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The Difference Between Pasteurized and Ultra-pasteurized Milk

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A reader asked me recently if the pasteurized milk in her grocery store would work for making yogurt. The directions said not to use ultra-pasteurized, is that the same thing?

The short answer is no, pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized are not the same thing. And the “regular” pasteurized your grocery store most-likely carries will work for yogurt.

This is a really good question, though, because there are a lot of different labels floating around for milk: pasteurized, ultra-pasteurized, organic, homogenized, raw. What do they all mean? Are they marketing fluff or do they make a difference? Can you taste the difference?


Chow.com did a blind taste test to find out, and included a glossary describing what the terms all mean. What did they find?

  • Organic tastes better than non-organic.
  • Non-homogenized milks were smoother, creamier, and overall more delicious than homogenized.
  • Ultra-pasteurized should probably be avoided, because the milk can taste “cooked.” That’s fine if you’re making rice pudding, but otherwise, we prefer fresher-tasting milk.
  • Raw milks are the most flavorful, but you have to be ready for them: If you prefer a neutral beverage that tastes almost like ice water, raw milk’s tangy, barnyardy, grassy notes may be off-putting.

So if you have any questions about what the different labels mean, go check out the Chow.com article.

Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.

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