Ideas of what something should be can slow down innovation, and misunderstandings are common when something really breaks tradition. Unfortunately, this can lead to producers missing out on potential and product opportunities, and to some extent, this is still the case with long life milk.
The nutritional values of nutrients such as calcium and protein are the same in UHT and other, milder heat-treated milk as they are in chilled milk. However, higher temperatures can destroy sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C, but consumers do not primarily drink milk for these vitamins as they are normally found elsewhere in the diet. Therefore, the nutritional difference between ultra pasteurized milk, as it’s sometimes called, and other milk is minimal – if not altogether negligible.
The long shelf life of UHT milk can lead to assumptions around the use of preservatives, but nothing could be further from the truth. The heat treatment process eliminates all microorganisms, and since the milk comes in an aseptic package, no microorganisms may enter again, ensuring long shelf life. There’s no need for preservatives when nothing risks spoiling the milk.
This myth is likely related to thinking that UHT milk contains preservatives, but it can be just as organic as any other milk. In fact, 80% of all organic milk sold in the U.S. is UHT. The reason for this is that organic farms are unevenly distributed across the country, but they still need to transport products to as many places as possible to access consumers. With no refrigeration required, as well as easy storage and transport, it is no surprise that many producers see UHT milk as a great choice for organic milk.
This one is actually true, at least to some extent. The higher temperatures involved in the heat treatment process give the milk a slightly creamier and cooked taste. It also tastes a bit sweeter, with caramelised tones, which can reduce the need for added sugar or artificial sweeteners. But when UHT milk and chilled milk are kept at the same lower temperatures, the differences are hardly noticeable, and yes, UHT milk can also be kept in the fridge (and should be after being opened).
Is UHT processed milk just another way of saying it’s been through a canning process? Not at all. During canning, the whole container, packed and ready, is heat treated. For UHT milk, these steps are separated, with heat treatment happening first and packaging second. The difference? UHT requires shorter heat treatment, resulting in a product with better quality and improved retention of nutrition.
UHT milk is actually perfect for cooking, and the creamier, somewhat sweeter taste can also reduce the need to add sugar. In fact, many professional chefs prefer UHT milk since it is easier to store and transport.
The integrated edge
Heat treatment has always been at the centre of production in the food industry. As food security and food safety continue to be global issues, efficient and effective heat treatment are at centre stage. This guide shows you how to set process parameters to ensure you meet current legislations.