Fresh is not always best. Raw milk, which comes direct from the cow and is unpasteurized, can contain germs and bacteria that cause illness, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Pasteurization removes some of these pathogens. However, cooking raw milk is not necessarily the same as pasteurization. While pasteurization is in a sense a form of cooking, it doesn't have the same effect on the liquid. Cooked milk tastes different from pasteurized milk.
Pasteurize, Not Sterilize
Pasteurization reduces the activity of bacteria in milk. It doesn't destroy every germ and bacteria, but does lower the risk of food poisoning. Commercially available milk has usually been pasteurized by heating to 161 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. Another commercial technique known as ultra-pasteurization involves heating to 280 F for 2 seconds. This latter option is not usually something most people can do safely at home.
Keep an Even Heat
Unlike cooking, pasteurization doesn't use direct heat. So, if you were planning to cook or boil your milk, you can add it to the pan and put it straight on the stove. With pasteurization, it's better to put the milk in a bowl and suspend over boiling water. This gives you more control over the temperature and prevents over-heating. The idea is to get all of the milk to reach the same temperature at the same time.
Do It at Home
Home pasteurization of raw milk requires a cooking thermometer, a large pan, a heat-resistant bowl, a large bowl full of ice and bottles to store the milk. Sterilize bottles and equipment in the microwave or on a high temperature setting in the dishwasher before use. Boil a pan of water, then put the heat-resistant bowl on top. Pour in the milk and stir gently and constantly. Test the center of the milk with the thermometer. When it reaches 145 degrees F, maintain the temperature for 30 minutes. If it falls below 145, you'll need to restart the 30 minute countdown. Put the bowl in the ice bowl to cool as fast as possible.
Microwave cooking offer the easiest method of home-pasteurization. It involves heating the milk in the microwave oven to 165 F. You'll need a cooking thermometer to check the temperature at the center of the milk. Because microwaves can heat liquids unevenly, stir the milk several times during heating. This prevents you from getting some cool areas that have not been pasteurized. As with other forms of pasteurization, you must rapidly cool the milk and refrigerate as soon as possible.
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