How Long Does Unpasteurized Milk Last? Essential Tips for Storage and Safe Consumption

Are you someone who enjoys the taste of fresh, unpasteurized milk? Many people love the rich and creamy flavor that comes with consuming raw milk. But have you ever wondered how long unpasteurized milk actually lasts? This is a question that many people have been asking, and so we have decided to explore this topic in greater detail.

Unpasteurized milk can be a tricky item to deal with, especially when it comes to storing and preserving it. While the flavor of raw milk may be superior to pasteurized milk, it also poses a greater risk when it comes to bacterial growth and spoilage. So, how long does unpasteurized milk last? We are going to dive into the different factors that can affect the shelf-life of raw milk, and how you can best preserve it for your use.

If you are an avid fan of unpasteurized milk, then you know that this type of milk can add something special to your cooking and baking. However, it is important to understand just how sensitive raw milk is to external factors that can speed up the process of spoilage. So, before you stockpile raw milk in your fridge, it is important to learn the best practices for storing and preserving it, in order to make it last for as long as possible.

What is unpasteurized milk?

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, is milk that has not undergone the process of pasteurization. Pasteurization is a method that involves heating milk to a specific temperature for a certain length of time to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. Unpasteurized milk is collected directly from cows, goats, or sheep and is often marketed as a healthier alternative to pasteurized milk.

Raw milk enthusiasts believe that unpasteurized milk contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes that are destroyed during pasteurization. They also argue that raw milk tastes better and has more nutritional value than pasteurized milk. However, health experts warn that unpasteurized milk can contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria that can cause serious illness.

The debate about the benefits and risks of unpasteurized milk continues among health experts, policymakers, and consumers. Some states in the US allow the sale of raw milk while others prohibit it. It is important for consumers to be aware of the potential risks and to make informed decisions about whether or not to consume raw milk.

What are the risks of consuming unpasteurized milk?

While some people may prefer the taste of raw or unpasteurized milk, consuming it does come with potential health risks. Here are a few dangers associated with the consumption of unpasteurized milk:

  • Bacteria: Raw milk can contain harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, salmonella, and listeria. These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses, such as diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and in severe cases, kidney failure.
  • Tuberculosis: Raw milk can carry Mycobacterium bovis, which can cause tuberculosis in humans. While pasteurization destroys this bacteria, raw milk drinkers are at risk of contracting the disease.
  • Safety of Production: Because raw milk is not pasteurized, it might be unsafe to consume if the cows providing the milk suffered from an infection that could be transmitted to humans, such as tuberculosis. Regular consumption of raw milk could lead to increased risks of contracting a foodborne illness.

The risks of drinking raw milk are particularly high for young children, pregnant women, and individuals with weakened immune systems. For these groups, consumption of raw milk can lead to severe and life-threatening illness. While some people may tout the health benefits of raw milk, it is far safer to consume pasteurized milk and dairy products. By eliminating harmful bacteria, pasteurization can help ensure the safety and quality of the milk we drink, while still providing the essential nutrients and vitamins that make dairy such an important part of a healthy diet.

What is the typical shelf life of unpasteurized milk?

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, is milk that has not been heated to a high temperature to kill off any harmful bacteria. Many people prefer the taste and nutritional benefits of raw milk, but it comes with some risks. One of the main concerns with raw milk is how long it lasts before spoiling. Here’s what you need to know about the shelf life of unpasteurized milk.

  • Unrefrigerated raw milk: If you leave raw milk out at room temperature, it will start to sour within a few hours. This is because bacteria in the milk start to break down lactose, which produces lactic acid and gives the milk a sour taste. The milk will eventually separate into curds and whey, and it will not be safe to consume after a certain point.
  • Refrigerated raw milk: If you keep raw milk in the refrigerator, it can last for up to a week or two before it starts to spoil. However, the exact shelf life will depend on a number of factors, including the temperature of your refrigerator, the age of the milk when you bought it, and whether or not it was handled properly during transport.
  • Frozen raw milk: If you want to extend the shelf life of raw milk, you can freeze it. Raw milk can be frozen for several months without spoiling, although the texture may change slightly. Be sure to use an airtight container and leave some room at the top to allow for expansion as the milk freezes.

It’s worth noting that the shelf life of raw milk can vary depending on the source of the milk. Milk from cows that are grass-fed and living in a healthy environment may last longer than milk from factory-farmed cows. It’s also important to purchase raw milk from a reputable source to ensure that it has been handled properly and tested for harmful bacteria.

If you’re not sure whether your raw milk has gone bad, there are a few signs to look out for. Spoiled milk may have a sour or rancid smell, a yellowish color, or a slimy or curdled texture. If you suspect that your raw milk is no longer safe to drink, it’s better to err on the side of caution and discard it.

Storage method Shelf life
Unrefrigerated 3-4 hours
Refrigerated (in proper conditions) 1-2 weeks
Frozen Several months

Overall, it’s important to be aware of the shelf life of raw milk and take precautions to prevent spoilage. By following proper storage and handling procedures, you can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of raw milk without putting yourself at risk of foodborne illness.

How should unpasteurized milk be stored?

Proper storage of unpasteurized milk is crucial for maintaining its freshness and quality. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Store unpasteurized milk in an opaque container to protect it from light, which can cause it to spoil.
  • Store unpasteurized milk in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the back of the bottom shelf.
  • Keep unpasteurized milk away from other foods, especially those with strong odors, as it can absorb these odors and affect its taste.

It’s important to note that unpasteurized milk has a much shorter shelf life than pasteurized milk and can spoil quickly if not stored properly. The table below offers a general guideline on how long unpasteurized milk can be stored in the refrigerator:

Storage Method Refrigerator Temperature Shelf Life
Opaque Container 36-40°F 5-7 Days

Remember to always check the appearance, smell, and taste of unpasteurized milk before consuming it, even if it is within its shelf life. If it looks or smells off, or tastes sour or bitter, it may be spoilt and should be discarded.

How can you tell if unpasteurized milk has gone bad?

Unpasteurized milk has a shorter shelf life compared to pasteurized milk. It can last up to 7 to 10 days if stored properly in the fridge, but it can also spoil quickly if not handled correctly.

  • Smell – The first indicator that your unpasteurized milk has gone bad is the smell. If it has a sour or rancid odor, discard it.
  • Texture – Fresh unpasteurized milk has a smooth, creamy texture. If it becomes lumpy or thick, it’s a sign that bacteria has started to grow, and it’s no longer safe to drink.
  • Appearance – If there are visible changes to the milk, such as clumps, curdled chunks, or changes in color, it’s past its prime and should be thrown out.

To maximize the shelf life of unpasteurized milk, store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator at 4°C or lower and keep it in its original container. Avoid storing it on the refrigerator door, as this area has the most temperature fluctuation. Always use clean utensils when handling the milk, and practice good hygiene when pouring and storing milk.

Signs that unpasteurized milk has gone bad:
Sour or rancid smell
Lumpy or thick texture
Changes in color or appearance

It’s always better to err on the safe side when it comes to consuming unpasteurized milk. If in doubt, discard it. Drinking unpasteurized milk that has gone bad can lead to food poisoning, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Can unpasteurized milk be frozen?

Unpasteurized milk is a raw and untreated product that carries a higher risk of harmful pathogens than pasteurized milk. Despite this, many people still prefer unpasteurized milk for its taste and perceived health benefits. If you have excess raw milk and are wondering if you can freeze it, the answer is yes, but there are some important considerations and precautions to keep in mind.

  • Ensure the milk is fresh: Only freeze unpasteurized milk that is fresh and has been handled and stored properly. If the milk has been sitting at room temperature for an extended period or exposed to any contaminants, do not freeze it.
  • Consider the potential risks: Freezing unpasteurized milk will not reduce the risk of harmful bacteria if it was already present in the milk before freezing. The best way to minimize the risk of illness is to consume raw milk as soon as possible or pasteurize it.
  • Prepare the milk for freezing: Before freezing, pour the raw milk into a clean and airtight container, leaving some headspace for expansion. You can also consider dividing the milk into smaller portions for ease of use. Label the container with the date and amount of milk, and freeze as soon as possible.

In general, frozen unpasteurized milk can be stored for up to six months. However, the milk’s quality may start to deteriorate after this period, and the taste may be affected. When you are ready to use the milk, thaw it in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature or in the microwave, as this can cause harmful bacteria to grow.

It is important to note that freezing unpasteurized milk may not be legal in some areas or countries, so be sure to check local regulations before freezing raw milk.

Considerations for Freezing Unpasteurized Milk
Only freeze fresh, properly handled milk
Consider the risks associated with consuming unpasteurized milk
Prepare the milk in a clean, airtight container with labeling
Frozen milk can be stored up to six months
Thaw frozen milk in the refrigerator only
Check local regulations before freezing unpasteurized milk

While it is possible to freeze unpasteurized milk, it is important to be aware of the associated risks and to only use fresh, properly handled milk. Thaw the milk safely and use it as soon as possible to ensure the best quality and taste. If you have any concerns about consuming unpasteurized milk, it may be best to choose pasteurized milk instead.

How does unpasteurized milk compare in nutrient content to pasteurized milk?

There has been a long-standing debate on whether unpasteurized milk is more nutritious compared to pasteurized milk. The differences in nutrient content can be attributed to the processing methods used in producing each type of milk.

Here are some key differences in nutrient content between unpasteurized and pasteurized milk:

  • Unpasteurized milk contains more enzymes that aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. These enzymes are destroyed during pasteurization, making it more difficult for the body to digest and metabolize the milk.
  • Unpasteurized milk also contains more beneficial bacteria that can boost the immune system and improve gut health. Pasteurization destroys these bacteria, which are also known as probiotics.
  • Pasteurized milk is often fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals to replace the nutrients lost during processing. Unpasteurized milk, on the other hand, naturally contains higher levels of vitamins A, C, D, and E, as well as minerals like calcium and magnesium.

It is important to note that while unpasteurized milk does contain higher levels of certain nutrients, it also carries the risk of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli. It is crucial to ensure that the source of unpasteurized milk is reputable and the milk has been properly handled and stored.

Nutrient Unpasteurized Milk Pasteurized Milk
Calcium 112 mg 118 mg
Magnesium 7.57 mg 6.12 mg
Vitamin C 0.10 mg 0.11 mg
Vitamin D 0.03 mcg 0.03 mcg
Vitamin E 0.19 mg 0.43 mg

As shown in the table above, while there are differences in nutrient content between unpasteurized and pasteurized milk, they are relatively small and not significant enough to make a definitive claim that one is more nutritious than the other. Ultimately, the choice between unpasteurized and pasteurized milk should be based on individual preference and health concerns.

What are the laws and regulations surrounding the sale of unpasteurized milk?

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, is milk that hasn’t been heated to kill bacteria and microorganisms that may cause diseases such as E.coli, salmonella, and listeria. Unpasteurized milk is sold in many states in the United States, but there are laws and regulations in place to ensure its safety and regulate its sale.

  • State Laws: Each state has different regulations for the sale of unpasteurized milk. Some states allow it to be sold in grocery stores, while others only allow it to be sold on the farm or through specially licensed retailers. Some states have strict requirements for labeling and testing of unpasteurized milk.
  • Federal Laws: The sale of unpasteurized milk across state lines is prohibited by federal law, except for cheese made from unpasteurized milk that has been aged for at least 60 days. The FDA has also issued warnings and taken action against producers who sell unpasteurized milk that is contaminated with harmful bacteria.
  • Labeling Requirements: Unpasteurized milk must be labeled with warnings about the potential risks of consuming raw milk, and some states require additional information such as the name and address of the farm where the milk was produced, as well as testing results for harmful bacteria.

Here is a table summarizing the states with laws and regulations regarding the sale of unpasteurized milk:

State Unpasteurized Milk Sale Licensing Requirements Labeling Requirements
California Allowed No Yes
Wisconsin Restricted Yes Yes
Texas Allowed for pet consumption only No Yes
New York Allowed for on-farm sales only Yes Yes

It’s important to note that the consumption of unpasteurized milk carries risks and should be avoided by individuals with weakened immune systems, children, pregnant women, and the elderly.

What are the health benefits of consuming unpasteurized milk?

Unpasteurized milk, also known as raw milk, is milk that has not undergone the process of pasteurization. The process of pasteurization involves heating the milk to a certain temperature to kill off any harmful bacteria. While some people are cautious about consuming unpasteurized milk due to concerns about safety and health, there are many potential health benefits to consuming unpasteurized milk.

  • Improved Digestive Health: Unpasteurized milk contains beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and other substances that can aid in digestion and improve gut health. These substances may help to reduce inflammation, prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, and strengthen the immune system.
  • Increased Nutrient Content: Unpasteurized milk may contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B12, and iron. This is because the pasteurization process can destroy or reduce the levels of these nutrients in milk.
  • Reduced Risk of Allergies and Asthma: Some studies suggest that consuming unpasteurized milk may reduce the risk of allergies and asthma, particularly in children. This may be because unpasteurized milk contains certain immune-boosting factors that can help to reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.

In addition to these potential health benefits, some people also prefer the taste of unpasteurized milk compared to pasteurized milk. However, it is important to note that there are risks associated with consuming unpasteurized milk. Because it has not undergone the process of pasteurization, there is a higher risk of contamination with harmful bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Therefore, it is important to source unpasteurized milk from a reputable producer and handle it safely to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

Overall, if you are considering consuming unpasteurized milk, it is important to weigh the potential health benefits against the risks. Consulting with a healthcare provider can also be helpful in making an informed decision.

What are some alternatives to unpasteurized milk?

While raw milk enthusiasts swear by its health benefits and delicious taste, many people opt for pasteurized milk due to safety concerns. If you’re looking for alternatives to unpasteurized milk, here are some options to consider:

  • Pasteurized Milk: This is the most commonly consumed type of milk in the United States. It’s heated to a high temperature to kill harmful bacteria, making it safe to drink. Pasteurized milk can be found in both full-fat and low-fat varieties.
  • UHT Milk: UHT stands for “ultra-high temperature,” and this milk is heated to an even higher temperature than pasteurized milk. This gives it a longer shelf life and eliminates the need for refrigeration until it’s opened. UHT milk can be found in many grocery stores and is commonly used in Europe.
  • Plant-Based Milk: If you’re looking for a non-dairy alternative to milk, there are many options available. Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, and coconut milk are just a few popular choices. These milks can be found in most grocery stores and come in a variety of flavors.

It’s important to note that raw milk and many unpasteurized dairy products are illegal in some states in the United States due to safety concerns. If you’re unsure about the laws in your state, it’s best to check with local authorities before consuming unpasteurized milk or dairy products.

FAQs: How Long Does Unpasteurized Milk Last?

1) How long can unpasteurized milk be kept in the fridge?
Unpasteurized milk can last up to a week in the fridge if stored correctly.

2) What is the best way to store unpasteurized milk?
Unpasteurized milk should be stored in a clean, airtight container and kept in the coldest part of the fridge.

3) Can unpasteurized milk be frozen?
Yes, unpasteurized milk can be frozen but it may affect its quality. It’s best to consume it fresh.

4) How can you tell if unpasteurized milk has gone bad?
If unpasteurized milk smells sour, has a strange texture, or tastes off, it might have gone bad.

5) How long does unpasteurized milk last unrefrigerated?
Unpasteurized milk should never be left unrefrigerated for long periods. It can be left out for up to 2 hours but it’s best to avoid leaving it out altogether.

6) Is it safe to drink unpasteurized milk?
Drinking unpasteurized milk can pose risks to health because it may contain harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. It’s best to consume pasteurized milk.

7) Why is unpasteurized milk more perishable than pasteurized milk?
Unpasteurized milk contains higher bacteria counts because it has not undergone the process of pasteurization. The bacteria in unpasteurized milk can cause spoilage and illness over shorter time periods.


Now that you know how long unpasteurized milk can last and how to properly store it, you can make informed decisions about consuming it. Remember that the best way to ensure your health is to drink pasteurized milk. We hope you found this information helpful and thank you for reading. Please come back soon for more informative articles.