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Milk expiration dates

 
 
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 10:51 am
A while back I noticed that the milk I was buying had about 2 months to reach the expiration date. That seemed sort of weird so I started checking each time I bought milk and it wasn't some fluke. I usually buy the more expensive milk -- you know the kind where the cows haven't been given growth hormones and treated with antibiotics, so I'm not talking about economy milk.

The other day I had a milk emergency so I went over to our fancy neighborhood store and bought a gallon of milk. Mo pronounced this milk as the best ever and asked me to always buy this milk from now on. This milk came from a smallish, local dairy. The expiration date is about 2 weeks.

I asked C., the woman who owns the store, when the milk had been delivered and she told me it arrived on the previous day -- that the dairy delivers milk twice a week and they only keep a small amount on hand to make sure it is always fresh.

I'm wondering -- does this milk taste better because it's fresher or do the other dairies do something to their milk that gives it a longer shelf life and that makes it taste worse.

Does anyone have any idea?
 
sozobe
 
  3  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:02 am
@boomerang,
Oooh I just read about this. Will think about where and try to come up with a link.

But some of the bigger brand organics do some sort of superpasteurizing thing, which results in the late expiration dates but also takes out some of the nutrients (and probably affects the taste).

Very local places don't do that.
sozobe
 
  4  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:08 am
@sozobe,
I couldn't find whatever I read recently back, but this covers the same ground:

Quote:
Organic milk lasts longer because producers use a different process to preserve it. According to the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, the milk needs to stay fresh longer because organic products often have to travel farther to reach store shelves since it is not produced throughout the country.

The process that gives the milk a longer shelf life is called ultrahigh temperature (UHT) processing or treatment, in which milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit (138 degrees Celsius) for two to four seconds, killing any bacteria in it.

Compare that to pasteurization, the standard preservation process. There are two types of pasteurization: "low temperature, long time," in which milk is heated to 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) for at least 30 minutes*, or the more common "high temperature, short time," in which milk is heated to roughly 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) for at least 15 seconds.

The different temperatures hint at why UHT-treated milk lasts longer: Pasteurization doesn’t kill all bacteria in the milk, just enough so that you don't get a disease with your milk mustache. UHT, on the other hand, kills everything.

Retailers typically give pasteurized milk an expiration date of four to six days. Ahead of that, however, was up to six days of processing and shipping, so total shelf life after pasteurization is probably up to two weeks. Milk that undergoes UHT doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can sit on the shelf for up to six months.

Regular milk can undergo UHT, too. The process is used for the room-temperature Parmalat milk found outside the refrigerator case and for most milk sold in Europe.

So why isn’t all milk produced using UHT?

One reason is that UHT-treated milk tastes different. UHT sweetens the flavor of milk by burning some of its sugars (caramelization). A lot of Americans find this offensive—just as they are leery of buying nonrefrigerated milk. Europeans, however, don’t seem to mind.

UHT also destroys some of the milk’s vitamin content—not a significant amount—and affects some proteins, making it unusable for cheese.


http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=experts-organic-milk-lasts-longer

The problem I have with the local organic is that while it tastes better (I don't notice a huge difference, sozlet did), is that it goes bad pretty quickly. Have to use it up faster than we usually do.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:20 am
@sozobe,
Wow! That was fast! Thanks so much, soz.

It even answered a couple of questions I hadn't thought I had.

I bought some of those milk packs that don't need refrigeration thinking they'd be perfect for field trips, etc. Mo said the milk was undrinkable.

It explains why, when I reverted back to our regular brand, Mo declared the milk "too sweet" and asked me to buy the little store milk instead.

The milk is really expensive -- $6.50 for a gallon. Maybe the price is worth it though.....
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:45 am
@boomerang,
You're welcome!

I wish the local organic came in smaller sizes. They seem to only have half-gallons. Unless we're baking or something we usually take about 4 days to get through a half-gallon, and by the third day the local milk is starting to be a bit off (when I've had it, tried a few times with the same result, maybe I'll try again). By the fourth day it's just gross.

It's really good for those first 2-3 days though!
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Wed 23 Nov, 2011 11:53 am
@boomerang,
Too sweet -> Toot sweet -> tout suite.

My brain is weird.
0 Replies
 
 

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