The Slice: The (Raw) Milk Itself

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You’d probably think otherwise, but raw milk doesn’t taste too different from pasteurized milk. In its liquid form it actually shouldn’t. Good raw milk should be as clean as – or, arguably, cleaner than – pasteurized milk, and should have no trace of the animal from which it came.

Since regulations aren’t as stringent for milk that’s destined to be pasteurized, you’ll find that raw milk that’s meant for drinking (or cheese, for that matter), can be treated in a safer manner from the start. Try telling that to the super-advocates of pasteurization.

Now as for the milk itself, I’ve never been able to taste the “wild,” or even “gamey” flavors I’ve heard people swear to in tastings, and have always thought that they say this only because they know they’re drinking raw milk or they’re told that it should taste “raw.” Note that a similar thing occurs often during wine tastings, when people agree in unison that yes, that is unripe starfruit on the midpalate with a hint of Meyer lemon pith on the finish. Isn’t it funny how it’s easy to believe what you’re told you’re tasting?

At most, I can pick up a difference only in the finish between raw and pasteurized milks; pasteurized milks tend to have a consistent, unwavering flavor throughout that dies off after you swallow, while the raw milk will linger longer, with a subtle aroma that makes its way back through your nasal passage. The true differences can emerge during cheesemaking, which we’ll be discussing soon. In the meantime, now that certain states are passing laws to legalize raw milk, you may be able to taste the difference for yourself. Or not.

– Nora S.