How to Buy and Store Raw Milk
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How to Buy and Store Raw Milk

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How to buy and store raw milk

Many of our customers are families, couples, singles who are thinking they don't want to drink the milk from the grocery store anymore and would rather buy milk from a dairy farm or goat farm where they can actually see where the milk is produced. This country is still dotted with small family farms that are beginning to realize it is more profitable for them to sell raw milk directly to the consumer than to the milk trucks they actually have to pay to have come to their farm to pick up their milk for the large milk producers.

Granted in many, many states it is illegal to sell raw milk and we are not getting in that discussion as there are others rightly fighting that fight, namely the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund. What we want to help with is once you have found a farm to buy raw milk some of the questions you should be asking and what to look for when coming to the farm.

This is based on our personal experience. A comment area is below so if you have suggestions or an experience you want to share or questions (that we hope we can answer) please leave a comment.

Milk License or not

We suggest that you thoroughly research the farm where you intend to get raw milk. As we said in some states it is illegal to sell raw milk and farms will try to circumvent the law by offering cow shares. Even though the farm is unable or unwilling to get a milk license from its state doesn't mean it shouldn't still adhere to the most stringent sanitary conditions. Look for that when you visit. If the farm is able to get a milk license than the state will visit on a monthly visit or so to check conditions and do tests on the milk. That is all well and good but use your best judgement and look around at the conditions for yourself. How is the milk stored? Can you see in what condition the cows or goats are living? Where are the animals milk? More often than not the farmers are drinking the same milk they are selling to you so they won't want anyone in their family getting sick either. But take a look around anyway.

Fill while you wait

When you do visit ask if they will fill your container while you wait. If that isn't possible can you provide your own containers and have them pre-filled before you come? Some farms aren't able to have someone meet you when you come and will provide an area where the pre-filled bottles will be stored for pickup. If this is the case is the milk kept in a refrigerator at the right temperature? How long before you are to come is the cow or goat milked and the milk placed in the refrigerator? Both cows and goats are milked twice a day so which milking are you getting in your bottle? Granted you can't get milk any fresher, certainly fresher than what you were getting in the grocery store, but this is raw milk and and its handling is important.

Keep it cold and dark

We would travel about 30 minutes each way to get milk from an Amish farm in PA. Even on the coldest of days we would bring a soft sided cooler with ice packs so that on the return trip the milk was kept cold and dark. Once home it was put in the very back of the fridge nearest the cooling element so it was again kept cold and, when the door to the fridge was closed, dark. That gave us the best shelf life for the raw milk. You never want to keep milk in the door of the fridge. Just a few degrees warmer, and if you have children in the house, open to the light and warmth of the kitchen more times than you can count, it will spoil just a bit faster. We normally got 7 days before the milk would spoil. But I have spoken to customers of this website and they have gotten even 15 days. If you are getting less than 7 days be sure you are keeping the milk cold, its transport is cold and dark, and you know the date the cow or goat was milk so you can count accurately regarding the life of the milk.

Your bottle or theirs

The Amish farm we traveled to provided the plastic gallon jugs you see in the grocery store. Besides the obvious BPA in that plastic we hated that each week we were adding to the land fill and try as we might couldn't get it clean enough to bring it back to be refilled (and we tried). So we started bringing our own glass milk bottle. We made sure it was clean via a wash in the dishwasher. And we were sure to dry it before capping it (no possibility of mold) for the trip to the farm. We took responsibility for washing the bottle each time so we knew we started with a clean bottle. This is most important. Any residue from a prior use that isn't removed has the potential to spoil the milk even faster or worse. We also tried using different size bottles. When two of the family were drinking the milk it was gone in 5 to 7 days so a half gallon bottle was the obvious choice. But once it was only one of us we moved to quart bottles so that a lesser quantity of raw milk was exposed to the air at one time. Also since we brought our own bottles we paid a bit less for the milk since the farm didn't have the cost of providing the container.

Leave a comment

Please, if you have an experience similar to or different from ours leave a comment so that others can learn. And if you have a question we will try our best to answer it or point you in the right direction.

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