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Raw milk storage...What's the best way to make the milk last?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I recently started getting raw milk (we LOVE it).  I bought a gallon last Thursday and by Sunday, it was starting to have a bit of a sour taste (still good, of course, and DS didn't seem to have any problem drinking it).  The gallon was all gone by Monday anyway, so this week, I ordered 2 gallons.  What's the best way to make the milk last without souring for a week?  Maybe I need to turn my fridge down a bit or store the milk near the back?  Or both.  Can I freeze it?  What containers should I use if I did this?  Right now, it comes in gallon glass jars & I shake it up when I get it home & then divide it into 4 glass quart jars.  Should I sterilize the jars before I pour the milk in?  Will that help it keep longer?  Can I freeze it in standard narrow-neck quart mason jars?

post #2 of 11

Freezing raw cow milk will make the cream turn lumpy, though it's worth a try - some people don't mind it.  Glass bottles frequently shatter when frozen with liquid - you'll have to use plastic.


To keep raw milk longer, check your fridge temperature and keep it as low as possible.  Store the bottles in the very back.  Fill your quarts right up to the top - less air will reduce spoilage.  And make sure it stays cold on the ride home.

Are you saying the milk turned sour after just 3 days?  I would be concerned about both the cleanliness of your bottles and how the milk is handled at the farm.  Is it a small operation?  Farms that only have a cow or two frequently don't pay enough attention to properly handling and chilling the milk.  Or they are selling you old milk.  Raw milk should last 7-14 days. 


I hope you figure it out!


post #3 of 11

Our raw milk stays good for 10-14 days so I'd question the freshness if it's souring after 3 days. Eek! Like Kelsey suggested, I store our milk in the coldest part of the fridge, right next to the vent from the freezer, in the back. We also have an extra fridge in the basement that keeps the other gallons fresh because the door isn't opening & closing all day! 


Because I only have access to raw milk every 2 weeks, I buy 4-5 gallons at a time & flash freeze a couple gallons (12-24hrs) and gradually thaw them in the fridge until we're ready to use them. If it's frozen for too long it's get clumpy & weird but I've found if it's only frozen for a few hours, it's just as good as can last a good 14 days. 

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks, ladies.  I had my days mixed up...it was actually more like 5 days before it started to seem a little "off" to me, but it was also all gone by then so I didn't see what would have happened in the next few days.  DS didn't seem to notice any difference in taste & I think I was looking for a "problem" or something different with it since it was our first gallon of raw milk.  I also realized that my fridge really wasn't turned up very cold (I've fixed that) and I did store it in the front & my kid opens the fridge ALL.THE.TIME (drives me batty).  We are getting more tomorrow so I'll try to store it a little better and see how it does.  I know it's fresh when I get it...I believe it's milked that morning or at most the night before.  I'm not concerned about the cleanliness of the farm, their storage of it, etc.

post #5 of 11

My raw milk lasts fine 14 days.  I transfer it to glass jars and store on the top shelf in the back where it's the coldest.  Raw milk should not be sour that fast.  Even left out at room temperature it takes a while to change to sour milk.

post #6 of 11

Maybe this is not really the answer you are looking for since we technically don't drink milk straight, but I make mine into yogurt and keifer and it stores longer. I have to consume my dairy cultured, so drinking it is not even something I consider.

I first skim off a good deal of the cream for making into butter or ice cream and save that up in one quart jar, and then pour the rest into other quart jars (rinsed in hot water but I don't sterilize beyond running through the dishwasher after use) and keep in the fridge. I then make a quart of keifer and a quart of yogurt one day, followed by another quart of yogurt every couple of days until I run out of milk. (For two adults, I go through one gallon a week.)

We then drink the keifer in smoothies or use it in baking pancakes or muffins (use as you would buttermilk), and of course just eat the yogurt daily for the probiotics.

(My next project is to learn how to make cottage cheese!)

post #7 of 11

I buy in 1/2 gallon sizes and freeze it. As a pp said, the cream does not fully mix back in and you get itty bitty bumps of cream when it's thawed, but that doesn't seem to usually bother dd and I only drink it in smoothies.


You can freeze in any kind of glass so long as you have left an inch or two of neck room for air/expansion. Occasionally, you'll lose a jar if it's old, but otherwise it should be fine.

post #8 of 11

I keep my gallon jars unopened in the coldest part of the fridge until I need it.  Then I open and skim the cream - I use it right away or make butter.  Then I pour part of our gallon jar into a 2 quart glass jug with lid and the rest into a 1.3 quart canning jar for the freezer - there is lots of headroom for freezing.  By taking most of the cream off, it avoids the lumpiness of frozen cream in the milk - my kids will drink the frozen then thawed milk if I skim it, though they prefer fresh.


I find that the milk will get that sourish tang faster if it is left out of the fridge - my kids are bad for doing this and a half hour here or there does add up.  


I've been regularly using Bernardin 1 or 1.3 quart canning jars for freezing and storing raw milk for a couple of years.  In that time, I have lost maybe one jar to breakage.  When I tried other glass containers, the breakage was much worse.

post #9 of 11

I've noticed that if I have, say, 2 bottles of milk bought the same day, one opened & one unopened...the opened one will start to sour after however many days, but when I finally open the other bottle, it's still fresh (meaning: not sour tasting).  So, it seems exposure to air has something to do with it, too.  The more air in the container, the more likely it was to start tasting sour as well.  I used to get milk in 1 gallon plastic jugs, & would squish out as much air as I could every time I recapped it; this seemed to help, though DH thought it was strange.  He doesn't noticed it's getting sour anyway - I'm hyper-sensitive to those beginning sour notes; I have no problem cooking with it then (if there's a good amount for some reason, I'll make a batch of pudding or something - souring milk doesn't seem to work well for yogurt-making for me), but I can't, say, use it in coffee or cold breakfast cereal (which I don't eat anymore anyway).


The farm I go to now sells their milk in half-gallon plastic jugs, which works better for me than the full-gallon jugs.  I adore raw milk, and it's hard for me to make the open half-gallon last as long as I'd like it to (it's expensive & we're beyond poor)!  But I don't have a problem with the unopened bottles, esp if I keep them to the back of the fridge (top shelf is supposed to be the coldest - I lay the extras on their side on the top shelf).  Like I said, the unopened bottles will probably still be pretty fresh-tasting when you get to them; I don't think I've ever been able to make an unopened bottle of milk in the fridge start to sour.  I know it's possible, I just haven't been able to do it. ;)  As others have mentioned, you can freeze it & it's better to skim the cream if you do, but even so it can be sort of clumpy when it thaws - whizzing it as a smoothie/milkshake helps.

post #10 of 11

When I purchase my raw goat's milk, it is already frozen. I purchased two gallons of it too, yet it is only I who drinks it in my house (which is A OK for me!). I keep one half gallon on hand, and the rest frozen. It is a good way to save raw milk without it going sour. I don't know what will happen to raw cows milk after you freeze it, but goat's milk tastes just the same once it's thawed and liquid again. Hope this helps!

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the thoughts, ladies.  I've started sterilizing my mason jars before I pour the milk into them and making sure they are stored at the back of the fridge on the top shelf and it's been lasting much better.  

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