Raw milk has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s unpasteurized, meaning it has not been heated and retains its exceptional qualities – and organic goodness. But there are so many questions surrounding raw milk. How long does raw milk last? Is raw milk more prone to spoiling? And is it dangerous to drink raw milk?
We’ve researched these questions and are sharing our insights. We’ll also quickly discuss the controversial nature of organic milk, raw milk storage tips, and raw milk benefits. And also the drawbacks.
Then let’s continue!
Why We Love Organic, Natural, Raw Milk
Our friends recently bought a dairy cow, and we’ve been lucky enough to receive weekly gifts of beautiful, raw milk.
I love the taste! And the idea that it’s unprocessed and natural. But unfortunately for many homesteaders – they may never have the opportunity to taste raw milk.
Here’s what I mean. Shops aren’t allowed to sell raw milk where we live. And our homestead is way too isolated to be near a dairy farm. Even if we were near a dairy farm, selling raw milk for human consumption in Australia is illegal.
Selling raw milk is a crime! But we believe that food in its natural state is what we should be getting back to. We believe in less treatment and less interference. In other words, we believe in whole, organic food.
But even in the USA, several restrictions exist for homesteaders seeking to buy or sell raw milk. Consider the following.
- States may adopt their laws on raw milk sales.
- However, at the federal level, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bans the interstate sale or distribution of raw milk.
- All milk sold across state lines must be pasteurized and meet the US Pasteurized Milk Ordinance standards.
- Read more about USA raw milk laws by state.
Yes, there are risks involved with the consumption of raw milk. But to play devil’s advocate, many raw milk enthusiasts contend that pasteurized milk also has drawbacks.
Here’s an excellent example of a raw milk advocate who makes a compelling case for the potential health benefits of raw milk.
However, we’re not here to discuss the merit of raw vs. pasteurized milk. We’re here to research how long raw milk lasts and whether it spoils easier than pasteurized milk.
We’ll also look at the best way to store it and how to tell if it’s spoiled.
Let’s get to it!
What Is Raw Milk?
Raw milk is unprocessed milk straight from a cow or any dairy animal. It hasn’t been heat-treated, homogenized, or pasteurized. Raw milk helps make different raw milk products, such as cream, butter, sour cream, and cheese. It is milk in its perfect, natural state – how nature intended.
Raw milk contains beneficial bacteria, enzymes, micronutrients, and proteins that get damaged or destroyed during processing. Many raw milk advocates emphasize its health benefits – my favorite is this letter to medical professionals by the Raw Milk Institute.
It’s a letter you can take to your doctor to help you explain why you choose to drink raw milk if they question you. It’s hard to believe (or to think) you even have to explain, but here we are.
We also don’t deny that pasteurized milk has its merits. Raw milk can harbor harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli, and Salmonella, which can cause foodborne illnesses. However, consider the following statement.
Indeed, raw milk produced as intended for pasteurization and sourced from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) is generally unsanitary and unsafe to consume raw. Such milk production occurs in conditions where animal health is compromised, antibiotics get utilized, hormones get used to stimulate higher levels of milk production, there is an abundance of manure, and there is a correspondingly high rate of pathogens.Raw Milk Institute
However, farms that intentionally produce raw milk for human consumption differ from those that make milk intended for pasteurization. First, raw milk farmers don’t rely on pasteurization to kill bacteria. And they strive to maintain more sanitary conditions and healthier cows.
Health Benefits of Raw Milk
Besides the physical workout of milking your dairy cow, what other benefits does raw milk have?
Raw milk boasts several potential health benefits. One advantage is that it contains a wealth of natural enzymes, many of which get destroyed during pasteurization. These enzymes can help the body digest lactose, the sugar found in milk, potentially making raw milk more easily digestible for those with lactose intolerance.
Raw milk is also rich in beneficial bacteria, aiding digestion and protecting against harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. These bacteria, vitamins, and minerals naturally found in milk can support a robust immune system and overall good health.
Additionally, raw milk contains essential micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which often get added to pasteurized milk after processing. Comparatively, pasteurized milk may have reduced nutritional quality due to the heat treatment process and the removal of fat molecules during homogenization.
While it is essential to note the potential health risks associated with consuming raw milk, including exposure to harmful bacteria such as Campylobacter jejuni, raw milk advocates argue that when properly handled and sourced from a reputable dairy farm, raw milk can be a safe and nutritious option for human consumption.
We've been looking for a yummy source of raw goat milk to go along with our organic tastes. And we found this hidden gem from Laclare Creamery. It's cheddar goat cheese - aged for over 60 days. We love the simple ingredients - whole raw goat milk, cheese culture, enzymes, and salt. Try chopping and throwing some in a fresh garden salad - or dicing it and tossing some in a fresh egg omelet.
How Long Does Raw Milk Last?
Raw milk typically lasts five to ten days when properly handled and stored at 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The shelf life depends on various factors, such as storage conditions and the freshness of the milk at the time of purchase.
The shelf life of raw milk can also get influenced by other factors, such as the type of milk, the number of bacteria present in the milk, and the transportation methods used to deliver the milk.
Proper storage is crucial in ensuring that raw milk remains fresh for as long as possible. Let’s take a look!
Storing and Handling Tips for Raw Milk
Proper storage and handling of raw milk are crucial to maintain its freshness and safety for human consumption. Here are some essential tips to ensure the quality of raw milk:
- First, you should promptly store raw milk in a clean, airtight container after milking.
- Refrigerate (raw) milk as soon as possible at 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to slow the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause spoilage and foodborne illness. Proper refrigeration can extend the shelf life of raw milk to up to 10 days.
- After milking, raw milk should get protected from contamination by ensuring that all surfaces that come into contact with it are clean and sanitized.
- Proper cleaning and washing of milking equipment are also essential to ensure the safety and quality of raw milk. All necessary tools and equipment should be washed with hot soapy water before and after the milking process to remove harmful bacteria and prevent contamination.
Refrigeration and Freezing Tips for Raw Milk
Refrigeration and freezing are two methods to help extend the shelf life of raw milk while preserving its beneficial bacteria and nutritional quality.
Raw milk should store between 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge and get consumed preferably within seven days of milking. It’s essential to promptly refrigerate raw milk to slow the growth of harmful bacteria and prevent spoilage.
Raw milk freezes well and can store in the freezer for up to six months. You may notice some separation when you thaw it in the fridge, which is normal. Ensure you soften (thaw) the frozen milk in the refrigerator. That way, it stays at the correct temperature.
If you need to freeze raw milk, it should be done as soon as possible after milking to preserve its freshness. The milk should get transferred to a clean, airtight container and labeled with the freezing date. But remember that liquids expand in the freezer – so ensure your container has enough room!
Thawing raw milk should always be done in the refrigerator to prevent spoilage and maintain its beneficial bacteria. It’s important to note that freezing does not eliminate all harmful bacteria, so caution should still be taken when consuming thawed raw milk.
Signs Your Raw Milk Has Gone Bad
Raw milk is a perishable product that can quickly spoil if not stored properly. Thankfully, it’s not hard to tell when milk has turned. My go-to method is smelling it!
One of the first noticeable signs of spoiled raw milk is an unpleasant odor that can smell sour, sulfuric, or even putrid.
The texture of raw milk can also change when it spoils or turns. Spoiled raw milk may develop a slimy or gritty texture that feels unpleasant to drink. It can also have clumps of cream floating on the surface, indicating that the milk has started separating.
Another common sign your raw milk might have turned is when it tastes yucky. Spoiled raw milk can taste sour or bitter – an excellent indication that it is unfit for consumption.
Lastly, as raw milk spoils, a scum-like layer can rise to the top of the milk. This scum indicates that harmful bacteria are starting to grow in the milk.
- Here is How Much Milk You’ll Get From Your Family Cow
- Here’s How Often You Have to Milk a Goat [Once vs. Twice a Day]
- How to Make Butter From Raw Milk Step-by-Step
- Best Goat Milking Machine to Make Farm Life a Little Easier [Top 5]
Thanks for reading our guide about how long raw milk lasts.
As you can tell, we’re raw milk advocates. But we don’t deny that milk pasteurization has benefits, too.
And to make a long story short – raw milk lasts for around five to ten days.
And the best way to tell if the milk turns is to give it the whiff test. If the milk’s aroma makes your stomach turn, it’s spoiled! Is it smells okay? It’s likely good to go.
Thanks again for reading.
And have an excellent day!