Transportation Tips and the “Cold Chain”
“A fundamental tenet of handling fresh, unprocessed milk is to maintain what California Organic Pastures dairy farmer Mark McAfee calls the ‘cold chain’. This aspect of risk management begins with the immediate rapid cooling of milk after milking and continues through all the steps of dispensing, transport and storage. The ideal goal for home storage is to hold milk between 35°F and 38°F. There must be no break in the cold chain.”
This means that your milk cannot get above 38°F, even in your car on your drive home from pick-up in 90-degree summer heat. Keeping the COLD CHAIN consistent makes a big difference in fresh milk’s longevity and, obviously, taste.
Consider using something to cushion the jars inside the coolers, maybe a blanket or cardboard.
Freezer packs save you money in the long run — bagged ice is expensive! We use these freezer packs. Keep a bunch frozen and ready to go.
A good quality cooler is essential for transport. Our Extreme cooler (bought at Kmart for $50, fits 4 gallons which is 8 half gallon Ball jars) keeps ice frozen for 3 days, so the milk is safe! I like that.
TIP: If you already have a cooler that is too big for the milk, get a soft-sided freezer bag, put the milk in that with ice, then in the cooler. My soft-sided freezer bag does not keep my milk cold enough for my long drive home in the summer! To clarify: I don’t need both, I use my large cooler. I’m making this suggestion in case you already have a large cooler. If you put 4 bottles in a cooler that holds eight, you are either going to be buying a LOT of extra ice and/or your bottles will move around and break.
TIP: If you fill your own jars at the farmer’s house, take your jars cold so the farmer’s cold milk goes into a cold jar!
How to Store Raw Milk at Home
Check temp of fridge; should be 35°F, that is perfect. Milk also decreases in quality if it is too cold. You don’t want ice crystals in your milk. And you don’t want your salad to freeze. Ours is 35 degrees and we have no troubles.
Store milk in the coldest part of the fridge possible.
Use the door shelf only for the bottle in current use.
May need to place ice packs next to milk in fridge if you are having spoiling problems, especially for milk that will be stored the longest.
If thawing meat or frozen leftovers, put them around your milk jars to help keep your milk super-cold.
Promptly return bottle(s) to fridge after pouring from them.
To Freeze Raw Milk (on purpose)
Use plastic (to prevent shattering) and leave 1 in. headroom.
Freeze as quickly as possible (the coldest part of your freezer) and shake periodically during freezing to keep cream and cold distributed evenly.
To use, thaw slowly at room temp until there is just a small chunk of ice in the milk.
Shake milk often during thawing to keep it cold throughout.
Fast thawing will result in curdling and/or separation of cream from milk.
What To Do With Leftover, Soured or Curdled Milk
Here’s the fascinating thing about raw milk: it NEVER goes bad. It just becomes another food. At least, it’s never gone bad for us and we’ve used it in food and cooking for us and our pets, never a single burp! That’s our experience. So how do we use it? Like this:
Here’s how to get four foods from 1 gallon of raw milk past its prime: part 1 is here, part 2 is here.
Your dogs, chickens, and pigs will love curdled milk: we mix it with their regular food, they eat it right up.
If you don’t want to separate it, simply shake the curds and whey back together and use in your bread making for a sourdough taste. Or in pancakes, muffins, whatever you are cooking that needs liquid. Think of it like buttermilk. It can be substituted in lots of basic recipes.
That’s what we know so far. All tips and suggestions welcome!