk…

    NOPE.

    Tasted like skim! Gross.

    I would rather buy regular crappy “Great Value” milk than ultra-pasteurized (speaking purely of flavor!).

    Never again. Especially considering that it costs MORE to get many of those organic, ultra-pasturized milks than even the non-homogenized stuff I’ve been buying.

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