I have a couple of questions how to use fresh milk (not pasteurized) coming directly from cow in village (in traditional way, of course).

  1. How long it should be boiled before usage?
  2. Is it better to immediately boil it and store in fridge or store it in fridge and boil before usage?
  3. How long it is can be safely stored in fridge?
  • hi, welcome to Seasoned advice. I edited your title because it could have been misunderstood in the direction of recipes with milk.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 7, 2013 at 17:54
  • @rumtscho very meaningful edit. Thanks for your attention.
    – Googlebot
    Jun 7, 2013 at 18:27
  • 1
    Why do you think you need to boil it? What are you trying to achieve?
    – TFD
    Jun 7, 2013 at 21:34
  • @TFD I think boiling can kill some harmful bacteria, similar to the pasteurization process, and reduce the risk of Malta fever. Of course, I am not expert, and I do this based on common beliefs. Maybe they are just myth out of tradition.
    – Googlebot
    Jun 8, 2013 at 16:05
  • Take a look at this answer I posted in the past. Although it details how to pasteurize milk in the microwave, it should still apply in terms of temperature and length of heating time. cooking.stackexchange.com/a/24954/8305
    – Jay
    Jun 8, 2013 at 16:16

5 Answers 5


Handling raw milk is risky, and please note this information is not professional advice and is not to be taken as an authoritative response. I will, however, attempt to provide some thoughts on handling raw milk below.

Selling unpasteurized milk is illegal in some countries, and official sources usually discourage the consumption of raw milk instead of offering handling instructions (for good reason).

Also, keep in mind when you boil the raw milk you are going through a similar process as pasteurization in regards to the theory on breaking down the complex proteins and milk protein allergy. Probably even more than pasteurization since that occurs at lower temperatures. Those theories, however, aren't proven (yet) as far as I know, but you do burn some of the sugars in milk if you go above 70C.

The actual answers:

  • 2: It is better to boil first for sure. Don't store raw milk for lengths of time.
  • 3: Theoretically, if you do everything right and vacuum pack the milk, it might last a couple of weeks, but the longer it stays, the more dangerous it can get. Freezing might be a better option (we keep our pasteurized milk a couple of months in the freezer).

  • 1: I can't tell you how long to boil it for, though the last time I had fresh milk, it was kept simmering on the burner for about 5 minutes by the folks at the farm. It was also minutes after it was collected (fresher is better).

one of the safest things you can do if you're going to have raw milk, is to know the source and get it from a farm that takes care of the conditions. If you know the farm, the farmer, and the cows conditions are safe, you're more likely to be able to enjoy raw milk in peace.


As nobody seems to have a good source to official information beyond Mando's FDA link, I will tell you of my experience.

In Balkan villages where cows are held in traditional ways and not inspected by veterinarians, the accepted wisdom is that the milk has to be boiled on the day it is bought, and drunk within the next 2 or 3 days. The boiling itself is short, as boiling milk forms a large foamy head climbing up the pot. As soon as the head is formed and starts going up, the milk is taken from the fire. The milk is held outside until cooled to room temperature, then returned to the fridge (note that with newer fridges, this may not be necessary, there is a question about that somewhere on the site). The housewife also inspects the milk for signs of curdling or acidic smell before using it. If milk is just startling to turn sour, but not yet there, she may re-use it in a product where it gets heated again, for example the local equivalent of pancakes. I should also mention that in these villages, the people know each other, and they do not buy milk from farmers they suspect of having low hygiene standards.

The above practice would not be considered safe by the safety standards of the FDA, but then, the FDA is opposed to the consumption of raw milk in general. It is certainly more dangerous than buying supermarket milk, the danger of the terrible diseases like listeriosis being low but present, and it may give you an upset stomach once every few hundred glasses of milk consumed. It is a matter of personal risk preference if you want to try it or not, but among the people who consider such consumption normal, this method seems to limit food poisoning to acceptable levels.

A second, more radical stance is not to boil the milk at all. The flavor is different as opposed to boiled, and some people prefer it. This is more prevalent in Germany and some areas in France, where 1) there is stricter veterinarian control on animals, and 2) the cows are milked with a machine, which reduces the contamination of milk as compared to manual milking. In this case, the milk is refrigerated immediately upon milking, and the consumer keeps it refrigerated all the time. It is typically bought in small amounts and consumed within 36 hours of milking, preferably even less. Again, the people who do this on regular basis are the ones who buy the milk from their neighbours and have personally observed the hygienic conditions in which the cows are held. People are aware that they are handling a somewhat high-risk product, and populations at risk (e.g. pregnant women, toddlers) do not use it.

I don't have any sources about these practices beyond personal observation. Again, they seem to work out for large communities by their own safety standards, but they are unsafe by many official food safety standards around the world, especially US ones. If you want to do it, it is on your own risk.


I have found a credible guide to home pasteurization from the South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension.

They recommend purchasing a home pasteurization machine (link is just an example) as the best method; but, failing that, provide methods for stove top pasteurization.

See the PDF linked above for complete details. For example, using a double boiler, you raise the temperature of the milk to 140 F for 30 minutes, then rapidly cool it and store it in a sanitized container.


First you want to make sure that your raw milk comes from grass-fed cows. Satisfying this requirement, and also making sure that the cows do not live abusive lives, in poor conditions, such as in minimal amounts of space and so on (as the ones of the dairy industry), there will be nothing to worry about it. There is some superstition about raw milk but, in fact, according to different specialists, industrial pasteurized milk is more likely to make you ill than raw milk. I used to drink raw milk without boiling at all. This way you keep several healthy proprieties of it. But it goes bad very quickly. The most traditional way is to boil since you have the opportunity thus increasing its life in your fridge.

Here are two links which help demystify raw milk: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/14/mark-mcafee-raw-milk-update.aspx



I milk one hundred cows every morning and night with my husband. We only consume raw, unboiled milk. As long as the cows are NOT milked by hand there is no need to boil. The use of stainless steel equipment and milk cooling equipment ensures the milk quality and everyone's safety. Also, I keep our raw milk in a glass pitcher on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator for three days before replacing.

  • 1
    "As long as the cows are NOT milked by hand there is no need to boil." This is simply not true. Pathogens like Listeria are known to survive on milking equipment, and normal sanitation routines do not guarantee safety. That's the reason pasteurization is used around the world; if one could guarantee safety just by cleaning milking equipment better, we'd do that instead. Now, how much of a safety concern depends on various environmental factors (for example, Listeria is often conveyed in contaminated feed), but simply saying "if you don't milk by hand, you'll be safe" isn't accurate.
    – Athanasius
    Jan 16, 2016 at 19:39

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