Friday, February 14, 2014

What does the USDA really say about Canning Milk?

We are going to have a gentle discussion of the topic of pressure canning milk. I have always recommended that you do the research & determine what is best for you & your family. When I decide to do something, generally I will read as much as possible from “reliable sources”. So I am asking you to read the following information first, before making a comment.
When I first heard of canning milk I oft “heard” that the USDA doesn't recommend canning milk.
 I felt at that point that I must add that same disclaimer that is isn't recommended by the USDA. Because I had seen it written by “other people” so often.  
Well, today I spent several hours reading and re-reading the USDA and National Center for Home Food Preservation and this is what I found: This is the type of research I do for myself. Here is what I found.

From the USDA website Link posed in 2011, there was a link to the
You are able to read & off print all 7 publications from 2009. These guides included the following CompleteGuide to Home Canning, Guide 1: Principles of Canning.
I paid particular attention to page 6 and the discussion of “Growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum in canned food may cause botulism—a deadly form of food poisoning”.
This bacterium “survives harmlessly in soil and water for many years”. 
Botulism is dangerous.  Please read these links. It explains why using the proper pressure canning guidelines are needed to "to ensure the destruction of the largest expected number of heat resistant microorganism in home-canned food."
In my opinion, if this is the basis for not canning milk, then it would apply equally to vegetables which are actually gown in dirt. 
If you look at the chart on page 7, there is are notes on the chart: 
At 212 degrees: “Temperatures are used to destroy most bacteria, yeasts and molds in acidic foods. Time required to kill these decreases as temperature increase,”
Then you will note at 204-250 degrees the “canning temperatures for low acid vegetables, meat and poultry in a pressure canner.

Then on page 8: “Low-acid food have pH values higher than 4.6 They include red meats, seafood, poultry, milk and all fresh vegetable except for most tomatoes.”
The same document includes this chart...

USDA Chart
Please enlarge this chart so you are able to see the entire chart, including milk at the bottom..
What I did find was this caution in a document about How Do I Can...Soup.
Caution: Do not add noodles or other pasta, rice, flour, cream, milk or other thickening agents to home canned soups.” In another publication "These ingredients can slow down the rate of heating and these process times have not been tested for use with soups containing these ingredients".

Which included links to Using a Pressure Canner and Principles of Home Canning (listed above) I could be wrong, but I believe that people are extrapolating their stand from this one single line.

What I am asking is to show me a recognized document from the USDA or NCHFP that states it is unsafe to pressure can milk & why. I could have missed it, I am human. 

That is how I made my decision that pressure canning milk was safe for my family. 
Let me be real specific here: If you choose to use this method for storage:


And yes I am shouting, all caps, bright red letters because I want to make sure you understand what I am saying. That being said: if you want to know how I pressure can my milk here is the link: White Stuff From Cows

Just another note: a
lso, on the National Center for Home Food Preservation, under FrequentlyAsked Questions, there is an article (it's the last question on the page) I read which dealt with canning butter, and it only referenced not water bathing butter. It didn't address pressure canning. Here is my research on canning butter: What Does the USDA Really say about Pressure Canning Butter


  1. In support of your conclusions: canned milk is sold in the stores. Yes, it is not "home canned," but the princies that make it safe are the same as those used in home pressure canning. Just because the USDA has not published guidelines for it, does not mean they do not approve it. Thanks for all your information

  2. I canned some pudding and cakes using water bath u think they will have a good shelf life? Do u think this is a safe method? Have you tried this? your work..

    1. No. Please don't eat that pudding. PLEASE. Milk is a protein food, a low acid food, and it absolutely must be pressure canned.

      This means that there is no way to preserve pudding at home (other than the freezer). Besides, pudding is quick and easy to make, AND you can make it from safely canned milk. I've done it.

  3. The National Centre for Home Food Preservation used to offer an on-line course for home canning. When I took it (several years ago now) my recollection about the home canning of milk was the concern regarding the milk fat surrounding the spores providing insulation that prevents them from being killed. As a result, the home canning of milk wasn't recommended at that time. Having said that, I still canned my own milk using a pressure canner and processing at 100 minute per pint which is the high end of the recommended processing time for low acid foods. The processing does affect the taste. I personally found the milk sweeter once processed. After trying everything from skim to whole milk I finally stopped because my wife didn't care for the taste and I was only doing it for her in preparation for provisioning for off-shore sailing.

    1. Hmm. Milk fat covering the spores. There are recipes for meat with fat, that seems the same to me.

      How does pressured canned milk taste? 75 minutes for pinrs and 99 for quarts like meats or 100 minutes like fish?

  4. is the corrected address for the USDA guide mentioned above.

  5. Ever wonder what they do to make those pudding packs on the store shelves? Radiation?

    1. Commercially canned items are done at a much higher temp than 250 degrees. In addition, when it comes to puddings and fruits, they add a lot of preservatives, too.

    2. You know, I read this comment and laughed. Because I thought the idea was nuts. Then I found something and had to go back and re-open this blog page.Yet somehow, it is these same people who are so concerned with my safety that they disapprove of me canning using a weck jar, or canning a plant based milk such as soya. Wow. Radiation pasteurization is actually a thing.
      See link below!

    3. They freeze dry the milk and the eggs in commercial preparations of pudding packs. That is perfectly all right. Certainly not radiation.

  6. Have anyone here canning the condensed using pressure canner to make dulce de leche? How many minutes did you process that in pressure canner?

    1. i want to know this too! i just got a cow and want to make homemade sweetened condensed milk, then maybe further boil the whole can to make dulce de leche, or just can dulce de leche i make in a pot. it would be a great gift but i can't seem to find out whether its safe or not.

  7. Raw milk is pasteurized at 165 degrees put in a jug and sold. Why?

  8. I buy my kids shelf stable chocolate milk in plastic and cardboard cartons...from Costco...? Pressure canned in glass must be better than however they "can" those!