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Animals | Country Kitchen

A Beginners Guide to Raw Milk

January 26, 2018

There’s a trend among small farms and health-conscious families that has been making a big comeback in recent years: raw milk. Whether you plan to stick with store-bought varieties, milk your own cow, or buy raw milk from a neighbor, there are a few things to consider before you pour a glass or two of farm-fresh milk for your family.

A Little Raw History

The act of pasteurization was invented in 1864 by a biologist by the name of Louis Pasteur. He discovered a way to eliminate harmful microorganisms (salmonella, E. coli, and more) by heating and then rapidly cooling specific foods. It was a move that helped protect people from getting sick as they moved from the country to the cities during the industrial revolution.

Pasteurization worked for milk, but not everyone or every dairy did it. Then in 1987, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services banned interstate shipment of raw milk and the Food and Drug Administration mandated the pasteurization of all milk being sold for human consumption. It didn’t mean people couldn’t drink milk from their own cows, but it did require dairies to pasteurize.

Dairies Pasteurize

As many dairies will attest, pasteurization is a good thing for business and consumers. That’s why many who own their own dairy cow also pasteurize the milk. To pasteurize your milk, simply heat it up by pouring water into the bottom portion of a double boiler until it’s half full. Then fill the top with your raw milk. Stir often and heat the milk slowly until it reaches 150º F. Keep it at that temperature for 30 minutes. Finally, cool the milk by putting the top portion of the double boiler into a bowl filled with ice until it reaches 68º F. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Raw Milk is Popular (and Legal)

If your cow, or the one producing the milk, is living in an open field, eating grass, and being milked under sanitary conditions, many people say it’s safe. It’s even legal to sell raw milk in Oregon and Washington under specific guidelines.

In Oregon, the sale of raw milk is limited to farms with 3 cows or less, as long as they sell the milk from the premises where the milk is produced. Washington is a little easier, allowing the sale of raw milk as long as the owner is licensed by the Washington Department of Agriculture, adheres to specific label requirements, and tests their cows regularly.

Those who drink raw milk site the many health benefits of skipping the pasteurization process. Because pasteurizing kills bad bacteria, it also stands to reason that it eliminates good bacteria and vitamins, including vitamin C and B1, beneficial microorganisms such as probiotics, as well as lactic acids and proteins that help fight off illnesses and infections. Raw milk has even been celebrated for helping people fight chronic conditions. Best of all, many people who are lactose intolerant can often drink raw milk because there are bacteria in the milk that break down the lactose.

Coastal tip: Get more information about owning and milking your own milk cow here.  

Weigh Your Milk Options

The CDC states that just over 900 Americans have gotten sick from unpasteurized milk in the past 10 years. While that might be a low number, deciding to give your family raw milk is a personal, fundamental choice that only you can make.

Coastal Cares

Stop by your Northwest owned and operated Coastal where you’ll find everything you need, whether you’re raising a milk cow or two, caring for horses, training puppies, or simply need rugged work clothes and hunting gear. It’s all here, including the people who understand how to use the products we stock and are happy to share their knowledge and country-knowhow with you.