When you stop buying store-bought milk and switch to raw milk, the question, “How long does raw milk last?” will eventually be one that you need to know the answer to. Raw dairy products don’t provide you with an expiration date, so this answer is very easily debatable.
Raw milk is a living food. It is full of beneficial bacteria, vitamins, and more that are great for your health. These things are destroyed once having a heat treatment. Raw milk sales are different across state lines in the United States. For instance, one state might allow anyone to sell raw milk while the state right next to it allows zero sales.
To ensure the best quality of milk, make sure you talk to the local farmer you are receiving the milk from and ask about their handling and sanitation steps. If you are looking to find a raw milk source, here are some tips.
How Long Does Raw Milk Last
Here’s the quick, short answer. It basically never expires.
Now, you are probably thinking, “That’s impossible. You’re wrong.” But, hear me out.
You are correct in saying that after a certain amount of time, the milk comes undrinkable. It will obviously taste different and change texture. So, the next answer would be that raw milk does not expire, it just turns into a different product. If you are looking to just drink a glass of milk, the shelf life of raw milk is approximately up to two weeks. Assuming that milk is coming from a cow and has been properly handled. Some things do affect that 2 week mark, such as the temperature of the milk. If raw milk is stored in higher temperatures, the lactobacilli will work faster, causing the shelf life to diminish.
What Happens To Raw Milk After 2 Weeks?
Once raw milk is past the “drinking zone,” it can be made into different milk products. This can be a product you make yourself or a product that the raw milk will turn into on it’s own, naturally.
*This is what happens with cow’s milk. Goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, and any other type of milk will be a bit different.
Let’s start at the beginning. As soon as the fresh milk comes out of the milk cow, it will be brought into the house, strained, put into glass jars, and then set in the fridge. Within a day, the cream will have risen to the top. Don’t let the cream go to waste! Separate the cream and use it for things like homemade coffee creamer and homemade butter.
If the milk is left on it’s own, undisturbed, it will turn into sour milk, hence sour cream. After it turns sour, it turns into yogurt. Eventually you just get different raw milk products.
What Can You Make When You Don’t Want To Drink It?
The next time that you have raw milk that doesn’t exactly taste great to drink or maybe you just have an abundance of milk from some dairy cows, there are a bunch of different products that can be made. It is a whole different world compared to store-bought dairy. When buying dairy from the store, you are limited to certain products.
Here are some different raw milk products that can be made:
- Coffee Creamer
- Greek Yogurt
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
- Ice Cream
- Cottage Cheese
- Soft Cheeses
- Hard Cheeses
And there is probably more that aren’t even on this list!
How do you keep raw milk fresh longer?
There are some things that can be done to ensure raw milk gets the long shelf life of 2 weeks on up that you are looking for. First, make sure the cows udders are very clean before milking time. When the milk comes out, it is best to milk into a stainless steel bucket. If you will be milking more than one cow, having some way to cool down the milk right away would be a good idea. That way the first cow’s milk doesn’t sit there too long.
When bringing the milk back to the house, strain the raw milk into glass jars. Then, cool the milk as quickly as possible. The best way to stop harmful bacteria from growing is to get it cooling fast. After getting the milk into the fridge, clean and sanitize all milking equipment thoroughly.
How do you know when raw milk goes bad?
The smell and the taste of the milk changes as each day goes by. Once you open the jar, if it doesn’t smell sweet anymore but smells like its souring, then for best results, use that milk for baking with now.
Don’t worry if you drink soured raw milk. It isn’t completely unbearable and nasty, it just isn’t the greatest.
Does raw milk spoil quicker?
Yes, raw milk “spoils” quicker than milk that has been through the pasteurization process. Remember, it’s not actually spoiled though. The bacteria in raw milk causes it to sour quicker. That is why you normally won’t find raw milk in a grocery store.
Can you drink old raw milk?
Yes! It just won’t taste the most pleasant. Fun fact, this milk actually has more beneficial bacteria in it than if you were drinking fresh milk. So, if you are looking to soak up some good bacteria for your gut, drink some older raw milk!
How long does raw milk last unrefrigerated?
This all depends on the temperature the milk is sitting in. If it is a hot summer day, don’t expect longer than an hour. However, if it is sitting out at room temperature, it can probably sit there for about 5-7 hours before you probably won’t like the taste of it to drink.
However, let’s say you left the milk sitting on the counter. The bacteria that is naturally present in the milk and the bacteria in the environment will start to culture the milk. Assuming your milk is clean, it will turn into a yogurt type product within a few days. This is a wild fermented dairy product. This used to the way to make dairy products at home. It’s also known as clabber.