One of the most exciting things that has happened with this blog over the past year is a large increase in the international readership. This is exciting to me as they bring a unique perspective to the discussion, contribute suggestions and ask questions that those of us living in the United States have perhaps never considered before.
One question that I’ve been getting recently, particularly from readers in India and Eastern Europe, is how to consume raw dairy safely when the cleanliness of the source is questionable.
People in these countries typically boil their raw milk first before drinking. However, the information they were reading on this blog and elsewhere about the health benefits of raw milk had prompted them to reconsider this practice. They wanted to start consuming fresh dairy in order to enjoy the significantly improved nutritional profile of milk that has been completely unheated.
What to do in this situation? I put this question to Tim Wightman, President of the Farm to Consumer Foundation and grassbased farmer extraordinaire to see what he had to say.
Three Methods for Ensuring Raw Milk Quality
If you are unsure of your raw milk source or are using it for the first time and are not yet 100% comfortable with your decision, try one or all of these methods to set your mind at ease:
- Buy only small amounts of raw milk at a time and use up within one to three days. Bacteria that cause food borne illness with the exception of Campylobactor require more than a few days to develop in the quantities necessary to cause human illness.
- Make homemade (unheated) kefir with the raw milk before consuming. If the milk is of questionable quality, the kefir won’t set right and the end result will be whey and milk solids or a very runny kefir that won’t be desirable for consumption.
- Probably the best way to drink raw milk and have peace of mind even if you are not completely sure of the cleanliness of your source is to freeze the milk for two weeks first before thawing and then drinking. Food or drink frozen for that period of time is considered safe to consume. As a bonus, raw milk that is frozen and thawed that ends up quite close to its original form with only just a few very small milk solids floating around is a good indication of quality milk.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Hi! Valuable info right here, as I’m from Eastern Europe and I really can;t vouch for the cleaniness of the whole process.
You said I can freeze it for two weeks, but wouldn’t that, just as boiling, destroy every helpful thing from raw milk? Thanks!
Freezing does not destroy enzymes and probiotics like boiling does. And, it only reduces the nutrition by a very small amount. I’ve seen some estimates at around 3-4%.
Hi, would love to know if raw, tested milk is safe for babies? i have a hub where people buy fresh produce but the mommies rather buy pasteurized milk from Spar! They are scared to death of raw milk. Then also, how do we test the cream content!? Sone of my clients (those who grew up on duary farms) says the cream is not enough when separated and tgat they’re convinced the farmer sells some of the milk as milk solids
While you can get food poisoning from literally any food, raw milk is one of the safest! My three children (oldest is 19) have only ever had raw milk in our home. Good for us for 2 decades (we’ve had raw milk from many farms over the years and even consumed while traveling internationally. No problems at all).
Even the CDC data proves raw milk is safe, although they won’t admit it. https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/government-data-proves-raw-milk-is-safe/
What about boiling raw milk? Mexico has lots of what they call RAW MILK farmers that go around the town selling milk.. however, they are told to boil at home? Does this destroy the good benefits of the raw milk?
Boiling milk does destroy all the enzymes and probiotics. It does to the milk the same thing as pasteurization.
can you make kefir out of previously frozen milk?
I read somewhere a while back in a comment someone mentioned a woman who wrote a book and told you how to test your raw milk from home by leaving a sample out and seeing if it bubbled. Supposedly then it had a high bacteria count. Does anyone know the name of this book?
I talked to a farmer about this and he said that it isn’t a reliable test.
I am curious. I haven’t had raw milk before. Should I drink it in small amounts starting out to get my body use to it?
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Juliette de Bairacli Levy would put cayenne in her questionable raw milk as a way of ensuring its quality!
I get first class raw milk from grass fed cows in one of europes absolutely best arable land regions(Vojvodina). I just cook it a couple of seconds and after cooling ready to drink and it tastes sooo delicious and much much better than any industrial options.
So I wonder, what is wrong with this and isn´t that anyhow better than the “industrial form”, even if it is “dead” product as you advocates for the raw milk assure and bacterial attackrisks are none.
Doesn´t industrial milkproduction imply cooking for several minutes and then the killing of it goes further than with just a couple of seconds ?
But the freezing option seems to be an interesting one if now raw milk is scientifically proven to be so much better than the 2 second boiled one ?
I wonder if putting silver coins in raw milk, like they did on wagon trains, would kill the bad bacteria.