Real milk

There are seven quarts of raw milk on my kitchen table, courtesy of Claravale Farm in Paicines, CA (via Whole Foods).

Claravale Farm Raw Milk


Does that mean unpasteurized? Huh, I thought that was illegal. Wonder if I can get the Park Slope Food Co-op to order that.

Unpasteurized, unhomogenized, and as yet un-illegal (in California). All of it went straight into the farmhouse cheddar I’m making this weekend.

I was going to title this post “Dangerous milk”, but I worried that some might misunderstand my humor.


Rather than consuming viable cattle intestinal bacteria, have you considered trying to grab a milk that’s been HTST (flash) pasteurized instead? Common in europe, it makes the milk less of a health risk while doing a far better job of maintaining taste and colour.


In the US I haven’t seen a labeling distinction between traditional pasteurization, where the milk is heated to 140°F/63°C for 30 minutes, versus flash pasteurization (aka HTST), where the milk is heated to 161°F/72°C for 15 seconds and then cooled rapidly. According to our local organic Straus Family Creamery, they use the HTST method, pasteurizing their milk at 170°F for 19 seconds and then immediately cooling it to 40°F or below.

I have seen a few “ultra-pasteurized” labels where the milk is heated to 280°F/138°C for 1-2 seconds. Apparently ultra-pasteurization kills the milk from a cheesemaking perspective—it simply doesn’t curdle.

I can assure you, all seven quarts went into another farmhouse cheddar I’m making, which will be aged much longer than the 60 day minimum imposed on raw milk cheeses sold in the US.

Funny sidenote: I started air drying the cheese in our oven on Sunday, and by Tuesday it had grown a nice topiary of brown fuzzy mold. Salt water scrub to the rescue! Raw milk is no joke!


How odd! In Canada, our milk says either “Pasteurized”, “Homogenized” (Called Homo millk up here), or “Flash Pasteurized”. I had always assumed that was the norm everywhere!

Just for completeness, the vast majority of our milk is also homogenized. Usually you see “Pasteurized Homogenized” at the bottom of the label. The primary exceptions are the organic Straus milk I referenced previously, the raw milk above, and Trader Joe’s half gallons of unhomogenized milk—which they market as “Cream Top” milk.

In my experience, unhomogenized milk creates a much firmer curdle than homogenized milk, and thus a much better cheese.

Note: we do not use the term “homo milk”.

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