raw milk

I just bought a house in a pretty rural area, neighboring a Mennonite dairy farm (mechanized - they’re not Old Order). I asked him today if he sells milk, as I’ve seen Old Order women walking by, carrying jugs of milk. And he does. It’s $1.50/gallon, bring you own jug. He told me to stop by after 5:00 any day (that’s when they’re done milking) and he’d fill it for me, right out of the tank.

I’m excited. Fresh milk for $1.50 a gallon!

But it’s not pasteurized. I asked the farmer whether I should buy a one of those little pasteurizers, and he laughed at me. He drinks it raw. His family drinks it raw. And I’m sure his Old Order customers all drink it raw. He seemed to think the very idea of pasteurizing it was absurd.

The raw milk sites I’m reading place a lot of emphasis on cleanliness issues, antibiotics, hormones, etc. I get the impression this might be an ordinary dairy farm in that regard. On the other hand, I see the cows out grazing every day and it looks to me like there’s maybe only 30 to 50 of them – it’s not a huge, industrial farm.

My question is, would you drink it raw?

Would you buy a pasteurizer? I see them on eBay for around $100, but i really like the taste of raw milk.

I would love to have easy access to raw milk! As far as I understand it, if the cows are primarily grass-fed and pasture raised, you’re pretty much a-ok to drink it raw.
I’m actually hoping to have a home dairy cow in a few years and produce small-scale raw dairy products. There’s some good information here: Organic Pastures along with some glowy hyperbole :wink: . I’m going to visit Mark in a few weeks to check it out and learn how to keep a dairy clean enough for raw milk.

Enjoy, I’m jealous!

Oh man, you are in for a treat! I loathed growing up in farm country (allergies and nothing to do), but I do miss the raw milk. After drinking it, the Vitamin D in the store will seem like skim. Delicious I say.

I’d drink it raw if I was going to drink milk, but I’d be mighty careful about letting any youngsters in my household drink it that way. My sister became deathly ill from the bacteria in raw milk when she was two. Apparently, the projectile vomit was quite spectacular, as my family is still talking about it almost thirty years later.

But, she’s the only person I personally know who got sick from it and all of the plain Christians who take their milk that way around here handle it just fine. The CDC has some hysterical warnings about raw milk, but considering how long milk drinkers managed to survive without pasteurization, I think basic hygiene and common sense will keep you from dying. Chances are good that anybody much older than two and in good health would probably be just fine drinking the milk from that farm.

I’m sure if the health department finds out they are selling raw milk, the farmer will be shutdown and fined. It’s all just hysterics and will never happen to you, but it does happen to the other guy.


There are plenty of states where producing and selling raw milk is legal. Sometimes there are restrictions such as having people bring their own containers to fill, or keeping fewer than a certain number of cattle, but there’s no reason to assume the OP’s farmer is doing something the health department doesn’t know about.

Just like there are precautions you should take when eating raw or uncooked meat, there are precautions to take consuming raw dairy products. Sashimi, steak tartare, and raw milk are all delicious.

Pennsylvania is, as near as I’ve been able to tell, one of the states where it’s legal. Either that or a whole bunch of dairies I found on Google are lying about being licensed by the state. If it’s licensed, there are a number of legal hoops that must be jumped through and lots of testing, so it should be relatively safe.

I still wouldn’t give it to a small child or someone with a compromised immune system, just to be cautious, but the same could be said for honey.

None of our local dairy farms are licensed to sell raw milk, it might not even be possible here, but they can give you a gallon or two, no problem. When I have more free time, I’d like to try my hand at making some cheese.

I’ve also drunk fresh, raw goat’s milk which is pretty good.

One warning though… after getting used to drinking raw milk, I can’t drink the stuff from supermarkets anymore. I used to drink milk all the time, we moved next to a dairy farm and started getting our milk straight from them. That milk was good!

I’ve had it once or twice (but wouldn’t give it to a little kid or my dad, who’s not in the greatest of health) and it’s pretty awesome - remember to shake it, though!

That’s one of my big concerns. I’m pretty certain they eat grain, too. At least, I seem them with their heads in troughs. I don’t know what’s actually in the troughs. The farmer definitely isn’t the hippy organic type.

I’d definitely give it a try, with the following caveats:

  • never let someone with an immature or deficient immune system drink it.

  • since you’re bringing your own container, make sure it is sterilized beforehand. As in, autoclave that sucker, if you can.

I’ll bet you could make some awesome cheese from raw milk.

That right there is the biggest danger of drinking raw milk. You’ll be spoiled for life. :slight_smile:

As others have indicated, I think the same precautions go as for soft-cooked eggs or rare-ish hamburgers: No kids, seniors, pregnant ladies, or sick people should indulge. If your system can handle a day or two of puking and/or diarrhea without permanently harming you, it’s probably fine to take the very small risk that the milk could make you sick.

If you get some, you should try making cheese with it. I’ve read it’s getting harder to make cheese from store-bought milk, because lots of it is not only pasteurized, but ultra-pasteurized, and it just doesn’t work. I’ve read cheesemakers (and they are blessed) rave about raw milk.

We make cheese for store bought milk, as if I remember, raw milk is illegal in Massachusetts, although there are days I’m surprised that breathing isn’t illegal hear. Needless to say though, my father head cheesemaker, really wants to go to New Hampshire and buy raw milk at some point.

I grew up drinking raw milk. I still shake milk every time I use it (my family laughs at me for it). I wish I could find some these days.

I couldn’t drink milk for years after the dairy we went to shut down, because supermarket milk is so yucky. The organic milk is the closest I’ve found, but damn it’s expensive!

The bacteria count depends mostly on how they run their operation. A clean dairy will produce milk that’s fine to drink without pasteurizing. A poorly-run dairy, not so much. (My sister had a dairy when I was a teenager; all the milk truck guys got their milk from her tank before they filled the truck. Those guys knew the bacteria count on every farm they picked up from.)

I’d get a look at their actual milking procedure if possible. Do they wash the udders before milking? Are they using a closed system (i.e., milking machine)? How and how often do they sterilize equipment? Do they test their cows and milk? That sort of thing.

If it looks like they run a clean operation, I’d go for it. I probably would pasteurize it (you can do it on your stovetop) before feeding it to people with compromised immune systems, just in case.

I happened to have a conversation a couple weeks ago with a gentleman who used to run an organic farm in the southeastern US, I think it might have been in Tennessee. He said that he was not allowed to *sell * raw milk, but there was a loophole. A person is allowed to consume raw milk from his/her own cows. So there was a setup called a “cow share.” A group of people had joint ownership of a particular cow. They paid the farmer to feed and otherwise care for her, and to do the milking. They would then come by periodically to pick up their own raw milk.

Who_me?, see if your supermarket carries UHT milk (it’s sold in brick-sized cartons). While not the same as raw, one of the advantages of UHT over pasteurized is that it tastes more like raw milk (UHT is a sort of “flash pasteurization,” higher temperatures for a shorter time).

And of course, if you take the raw milk and boil it (just don’t let it escape the pot cos it’s a **** to clean), it’s not raw any more :).

Good Eats had a segment the other day and the lovely Alton Brown showed a couple ways of pasturizing milk at home, if you wanted raw milk pasturized. he said it’s not always necessary. unfortunately, the Milk ep just aired a few days ago, but you know Good Eats - It’ll be on again soon.


Well, I just went up and got some. They were late in milking them, so the tank wasn’t even full yet and the milk was still warm. Even warm, it’s good!