What brands of store-bought milk work for making cheese?

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Saccharomyces

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Not all of us have easy access to farm-fresh milk. My first two attempts at making cheese flopped because I didn't realize you can't use any ultra-pasteurized milk. I ended up with a rather flavorless and mushy ricotta instead of the nice firm cheese I was expecting. Lesson learned -- always check the label and buy a quality brand. Many, many brands -- even organic ones -- are UP since it extends the shelf life, and the high temp denatures the milk proteins.

I did some research and bought a gallon of Whole Foods 365 brand milk since it is HTST pasteurized and will give it a try to make Mozzarella this weekend.

What brands of milk have worked for other folks? Or failed to make good cheese?

As folks reply to the thread I'll update this post to maintain a list here. Please include the type(s) of cheese you made since some milks may be good for some types of cheese but not others.

Known to work:
Swiss Premium (mozzarella and ricotta)
Farmers' All Natural Creamery
Giant Eagle Pasteurized (mozzarella with calcium chloride)
Whole Foods 365 Organic (mozzarella with calcium chloride)
Central Market Organic (mozzarella)
Albertson's (mozzarella) (check the label to be sure it isn't ultra-pasteurized since that may vary depending on market location)
Rhody Fresh (Rhode Island) (mozzarella)
Borden Pasteurized in gallon jugs
Wegman's Organic
Spartan (mozz with calcium chloride)
Publix + calcium chloride
Kroger + calcium chloride
Trader Joes Organic

Known NOT TO WORK:
Any milk labeled "ultra-pasteurized", this includes almost all organic brands!
Horizon Organic (some work, some do not, it is not worth a ruined batch so don't try!)

Tip! Try 1% or 2% and add a pint of heavy cream along with a teaspoon of calcium chloride per gallon. The texture of the resulting cheese will be much nicer, since not all of the milk fat will be homogenized.
 

flyangler18

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Works: Swiss Premium (mozzarella and ricotta).

Haven't attempted any hard cheeses yet, but will report back.

As an aside, I've never seen an organic milk that hasn't been UP.
 

Brewing Clamper

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My first two attempts at making cheese flopped because I didn't realize you can't use any ultra-pasteurized milk.

Holy crap, I did not know this! I'm just thinking about making my own cheeses and I though I could use any store bought milk... The stuff from my store just says Grade A, Pasteurized, homogenized. That means I'm ok to use it, right?
 

s3n8

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I made some mozzarella with Natures Promise (I think) Organic milk from the grocery store. Mozzarella turned out ok, tasted good, but melted weird on pizza. I think i was a little aggressive when kneading it, but it seemed to work. In any case, it said Pasteurized (not ultra) on the label. I am curious as well to find some that does not cost 6.50 a gallon for milk to try again.
 

CBBaron

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Nearly all organic milk is ultra pasteurized because it significantly extends the shelf life of the product allowing a national or broad regional distribution. The short shelf life of pasteurized milk means the plant usually only distributes over a small regional area. Because organic milk is a limited market and required certification by both the packaging plant and the farmers most regional packagers do not handle it leaving the market to a few national brands. As the market for organic milk increases I have seen more brands including local ones become available.
Our local grocery carries an organic milk that is pasteurized but not homogenized or ultra pasteurized. It is sold in half gallon glass jars. It is also very expensive.

Once I know I can make decent cheese with cheaper conventional milk I will give the local organic milk a try. At this point it is too expensive for my experiments. :)

On the other hand I have read that you can make yogurt without the normally required heating to near boiling when you use UP milk.

Craig
 

s3n8

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So for those of you who have tried Ultra-pasteurized milk for mozarella, what was the result? The curds that formed were tiny, but I attributed that to over aggressive stirring. I am a complete novice with 1 mediocre batch under my belt. Homemade anyway :)
 

Nurmey

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It is the homogenized milk that is more of a problem than pasteurized. Pasteurizing kills the micros but homogenizing breaks the butter fat particles into too small of pieces to make good cheese.

I found an organic brand that is pasteurized but not homogenized in my local HyVee store produced by Farmers’ All Natural Creamery.
 

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Ultra pasteurized milk just won't form a clean break, or give you proper curd formation. You can use dry milk and whipping cream (as a combo- a small amount of the cream) if you can't find any milk that isn't UP. The directions for that are in Rikki Carroll's book, and on the website, and in the directions for the 30 minute mozzarella.

For homogenized milk, it's recommended to add some calcium chloride to help "normalize" the protein. It's also recommended to use it in goat's milk, and I usually try to remember to do that. Goat's milk works great for me so far, but it's a bit different than cow's milk. One of the differences I've seen is that in regular milk, the cream rises to the top so you have to "top stir" it when you add the rennet. Goat's milk doesn't do that, as the cream seems to be all mixed up with the milk. I guess that's where the rich taste comes from.

You can use skim milk, for a lower fat cheese, or full fat milk, for a richer cheese.
 

avaserfi

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For homogenized milk, it's recommended to add some calcium chloride to help "normalize" the protein. It's also recommended to use it in goat's milk, and I usually try to remember to do that. Goat's milk works great for me so far, but it's a bit different than cow's milk. One of the differences I've seen is that in regular milk, the cream rises to the top so you have to "top stir" it when you add the rennet. Goat's milk doesn't do that, as the cream seems to be all mixed up with the milk. I guess that's where the rich taste comes from.

What's the amount of calcium chloride recommended to add per gallon of milk for homogenized and goat milk?
 

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What's the amount of calcium chloride recommended to add per gallon of milk for homogenized and goat milk?

It's 1/4 tsp per 2 gallons. My solution is a liquid solution I got from cheesemaking.com and it's not labeled as to the cacl % in solution, so I'm following the package directions. To be honest, though, I haven't noticed much of a difference in my curd formation when I've forgotten it, although it may be different with homogenized milk (I've only ever used the goat's milk).
 

avaserfi

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I just got back from HEB. All the milks there were labeled "pasteurized" except for Promised Land ($2.20 per quart :() milk which claims to be "HHST pasteurized." From what I can find this means high heat, short time pasteurization and should be safe for making cheese with. Does anyone know if my findings are right? I would prefer not blow $10 bucks if it is the same as regular milk...
 

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I just got back from HEB. All the milks there were labeled "pasteurized" except for Promised Land ($2.20 per quart :() milk which claims to be "HHST pasteurized." From what I can find this means high heat, short time pasteurization and should be safe for making cheese with. Does anyone know if my findings are right? I would prefer not blow $10 bucks if it is the same as regular milk...

I think it's the opposite- "regular" pasteurized milk is ok, but HH might mean UP. You want to stay away from high heat/ultra pasteurized. Lower temp pasteurized would be ok.

Organic milks seem to be more likely to be UP, since it improves the shelf life for shipping.
 
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I just got back from HEB. All the milks there were labeled "pasteurized" except for Promised Land ($2.20 per quart :() milk which claims to be "HHST pasteurized." From what I can find this means high heat, short time pasteurization and should be safe for making cheese with. Does anyone know if my findings are right? I would prefer not blow $10 bucks if it is the same as regular milk...

HHST/HTST should work if you add calcium chloride. Milk labeled 'pasteurized' may be HTST or UP though some brands (HEB) are actually labelled as UP. I know from experience the HCF brand does not work, and there are no suitable brands at the local Walmart.

I can't tell if the Borden milk HEB carries is HTST or UP since it just says 'Pasteurized', so I may give it a shot.
 

avaserfi

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HHST/HTST should work if you add calcium chloride. Milk labeled 'pasteurized' may be HTST or UP though some brands (HEB) are actually labelled as UP. I know from experience the HCF brand does not work, and there are no suitable brands at the local Walmart.

I can't tell if the Borden milk HEB carries is HTST or UP since it just says 'Pasteurized', so I may give it a shot.

I discovered that HHST doesn't work to well as it is raised above 170 degrees F.

I did find Farmers Creamery locally at a natural food store (it is made in IA) and it is non-homogenized, VAT Pasteurized (at 145 degrees F according to their FAQ). A little pricey, but the milk is great and should work perfectly for making cheese.
 

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As an aside, I've never seen an organic milk that hasn't been UP.

Exactly my experience. Every single one. Very disappointing. I made a special trip to Whole Foods figuring if any non dairy-specific market would have a suitable milk it would be them. They had like 8 brands of organic milk and every one said UP. A couple of em I had to look hard to find it but they all said UP somewhere.

didn't see that 365 brand though.

I did find a direct source dairy market within reach that I have not made it to yet. Maybe this week. (For aspiring cheesemakers in the Philly area - the market is out on Baltimore Pike in Springfield.)
 

avaserfi

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Exactly my experience. Every single one. Very disappointing. I made a special trip to Whole Foods figuring if any non dairy-specific market would have a suitable milk it would be them. They had like 8 brands of organic milk and every one said UP. A couple of em I had to look hard to find it but they all said UP somewhere.

didn't see that 365 brand though.

I did find a direct source dairy market within reach that I have not made it to yet. Maybe this week. (For aspiring cheesemakers in the Philly area - the market is out on Baltimore Pike in Springfield.)

Check out the brand above it is organic, non-homogenized VAT pasteurized (Post 15). It is made in IA and I am in TX and can find it at local natural food stores so others might be able to find it.
 

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I got a friend who says he could probably find local raw milk. He used to work at a dairy and has contacts with some of the local farmers and buys eggs from the amish, etc. I'm thinking about trying this cheese thing with him and see how it goes. I'm not sure I'll want to do it all the time, but it looks like a fun project to play with. I've already got the rennet and citric acid for the mozz stuff. Just need to find the milk and pick a time.
 

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Went to Costco the other day and they had several locally produced milks. Including "Ohio Organic Family Farms" Pasteurized and homogenized (not UP). They also had a "top cream" pasteurized organic milk. However that brand was in glass half gallons for over $4 + $1.50 deposit. The local grocery (Heinens) also had the same "top cream" milk. I think it depends of the availability of locally produced milk. Ohio produces a considerable amount of fresh milk, more than sufficient for the local market. In addition there are numerous local companies supplying milk, most with a considerable history. These types of traditional milk producers are less likely to be UP the milk. In denser areas like the Coasts and south the local demand outstrips the supply and the producers are more large national companies that find economy in UP milk shipped from out of state.

Oh and the local Giant Eagle brand milk made a nice 30 min mozzarella with the addition of CaCl.

Craig
 

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Call the Dairy that the milk was processed from and they should tell you how they pasturize the milk. I know Kemps and Moring Glory in Wisconsin do not ultra pasturize their milk.
 
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Confirmed ... Whole Foods 365 milk works. At $4 a gallon it's a nice cheap option for fresh cheese.

I was looking at the local grocery store, the Horizon cartons are marked UP but gallon jugs are labeled 'pasteurized'. I love Horizon milk, so I may grab a gallon and give it a try. Worst case I have more ricotta. ;)
 

avaserfi

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I had success tonight with Central Market brand organic whole milk. I talked to the Dallas buyer and he said it is not UP. It is also sold at HEB for $5.50 a gallon.

mozz011.jpg
 

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I looked at our milk yesterday and it says "Pasteurized" only. Do you think it's Ultra? It's just a skim milk, not organic or anything.

Also, would I be better off with skim or whole?
 

s3n8

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I looked at our milk yesterday and it says "Pasteurized" only. Do you think it's Ultra? It's just a skim milk, not organic or anything.

Also, would I be better off with skim or whole?

I think whole. Thats what I used. When they skim, I think they are taking away what makes cheese (*I think*). You might get an oz of cheese instead of a lb.
 

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Good results from Albertson's store brand. 75 cents for a half gallon on sale made for some super cheap yet delicious mozzerella.
 

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I think whole. Thats what I used. When they skim, I think they are taking away what makes cheese (*I think*). You might get an oz of cheese instead of a lb.

You don't want to use skim milk unless you add back in the fat in the form of cream. Even part skim mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses use about 2.5% fat milk. However you won't lose quite as much as you describe. Milk is about 12% solids including the 3.5% milkfat. So even without the fat you still have about 7% solids. However without the fat your cheese would be extremely dense and hard. Not very edible.

Craig
 

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Hey Saccharomyces, how did the Horizon gallon jugs work? I've been thinking about trying that. Good idea with this thread I've been looking for a list like this, it should be stickied.

-Archroy
 

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I'm 0 for 2 so far with mozzarella. The first attempt was with milk from a great local premium dairy, Maple View Farm. Got super fine ricotta. No coagulation, no clean break. Nothin'. I have to assume that they ultra pasteurize to maximize shelf life. Their milk is expensive so I imagine they don't have the turnover of the store brands. Second attempt was with an inexpensive store brand. Got decent coagulation but not the yogurt-like consistency I see in pictures. By repeatedly heating and beating it into submission I got a rubbery blob of mozz. I'm trying it on pizza tonight but I'm not hopeful. This doesn't feel like any mozzarella I've ever handled. Next attempt is scheduled for tomorrow with milk from Maola, a regional dairy operation. We'll see how that goes.

Chad
 

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Haven't tried the Horizon yet. It's about time to make some more cheese though. You guys are making me hungry. :D

I just pulled the trigger on a cheesemaking beginner's kit and now I am jonesing for cheese.

After all my searches for non-UP milk and suitable milk oulets it turns out there is a farm store about a quarter mile from my house that sells raw cow and goats milk! Score!
 

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I just made some romano cheese with Organic Valley milk and it worked well. It is pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized.
 

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With you guys talking about organic milk so much I am confused...

Are you guys using organic milk for taste/preference for organic? Or is it better for the cheese making process/flavor.

+1 for the sticky

Thanks
 

archroy

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I don't think that organic milk is better for cheese making any more than organic milk is better for drinking. Personally I would rather use organic for my own cheese making because I think its better quaility but thats up to you. I would use raw milk if I could buy it for a reasonable price as that is definitely the best.

-Archroy
 

jaxxzero3

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Thanks for the clarification on the organic milk.

Here is a helpful on topic Link after I read this thread I found it:

About Milk
Ultra Pasteurized Milk

Hope they help shed some light. :)

Edit: More helpful info from the same site: "A great website to help you find out more about 'Raw Milk' is http://www.realmilk.com/where.html maintained by the The Weston A. Price Foundation and offering details about raw milk and where to find it in your state"
 

jvlpdillon

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I tried Horizon in gallon plastic jugs. This was labeled as pasteurized. The 1/2 gallon paper cartons are labeled UP. It was my first attempt at any kind of cheese making. Starting easy I made 30 min mozzarella. It set up properly. I did add calcium chloride too.
 
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I tried Horizon in gallon plastic jugs. This was labeled as pasteurized. The 1/2 gallon paper cartons are labeled UP. It was my first attempt at any kind of cheese making. Starting easy I made 30 min mozzarella. It set up properly. I did add calcium chloride too.

Cool, I figured it would work, thanks for the confirmation.
 
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I know most organic milk is Ulta Past., but does anybody know about Wegman's Organic, specifically?

They service a smaller area, so I was hoping that it might not be UltraPast, and it would be my go-to milk, as I start learning how to make cheese, but I just don't know.

EDIT: Apparently it is not Ulta-Pasteurized. I don't know why I didn't try wegmans.com sooner, now I feel like a dumb-ass. https://www.wegmans.com/webapp/wcs/...toreId=10052&catalogId=10002&productId=399628
 
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