FREE SHIPPING | Orders over $200* |
Sign Up for Exclusive News + Offers
Hoegger Online Shopping Cart - Inside Your Cart

Milk Cooling- It’s So Important!

Milk Cooling- It’s So Important!

Are you getting good grades when it comes to cooling your home milk supply? One of the most important factors in great quality milk is how quickly the milk is cooled.


Milk is perfect medium for bacteria (that’s why it works so well for cheesemaking).  Unless you are doing a good job of cooling the milk to slow down the development of harmful bacteria, they can be multiplying by the millions. This is even more important if you are using your milk raw. Pasteurizing the milk kills E Coli as well as many other harmful bacteria.


How close to Grade A are your milk cooling practices?  Many of you have various ways of handling your milk and think you are doing a good job.  Have you taken the temperature of your milk to be sure that it is getting cooled quickly?


If you are at least a Grade B give yourself a pat on the back.  This rating is very good for home use.  Most of us cannot meet Grade A standards without the use of commercial coolers.


I did some milk cooling testing to find out just how quickly each method cooled the milk.  Below are the results.


Grade A:


The milk is placed in bulk cooling tanks, which are refrigerated, and the milk is quickly cooled while being stirred.  This method assures the milk will be at 40 degrees in less than 30 minutes.  Usually it is at the temperature instantly then held to just above freezing.


Grade B:


Milk is placed into containers small enough to place into tubs or a sink of ice water.  This is acceptable for home use.  This method cooled the milk to 48 degrees in 30 minutes, 42 degrees in 60 minutes and 40 degrees in 90 minutes.  Results would be considerably better if some form of stirring the milk could be used to speed up the cooling.  Using a home pasteurizer would do an excellent job too.


Grade C:


Milk is placed in a small container and placed in a sink of very cold water with the water being changed 2-3 times during the cooling process.  Water temperature from our well here in Michigan comes out at 50 degrees.  If you live in an area where the water comes from the faucet even warmer, this would not be a great method to use.  The milk would only get as cool as the water.


Grade D:


Milk is placed in the freezer.  I tested a one-quart jar and it took 30 minutes to reach 66 degrees.  In 60 minutes it was at 50, in 90 minutes it was 43 degrees and finally after 105 minutes it was at 40 degrees.  If using a container bigger than 1 quart the results would be even worse.


Grade E:


Milk placed in 1 quart jars and put into the refrigerator.  In 30 minutes the milk was at 76 degrees.  In 60 minutes it was at 67 degrees, after 90 minutes it was 59 degrees.  3 hours later it was at 51 degrees and finally after 8 hours the milk had reached 40 degrees.  This is way too long.  By now the bacteria count has become very high.  Results would be even worse if using containers bigger than 1 quart.  Many home dairies use this method, but this is the absolute worst way to cool the milk.



Hoegger Farmyard Contributer

Mary Jane Toth

Author of A Cheesemaker’s Journey and Goats Produce Too


You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. by cnighswonger
    Comment made on: July 3 2012

    Agitation is the key: we use a combination of agitation and the freezer. We milk into clean quart jars. These are taken directly to the house and filtered into other clean quart jars. The filtered milk in jars is placed into the freezer and a timer set for 15 minutes. The milk is agitated every 15 mins thereafter resulting in 40* F milk in less than 60 minutes. The milk is then moved to a refrigerator and held at ~37* F. We only rarely have trouble with “goaty” tasting milk, and when we do it is usually attributable to something other than processing.

    If you decide to use this technique, be sure not to fill the quart jars above the “shoulders” (where the jar begins to taper) just in case you forget they are in the freezer… its a big disappointment to discover your wonderful goat’s milk ruined by burst jars.

  2. by Wittygoats
    Comment made on: July 4 2012

    So my wife and I were asking each other, “why can’t we make cheese that should be heated to 80F or 85F with milk straight from the goat?”
    how do cheesemakers cool milk in areas of the world that have no refrigeration? or do they?
    basically the same question!

  3. by CaitlynMenne
    Comment made on: July 14 2012

    This is great to read the different grades and how to achieve the best quality! I put my jars if milk in a refrigerated ice batch (it’s so cold that I have to break a surface layer of ice every time), and the milk goes down to 40 degrees in an average of 25 minutes. I try to stay on top of the receding temps to maintain the quality. So far, so good!

  4. by
    Comment made on: July 18 2012

    When I was a kid I milked cows, by hand, on our family farm. We cooled the milk by freezing water in quart jars and placing then in the milk bucket, milk was cooled as it went into the bucket. After many years and miles I retired and got me a couple of dairy goats, Nubian by choice, and instead of glass jars I use plastic bottles with frozen water. I clean and sterlize the bottles after each milking. My milk is cold enough to drink by the time I get it into the house and strain it. Just my way of cooling the girls milk very fast. Any suggestions or comments most welcome.

    • by esagey
      Comment made on: July 19 2012

      This sounds like a wonderful idea. I’m a nubie though…we haven’t even started milking yet.

  5. by sammyt
    Comment made on: March 7 2013

    Wow, I never thought of putting frozen jars of water in the pail while milking. I will have to try it and see how well it works for me! Thanks so much for sharing this info 🙂 I do however take mine strait from barn to filter, to pastorizer, but instead of actully using it as a pastorizer I just use it as a cooling tank. My milk is cooled to 46 degrees in about 20 mins. Wish I would’ve thought of this last yr when I was milking, duh! My milk tastes 10x better this yr.

You must be logged in to post a comment.