The Difference Between Milk Pasteurization and Homogenization

A line of filled milk bottles on an assembly line at a dairy plant.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic has forced many of us make a lot of adjustments in our daily lives. One of the easiest changes to spot is actually in your local grocery store where essential products like milk and eggs are in high demand. In fact, some stores have even placed limits on the amount you can buy.

With milk in such high demand, consumers are paying more attention to the labels on the packaging of milk cartons. For some, this begs the question, what’s the difference between pasteurization and homogenized milk?

No matter if you’re in work mode as a dairy manufacturer or off the clock buying milk for your family, knowing the difference between these two processes is valuable. And in this post, that’s exactly what we’re going to explain.

What is Milk Pasteurization?

Simply put, milk pasteurization is the process of heating up milk, followed by cooling it down to get rid of bacteria. The idea behind it is like boiling water when you’re camping to make it safer to drink.

Oftentimes, stainless steel dairy equipment is used for a process called Ultra-Heat Treatment (UHT). UHT heats milk to about 280 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two seconds. The main benefit of this method is that it can extend the shelf life of the milk compared to using a lower temperature. There is also High Temperature Short Time (HTST) pasteurization, which is a continuous process that efficiently destroys microorganisms in milk products. The recommended pasteurization temperature for HTST is at least 161 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds, followed by a rapid cooling. Learn more about some of the common methods of pasteurization.

Does Pasteurization Make Milk Less Nutritious?

It’s important to remember that the milk pasteurization process doesn’t kill all the bacteria in milk. After all, some of that bacteria is good for you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pasteurization does not reduce the nutritional value that milk offers.

Ever since COVID-19, many people are more health conscious than ever before. Since the pasteurization process kills harmful bacteria, pasteurized milk has seen a rise in demand over the last few months. Thanks to this higher demand, more manufacturers have either started or increased their pasteurized milk production.

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What is Milk Homogenization?

Milk homogenization is a completely different method and usually happens after pasteurization. Think of it as an added step. Homogenization breaks down the fat in milk and prevents it from separating. Without this process, it’s common for the fat molecules in milk to rise to the top of the container and form a layer of cream.

Milk homogenizers push the product into a small area between two pieces of steel. This gap is about as wide as a piece of string. Pushing the milk through this tiny opening breaks up the fat molecules of the milk for a smoother finish.

The Benefits of Milk Homogenization

The main benefit of milk homogenization is that by preventing that top layer of cream, homogenized milk has a longer shelf life. And a longer shelf life is important in times when milk can be harder to find at the store.

The long shelf life is also beneficial for dairy manufacturers. Homogenized milk opens the opportunity to ship your product to customers and stores that are farther away without sacrificing quality.

Find Quality Used Dairy Equipment at Zwirner Equipment

If your dairy business is interested in starting or expanding your milk production, Zwirner Equipment can help. We offer quality used milk manufacturing equipment including homogenizers.

By investing in used stainless steel equipment, you can better meet the high demand for milk while maintaining your budget. Zwirner Equipment has over 30 years of experience helping businesses like yours expand production.

All our dairy equipment and milk homogenizers are fully reconditioned and can be tailored to your production. View our current inventory and find a homogenizer for sale at Zwirner Equipment. Contact our equipment experts with any questions.

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