long-life milk

What exactly is the difference between regular milk and “long-life” ones which last a month without refregiration? I thought it was just a matter of pasteurizing more completely and using a better sealed package, but someone I know claims that long-life milk is full of nasty preservatives. Any truth to this?

From Milk.co.uk:

“UHT milk is available in whole, semi-skimmed and skimmed varieties. Whole and semi-skimmed milk which is to be ultra heat treated is first homogenised. The milk is then heated to not less than 135°C for at least one second. It is then packed into cartons. There is a slight effect on flavour, but the effect on nutritional value is not as severe as with sterilisation. UHT milk will keep, unopened for several months without refrigeration. Once opened, the milk must be kept refrigerated and used within 4-5 days.”

Personally, I have to swear by the stuff (at least the skimmed, or “non-fat” variety). Having moved to England 9 months ago, I have been living in a situation where fridge space was at a premium, and my local markets weren’t convenient to get to. I could not have survived without the UHT milk; I would buy 6-8 bottles at once, which would sit in my pantry (closet) until space opened up for one of them. And nicely chilled, the stuff tastes wonderful. I’ve never really noticed it being available in the States–when my wife would visit, she’d be a bit creeped out by the “mutant” milk (but hey, she likes powdered milk–Blech!)

Oh, and UHT stands for “Ultra High Temperature”

You can also get irradiated milk which has a much longer shelf life, couple of years IIRC. That seems to be popular only in countries where there is little or no refrigeration or amenities are far flung. It never really seemed to catch on in many of the developed countries (what marketing genious decided to name it irradiated ?) and I’m not even sure how much is still sold around the world.

Some of the Fat free and ultra-skim milks we were duscussing in a thread a week or two ago are also milks that can be stored for long periods prior to opening. Make sure to check the label.

Some friends of mine bought cartons of irradiated milk in the Netherlands and absolutely fell in love with the concept. They still order it occasionally so that they always have milk on hand. I’m not sure where they get it, but they do get it without any difficulty. People in general are too reactionary about anything with the word ‘radiation’ in it for it to catch on in the states. Me, I like the idea of a steak that you can keep on the shelf in the pantry.

We use UHT milk exclusively, because we can buy it in bulk from the supermarket almost 40% cheaper than fresh milk. And once you have it, it has a shelf life of 5-6 months without needing refrigeration, prior to opening.

the supermarket near me sells UHT milk, but its MORE expensive than fresh milk. I guess because its a small volume item.

Just checking in to say that I wish folks as a whole would accept irradiated foods. They’re completely safe (anything bad that could conceivably be caused by irradiation could also be caused by cooking), and they’d enable things like safe raw-egg eggnog, as well as the longer shelf lives.

UHT milk is much more common in Europe than the US. It is more convenient but I understand fresh milk is healthier as it retains more nutrients.

I wish I could find UHT milk easier in the US as it would be much more convenient on my boat where I have no refrigeration. And I wish I could find fresh milk here in madrid where it seems UHT is the only thing available

Thanks for the information everyone - sounds like UHT milk is pretty good stuff. Here in Japan it’s fairly easy to find - in addition to supermarkets, many vending machines sell it too. Haven’t seen any irradiated milk though.

The reason UHT milk is 40% cheaper in South Australia is because the State Government regulates the price of fresh milk. Currently it’s about $1.35/litre. UHT milk is classified as “manufacturing” milk, thus being unregulated. And given that huge amounts of milk are used in processed foods, the sheer volume of manufacturing milk makes it much cheaper.

I love the stuff. The only brand I have seen here in the US is Parmalat. I usually have a couple boxes in the cabinets. It’s the 'just in case" milk. So if I can’t get to the store for whatever reason or I forget to buy milk, we always have some on hand.