What is Ultra High Temperature (UHT) Pasteurization?
UHT pasteurization, sometimes referred to as ultra-pasteurization, is a process in which milk or other dairy products are heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for a brief time—just two seconds—and then quickly cooled back down.
In this post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of UHT pasteurization in comparison to high temperature short time (HTST) pasteurization.
Benefits of UHT Pasteurization
- UHT-Pasteurized Products Last Longer: UHT pasteurization extends a product’s shelf-life by months, making it an extremely cost-effective option.
- UHT-Pasteurized Products Contain Less Bacteria: The high heat required during UHT pasteurization results in milk that is up to 99.9% bacteria-free.
Disadvantages of UHT Pasteurization
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of UHT pasteurization is its effect on the taste of milk. Many people agree that UHT-pasteurized milk exhibits an overly cooked, burnt taste. On the other hand, UHT pasteurization can be ideal for flavor-forward products like fruit juice, cheese sauce and yogurt because sweeteners, salt and other ingredients may help to mask the burnt taste.
Benefits of HTST Pasteurization
- HTST Pasteurization Minimizes Risk of Milk Product Damage: Consumers prefer the taste, which is why it’s the most commonly used method of pasteurizing milk in the United States.
- HTST Pasteurization is Effective in Reducing Bacteria: Although not as effective as UHT-pasteurization in reducing bacteria and other microorganisms, HTST pasteurization strikes a great balance between food safety, long shelf-life and uncompromised flavor.
Disadvantages of HTST Pasteurization
Compared to UHT pasteurization, one slight disadvantage of HTST pasteurization is reduced shelf-life and the need for an unbroken cold chain. Or, in other words, a completely temperature-controlled supply chain—from packaging and shipping to the refrigerated section of the retail environment.
Which Type of Pasteurization is Right for You?
Choosing the right type of pasteurization process for your dairy product is a complicated decision with multiple variables to consider, including the type of product, the viscosity, the temperature profile needed, the flowrate and any pressure drops that may be involved. In a future post, we’ll explore a few of the most common applications for HTST pasteurization and UHT pasteurization. In the meantime, check out our accompanying post: What is HTST Pasteurization to learn more about the details behind this related topic.
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