June 26, 2022

For Safety, Pasteurize Raw Milk At Home

Home pasteurization is a food safety measure used by some raw milk drinkers and advocated by some raw milk providers, because even if it’s produced on clean, organic farms, raw milk can contain pathogens.

Milk SplashingSo far this year, there have been five foodborne illness outbreaks linked to raw milk and five raw milk recalls:

  • Frisia Dairy in Washington state recalled raw milk on January 17, 2012
  • Family Cow Farm raw milk was recalled in January 2012 in Pennsylvania
  • In California, Claravale raw milk products were recalled on March 23, 2012
  • On April 4, 2012, raw milk and raw cheese were recalled from the Sauder farm in Pennsylvania
  • Organic Pastures raw milk products were recalled on May 10, 2012

At least 15 people have been hospitalized including six small children who contracted hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious, sometimes life-threatening condition that can cause kidney failure, seizures, stroke and coma.

That’s why public health officials recommend that pregnant women, infants, small children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems drink only pasteurized beverages.

“If you’re going to feed your family dairy products – which are very nutritious – pasteurized products are the least risky,” said Katherine Waters, Program Leader for Food Safety at the University of Minnesota Extension. “For those who insist on buying raw milk, home pasteurization is recommended over raw consumption,” she said.

As the term implies, home pasteurization is a way to pasteurize, or heat treat, milk to kill dangerous bacteria such as E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella. Pasteurizing raw milk at home will lengthen its refrigerated shelf life and improve the food safety of soft cheeses or other cultured products made from the milk.

“Pasteurization is accomplished through a combination of heat and time,” Waters said. “Although there are several combinations that are effective, the one outlined below is probably the most pragmatic way to achieve success.”

The materials needed are:

Two stainless steel pots, or a double boiler.

A long-handled stainless steel spoon.

A properly calibrated food thermometer, one that can clip onto the pot works best.

A sink full of ice.

Clean, covered storage containers. Glass is a good choice.


Fill kitchen sink with a layer of ice several inches deep

Pour the raw milk into the double boiler or into the smaller stainless steel pot and put that inside a larger pot filled with a few inches of water.

Stirring occasionally, heat the milk slowly to 161 degrees.

Stirring occasionally, hold the milk at that temperature for 15 seconds.

Remove the pot of milk from the heat source and place it into the sink full of ice.

Stir constantly until the temperature drops to 40 F.

Transfer milk to clean storage containers.

Cover and store it in the refrigerator. Home pasteurized milk can remain wholesome for up to two weeks if properly stored and refrigerated.


  1. Elizabeth says

    So if I pasteurize the raw milk, can I cool it to about 110 degrees and make yogurt?

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