Yes, You CAN Make Yogurt From UHT Treated Milk

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strained or greek style homemade bulgarian yogurt
A tub of homemade and strained Bulgarian yogurt from December, 2022

The above photo was used on my post about making Bulgarian Yogurt. The reason is because I don’t have too many photos of the yogurts I have made, although I have a few that show some different steps in the process. However, this photo was taken when I successfully made yogurt from UHT treated milk with this Bulgarian Yogurt Culture.

I have been making my own yogurt for many years and as I explored the subject, I kept running across so-called experts claiming you cannot make yogurt from UHT Milk. This seemed a bit odd to me as UHT milk contains lactose – the necessary ingredient for cultures that turn milks into yogurt. But the “experts” would make interesting claims about milk changing its structure when its heated to a high temperature – but milk may also change some “structure” when it’s heated to a regular pasteurizing temperature.

What Is UHT Milk?

I’ve never really come across it in Canadian grocery stores – but maybe that’s because I never looked for it. In Europe, it is very common however. You find on the shelves in cans or in 1 litre (possibly larger quantities) containers.

I’ve drank a lot of ultra-fresh milk in my lifetime as I’ve worked on a dairy farm and hand-milked “Bessy,” the only milking cow on the TL Bar Ranch in Alberta when I worked there. But the fresh milk was handled in a sanitized fashion and there were never any problems drinking this fresh unpasteurized milk.

A normal pasteurization of milk that you find in the refrigerator section of your grocery is milk that has been heated to 70C. This temperature is high enough to kill any pathogens in the milk, but it also includes killing “good” bacteria is present when the milk comes from the cow. Pasteurized milk will keep without going “bad” for anywhere between 12 and 21 days, although in Greece, they have a type of milk that is labelled as being pasteurized, but will only keep for 7 days refrigerated. I am not sure what that is all about.

UHT milk AKA Ultra Pasteurized, on the other hand, is heated to a temperature between 135C and 158C which is maintained at that temperature for several seconds. This milk can then be packaged in sterile containers and has a shelf-life of up to 6 months (some say longer) without refrigeration. But once opened, it needs to be refrigerated and should be able to stay before going bad for 7 days.

Is UHT Milk As Nutritious?

My research says no, it is not. Heating the milk to this temperature is going to “lower levels of vitamins and minerals in boiled milk, including vitamin B2, B3, B6, and folic acid — in some cases by as much as 36%.” (Source WebMD).

But if you need to, for some reason, stock up on milk, it can be a good choice. It will still provide some nutrition.

However, to my taste buds, it simply does not taste very good!

Now recall that you need lactose in your milk in order to make yogurt. Well, the lactose content of UHT Treated milk stays the same. A lactose-intolerant person will have the same reactions drinking UHT treated milk as regular pasteurized milk. But to make things a bit more confusing, it is possible to get lactose reduced UHT Treated milk. This won’t work for yogurt.

So, How Do You Know The “Experts” Are Wrong About UHT Milk and Yogurt, Big Shot?

Because, I actually tried it. I was recently “gifted” 6 litres of the stuff back in late September or early October, and because I do not like it, I thought I would test the “experts'” claims that it could not be made into yogurt, so I’d know for myself.

The one step I left out of my normal yogurt making process was that I did not bother to heat the milk above around 35C. When it hit that temperature, I turned off the heat, and added the Bulgarian yogurt culture.

Then, I let it sit in the oven with the oven light on overnight – about 8-10 hours. When I checked it in the morning, I definitely had yogurt!

I then drained off the way to make what we now call a “Greek-style yogurt,” and consumed it. The flavour was not fantastic; it seemed to be lacking in something, but it was quite tolerable.

So, yes, you can make milk from UHT treated milk, as long as it has not been lactose reduced. And don’t always believe the opinions of some who set themselves up as “experts” and give you meaningless reasons as to why you can’t do a thing, like make yogurt from Ultra-Pasteurized milk.

My advice though is to make yogurt from milk that has not been UHT treated, if you can. Keep that UHT stuff for an emergency.

What do you think of UHT milk? Have you ever made yogurt with it? Leave a comment below:

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  1. Pingback: Make Genuine Bulgarian Yogurt - Ian Scott

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