RT Cunningham

UHT Milk vs. Dairy Fresh Milk - Differences in Taste and Consumption

UHT milk In most areas of the Philippines, as well as many other places in Asia and Europe, UHT milk is the only milk you can buy from the stores. UHT stands for either “ultra-high temperature processing” or “ultra-heat treatment”, whichever you prefer.

Someone invented UHT milk in the 1960s. It became generally available in the 1970s and I consumed my first “box” of UHT milk in 1983.

Dairy Fresh Milk

People of modernized countries don’t realize bad they really have it. Having lived in the United States most of my life, but with the opportunity to live in other countries, I can understand why no one notices.

Dairy fresh milk has a very limited shelf life requiring refrigeration and usually only for a few days. The reason? The milk is pasteurized and homogenized. UHT milk, however, has a shelf life of six to nine months at room temperature. Once opened and refrigerated, that shelf life drops to a few days, but then it’s already being consumed.

Dairy fresh milk will go bad in the refrigerator in a much shorter time, even if unopened. The modern consumer in the United States tends to throw out more spoiled milk than consumers from developing nations where distribution of dairy fresh milk isn’t practical.

The Taste of Milk

When you live in places like the United States, you tend to get used to the way dairy fresh milk tastes. It’s pasteurized and homogenized cow milk. Goat milk tastes different, as does the milk from other animals.

UHT milk tastes slightly different from dairy fresh milk, but it’s still cow milk. It doesn’t take more than a couple of days to get used to the difference in taste. I still like to drink it cold even if it’s not necessary, so I always keep a few liters in the refrigerator.

I traveled to the United States multiple times and I drank dairy fresh milk while I was there. Then I returned and drank UHT milk here in the Philippines. I hardly noticed the taste difference each time.

Pasteurization vs. UHT

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to 72 degrees Celsius (161.6 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 15 seconds. UHT is the process of heating milk to a temperature exceeding 135 degrees Celsius (275 degrees Fahrenheit) for one or two seconds.

Pasteurization takes place before filling dairy fresh milk into containers to kill most of the microorganisms that cause spoilage. The original taste is normally maintained. Although the UHT process changes the taste slightly, it kills all the spores in milk.

Drinking UHT Milk without Knowing it

Rumor has it that McDonald’s makes their deserts with UHT milk. It’s also rumored that UHT milk is the kind of milk served on planes and trains. I can’t confirm either rumor but if a milk product has a label, the type of milk you’re drinking when you inspect the label could surprise you.

There’s nothing wrong with drinking UHT milk. In my opinion, it’s safer to store and drink due to its longer shelf life. The stores here import UHT milk from Australia and New Zealand. I prefer Cowhead, imported from Australia and distributed by Ben Foods in Singapore.

Negative Reactions to UHT Milk

I’ve read a lot of negative stories about UHT milk. As usual, the negativity is about how the milk changes when it’s heated. Some people say it’s no good for cooking or baking. Well, when you cook, you’re heating the milk beyond the boiling point anyway.

It’s almost as bad as how people say microwaved food isn’t good for you because it changes the molecular structure of the food. Again, when you do any kind of cooking, you’re changing the molecular structure.

If you want to have true fresh milk and completely unchanged food, you need to drink the milk straight from the cow (like farm families do) and eat all of your animal products raw. Good luck with that.


RT Cunningham
April 28, 2018
Food and Drink