Obviously, if you don’t agree that home-canning milk is safe, then don’t do it. This isn’t something that everyone feels safe with and, as always, use your judgment!
Grocery stores nowadays are filled with different types of milk products. Evaporated milk, soy, coconut milk, milk powder…the list goes on. These products can be very expensive and so we try to find ways to save money by storing as much as we can.
Hmmmm… well, if you are only able to get groceries once a month like I am, buying several gallons of milk makes sense. BUT, trying to store the milk in the fridge and freezer is very space constraining.
So, being that I use a lot of milk for cooking, I decided to try and can some.
And you know what? It works! The flavor doesn’t change, and neither does the consistency; the texture is just fine!
We use it to cook, and if I need some for butter, granola, sauces, cakes, puddings, or drinking, I chill it well before opening it. I can also use it to make sweetened condensed milk and milk powder.
The following tutorial is based on my research, and what I felt was the best method for doing this.
Well, the jury appears to be “out” on that. According to Clemson University, canning milk nd dairy is not safe to do at home.
This is because raw milk, milk products, and dairy products in general, are low-acid foods and are often prone to contamination by botulinum toxin.
However, many homesteaders, preppers, and home canners disagree. As always, please use your own best discretion and if you don’t think it’s safe, don’t do it.
What does the USDA have to say about this? Their latest food safety guideline (2015) actually mentions milk among the list of low-acidic foods that could potentially cause botulism. They actually do it under a section titled “Food acidity and processing methods”.
In addition, on the same page, they state that:
Whether food should be processed in a pressure canner or boiling-water canner to control botulinum bacteria depends on the acidity of the food.https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/general/ensuring_safe_canned_foods.html
This and the lack of warning for canning milk suggests they didn’t deem it dangerous. If they had, they wouldn’t be mentioning a risky food right in their canning guidelines.
Some Statistics: Why Do People Get Sick?
So why do people get sick with salmonella and botulism, then? According to this study, they do not follow the canning recipe to the letter.
Even so, the fatality rate when it comes to foodborne botulism is extremely low, 25.6 of Americans a year based on these stats.
A 2004 study suggested that 20% of households do home canning in America. Let’s say 15% because people aren’t canning so much anymore.
The average household size is just shy of 3 people / household.
About 40-50 million Americans consume home canned goods every year, around 26 of them die of foodborne botulism, and we can assume all of them because they didn’t follow the recipe.
The downside to all of this is that there are no studies to show exactly how dangerous milk canning is, so you can either:
- A) rely on the stats above to deem it safe or
- B) decide it’s not worth the risk
The key thing not to get this bacteria is to follow the canning recipe and instructions to the letter.
As such, the website thehomesteadinghippy.com and the current owner of this piece of content disclaim any liability for any injury or any side effect as a direct or indirect result of applying the advice given in this article.
We won’t be there to ensure you do this right, so please follow the recipe to the letter. 🙂
Here’s How I Can Milk!
What You’ll Need:
- One-Pint canning jars for storage
- Canning lids
- Kitchen towel
- Funnel for pouring milk into jars
- Pressure Canner
- Vinegar to sterilize the jars
- Rocker and/or Pressure Gauge
Step 1: First, you are going to start off with well-washed jars. I used pints because it was much easier to work with in terms of storage, and usage.
Step 2: Rinse the jars out with vinegar to sanitize them.
Step 3: I didn’t want any water in there, nor did I want the jars hot, so this was what I came up with. I then rinsed them out to get rid of the vinegar and placed upside down on a towel to dry.
Step 4: Heat the canning lids to a simmer…this softens up the seal and gets the lid ready to can. Muy importante!
Step 5: Pour the milk into clean, rinsed jars. Yes, this milk was cold, so that’s why I didn’t want to have hot jars. Cold milk going into hot jars can lead to cracks in the glass due to thermal expansion.
Step 6: Wipe off the rim of the jar, add the lid and band, and screw it on finger tight.
Step 7: Open the steam vent on the canner, and then let the steam vent for 10 minutes. This part took about 35 minutes to get to, then the 10 minutes=45 minutes of waiting time total.
Step 8: Add the rocker and set it for 10lbs pressure. A rocker is a pressure-regulating weight that rocks back and forth as the pressure reaches whatever you’ve set it to – in this case, 10 Ibs.
Step 9: As soon as the rocker began to rock, or the pressure gauge was at 10lbs., I IMMEDIATELY turned off the heat, and let the canner cool.
Step 10: Remove the jars, wipe them off, and voila! Canned milk!
Water Bath Canning Isn’t Approved by the FDA
Some home canners use water bath canning as well but this method doesn’t reach the required temperatures to kill off Clostridium Botulinum (botulinum bacteria). It also isn’t approved by the FDA.
Pressure canning milk may be an option for you in certain situations. Do your research and make an informed choice.
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.