milkPasteurization and homogenization are two different processes that are often associated with milk and dairy products. Pasteurization is a compromise of sorts. If you boil a food, you can kill all bacteria and make the food sterile, but you adversely affect the taste and nutritional value of the food. When you pasteurize milk, what you are doing is heating it to a high enough temperature to kill certain (but not all) bacteria and to disable certain enzymes. In return you are minimizing the effects on taste and nutritional value as much as possible.

Homogenization is very different. If you take a gallon of fresh milk straight from a cow and allow it to sit in the refrigerator, all of the cream will completely separate. This leaves you with skim milk and a layer of cream. To make “2% milk,” you need the cream to stay suspended in the milk. Homogenization is the process of breaking up the fat globules in cream to such a small size that they remain suspended evenly in the milk rather than separating out and floating to the surface.

Raw-milk cheese is made with milk that is unpasteurized and often un-homogenized as well. The government has forbidden the sale of cheeses made from unpasteurized milk unless the cheese is aged at least 60 days. The 60-day ban is meant to protect consumers from potentially harmful pathogens. After 60 days, the acids and salts in raw-milk cheese naturally prevent listeria, salmonella, and E. coli from growing.

Some cheesemakers believe that using raw milk creates more flavorful and more healthful cheeses. The cheese we get from the licensed creamery at Jolly Farmer is all made from raw-milk and has been aged for well over the 60 day timeframe. The taste is unique and delicious!