Farm Fresh: How to Keep Your Milk Fresh For Longer
There’s something magical about the first sip of milk from a fresh new carton – the cool, rich freshness of that all-natural dairy goodness. Unfortunately, like all good things, that freshness can’t last forever. But with a little bit of insight into why milk goes bad, and some tried-and-true strategies for optimal conservation, there are ways to keep that delicious taste of freshness going, and to make each carton last just a little bit longer.
From Sweet to Sour: Why Does Milk Go Bad?
First, we need to refine our terminology; milk that has “soured” has experienced fermentation by lactic acid bacteria. Since this doesn’t occur at refrigerator temperatures, milk that develops an unpleasant colour, odor or taste, but that has remained chilled (e.g., has not been left out) is simply considered “off.”
Milk naturally contains certain forms of bacteria. Harmful microorganisms are killed off during milk production by the process of pasteurization, where the milk is heated to regulated temperatures to ensure that it is safe for consumption (note: this process is not undergone by “raw” or unpasteurized milk).
The remaining bacteria – including probiotics – are actually quite helpful in promoting a healthy digestive tract, as they help us to process and break down milk and other foods. Unfortunately, since the efficacy of these bacteria lies their ability to break down milk, certain steps need to be taken to ensure that they don’t start working until after they’ve left the jug. It all starts with getting milk processed promptly, and ensuring that it stays cold the whole time.<pThe Need for Speed
A big part of ensuring milk freshness happens even before you make your dairy purchase at the grocery store; it happens when milk haulers make their collections and get that dairy mooooo-ving from the farm! To make sure that you get the most out of your milk, haulers make pickups every 24 to 48 hours, testing and evaluating for quality, ensuring safe and refrigerated transport, and delivering a constant supply of milk to labs for processing. That means that the whole process, from cow to shelf, normally takes only about 2-3 days. Less time in transit means a longer life in your fridge!
Tips for Longer Lasting Milk
So what can you do to keep your dairy fresher for longer?
- Store your milk in the fridge – not on the door. The door is the warmest part of the refrigerator, and its temperature fluctuates, so it shouldn’t be used for things that should stay consistently cold, like milk. Move the ketchup and mustard bottles to the door, and keep the jug in the back.
- Keep the Jug in the Fridge. Milk warms when it is left out, so do your best to serve milk from the fridge, and put it back as soon as you’re done. Leaving it out on the counter or dinner table may make serving more convenient, but it won’t do you any favors when it comes to making it last.
- Switch to whole milk. The lower levels of fat in low-fat and far-free milk can make “off” flavours much more noticeable, so if you’re really having a hard time finishing a jug, try switching to a higher-fat milk for a longer lasting fresh taste.
- You Can Freeze Milk! If you need to, you can freeze milk for up to 30 days. Just be sure to thaw milk in the fridge – not on the counter – and it should taste just as fresh as the day you bought it. Great news for anyone who likes to save by buying larger volumes at a time!
The most important thing to remember for long-lasting milk is to keep it cool and to enjoy it promptly. Milk is best enjoyed fresh, so drink up and replenish your supply regularly to always enjoy it at its finest. You can trust that milk haulers are doing their part to get the freshest, highest quality milk to stores for you to enjoy.