Another Benefit of Organic Milk – Ultra Pasteurization
Until I began to drink organic milk exclusively, I had always considered milk one of my most perishable grocery items. That’s not the case any longer, because I buy only organic milk labeled as “ultra-pasteurized” and I never have to throw out bad milk.
If you’ve ever wondered what “ultra-pasteurized” means and why organic milk seems to last so much longer than conventional milk bought in the grocery store, you might be interested to know that the main reason is likely because organic milk is pasteurized at a much higher temperature than conventional milk. The organic variety of milk is processed differently than the regular kind you’ll find in most grocery stores, so it will often last for much longer in your refrigerator, anywhere from one to three months instead of the traditional two to three weeks you’ll get out of a conventional carton of milk.
Milk labeled “ultra-pasteurized” has been treated with the UHT method and most organic milk falls into this category. UHT stands for Ultra-heat Treated and involves raising the temperature of the milk to at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit for a mere one to two seconds, killing off any spores that might be present.
The reason this form of pasteurization is used for organic milk might be because it has had no contact with antibiotics during its production or processing. Therefore, instead of using the lower temperature pasteurization process common in the conventional dairy industry, organic dairy producers often use the UHT process. Of course, there might also be other reasons for using this method, including higher costs leading to lower turnover in the grocery store. Regular milk is less-expensive so most people do still buy non-organic dairy.
What does this ultra-high temp pasteurization mean to us as consumers? It means fewer organisms will survive the pasteurization process giving the milk its longer shelf-life. Unfortunately, it can also sometimes change the taste and smell of the product, but my personal experience says UHT pasteurized organic milk is just as tasty, if not tastier, than the non-organic variety I used to buy at the grocery.
There’s certainly another benefit to us as consumers to drinking organic milk, besides the health benefits related to not drinking something contaminated with traces of antibiotics and growth hormones. It’s the longer shelf-life of the product!