Ever take a big drink of milk and then – bleh!!*#@ it tastes like a cow? Or super bitter? Or like well-aged parmesan cheese (not in my milk, please!)??
One of the most common calls for help I get from raw milk producers is because their customers are complaining about off-tasting raw milk, they’re giving refunds right and left, and they can’t figure out the problem.
If you drink milk long enough I’m certain you will (like I definitely have) taste almost all these flavors at least once. It happens. That’s the beauty of live animals and unprocessed milk.
Lucky for you (and me), these unpleasant tastes are easily fixed, it just takes some stealth detective work and sometimes just a good scrubbing of your equipment.
Watch the video here, then scroll down to read about the off tastes and remedies:
Here are a few off-flavors and their remedies:
Acid: Basic taste sensation. Sour, tart, may cause tingling sensation on tongue. “Cultured milk” or “sour” odor may be present.
Cause – Growth of lactic acid producing organisms such as Lactococcus lactis, due to poor refrigeration, especially when temperatures exceed 70°F (21°C). “Malty” milks may be acid also.
Barny/Cowy: Unpleasant odor and taste of a poorly maintained barn or unpleasant feed. May be perceived as “unclean.” “Cowy” or “cow’s-breath” may present a similar defect but generally with an unpleasant medicinal or chemical (i.e., acetone) aftertaste.
Cause – Udders not clean/dry; absorbed, transmitted odor/flavor due to cow inhaling barn odors associated with poor ventilation and unclean barn conditions/dirty bedding. Similar defect may be due to ketosis in cows, but with more of a medicinal or chemical after taste.
Bitter: Basic taste sensation. Pure bitter has no odor. Taste sensation is detected on the tongue after expectoration (delayed) and tends to persist.
Cause – enzymatic breakdown (microbial or milk enzymes) of milk proteins to short bitter peptides due to bacteria in the milk – (clean your equipment and dry your udders thoroughly) Certain weeds ingested by cows may also cause bitterness although this is rare.
Fruity/Fermented: Odor and flavor is usually pronounced, similar (not exact) to pineapple, apple or strawberry. Fermented fruit (fruity); may have more of a sauerkraut or vinegar-like odor or flavor (fermented).
Cause – growth of psychrotrophic spoilage bacteria, especially certain psychrotrophic Pseudomonas species or some of the spore-forming organisms (e.g., Bacillus, Paenibacillus). (Better cleaning practices on cow and equipment.)
Malty: Malt-like aroma or taste (like malted milk or Grape-Nuts®). May be similar to feed or cooked odors, but is considered a severe defect as microbial spoilage. Milk often is acid as well.
Cause – Growth of Lactococcus lactis var. maltigenes (or possibly other organisms) due to poor refrigeration. May be followed by “acid” or “unclean” flavors.
Salty: basic taste sensation. No odor. Generally easily detected.
Cause – associated with late lactation or mastitic cows. If you think mastitis is the culprit, test the milk and identify the type so you can treat it.
Luckily these off-flavors are within your control
Did you see the trend above? Main causes of off-tasting milk are improper chilling procedures and dirty cows/equipment. That’s great news because these things are so easy to fix!
Be encouraged – every producer at some point produces off-tasting milk. What’s important is that you identify it immediately (through testing) and remedy it.
Thank you, as usual, for listening, reading, watching and sharing 🙂
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Now it’s your turn! Have you had off-tastes in your milk? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!