Milk and dairy products play a pivotal role in human nutrition, offering essential nutrients vital for health. Globally, approximately 820 million tons of milk are produced annually, with around half of this quantity undergoing pasteurization for consumption.
Pasteurization is a fundamental technique designed to ensure milk’s safety and extend its shelf life. This process involves heating milk to a specific temperature that effectively eliminates harmful microbes. It is then held at this temperature briefly before being rapidly cooled to prevent any microbial regrowth. Regular, or “daily,” milk is typically pasteurized by heating to 65 degrees Celsius for 15 seconds, then quickly cooled to 4 degrees Celsius for storage. This type of milk, available in the market, has a shelf life of 3 to 5 days and must be refrigerated at home.
On the other hand, long-life, or UHT (Ultra High Temperature), milk undergoes heating to approximately 140 degrees Celsius for 4-5 seconds and is then swiftly cooled. This process allows long-life milk to be stored at room temperature for 2 to 6 months. However, once opened, it needs to be refrigerated and consumed within two days to ensure its freshness and safety.
Cheese, another vital dairy product, is known for its ability to increase in value and flavor over time. Depending on the cheese variety, it can be stored at 2 to 5°C, with a shelf life ranging from 2 to 12 months. Cheese’s unique aging process enhances its taste and texture, making it a cherished item in various cuisines worldwide.
Butter, derived from milk, demonstrates remarkable storage capabilities. When kept at -25°C, butter can maintain its quality for up to 12 months, providing a versatile and long-lasting dairy option for consumers.
Understanding these dairy processing and storage methods is crucial for maintaining the nutritional value and safety of milk and its derivatives, ensuring they continue to be a staple in diets around the globe.