I stopped by Kowalski’s the other night; usually I get groceries at the co-op but the only thing we were out of was milk so I just picked some up there. Wish I wouldn’t have been in such a hurry: I accidentally brought home ultra-pasteurized milk.
This stuff is useless. You can’t make cheese or yogurt with it because the proteins have been discombobulated (my technical term) so much that they are unable to act normally.
Why do milk producers, even from Organic Valley, ultra-pasteurize? Simple! Longer shelf-life. The milk I bought earlier this week won’t expire until the middle of April. In fact, I noticed the expiration date before I noticed the “Ultra Pasteurized” part of the label.
Yesterday I went to Target and took a look at their organic milk, and I couldn’t even find organic milk that was NOT ultra-pasteurized. Those two for some reason seem to go hand in hand at Target. I’m guessing this is the reason: people who are paying a premium price for organic milk don’t want to have to throw it out if it goes bad. So they like the longer shelf-life. Could that be it?
I don’t know, but I wouldn’t make a habit of drinking this stuff. Worst case scenario: it’s potentially-toxic junk. Best case scenario: it could be a greener alternative to milk because it doesn’t require refrigeration. I lean more towards the former: milk was meant to be drunk with its live enzymes — they are part of what make milk healthy. Standard pasteurization destroys some of these enzymes, but not enough to completely change the protein structure of the milk. Destroying them completely — sterilizing the milk — is a waste of a good live food.
Update, 1/24/2011: This continues to be a very popular post, and I know the whole raw milk vs. pasteurized milk issue is very contentious right now. Let me be absolutely clear: I would not drink raw milk unless I or a close friend owned and hand-milked the cow. However, I do think there is a qualitative difference between standard pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization, and I much prefer standard. If you live in or near Minneapolis, MN, you have access to what I consider to be the gold standard for pasteurized, non-homogenized milk: Cedar Summit Farms. One taste of their milk brings me right back to the milking parlor on Grandpa Rensenbrink’s farm.
Update, 2/27/2013: FINALLY! A study proves that milk from grass-fed cows is better for you.