How to Pasteurize Milk at Home

By David Grimes

While you can consume raw milk, it isn't recommended, as milk can sometimes contain bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. Home pasteurization kills these harmful bacteria, making the milk safer to drink. It is also gentler than commercial pasteurization, which heats milk to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Because of the lower pasteurization temperature, home pasteurization has little affect on milk's nutritional value. You can pasteurize milk at home using a stove or microwave.


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Stove Top


To pasteurize milk on a stove top, you need to constantly stir it to avoid scalding the liquid. Stir the milk continuously and take the temperature with a quick-read thermometer. Remove the milk from the stove top after it has been heated to a temperature of 161 F for 15 seconds.

Double Boiler


The best way of pasteurizing milk is to use a double boiler, which heats the milk evenly, leaving no chance of scorching or burning it. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring it to a boil. Once it is boiling, place a second smaller pot, double boiler or a metal mixing bowl over the opening of the pot. Fill the top receptacle with milk, and stir occasionally, heating the milk gently. Once the milk has reached 161 F, keep it at this temperature for 15 seconds, then turn off the stove and remove the top pot from the double boiler.



You can pasteurize milk with a microwave, but it is not the best method, as microwaves don't heat milk evenly. However, if you give your milk a stir once or twice during heating, you can successfully pasteurize milk this way. Heat the raw milk in a microwave-safe pan, stirring occasionally. The milk is pasteurized once it has reached 165 F.

Importance of Cooling


Quickly cooling your heated milk is key for the pasteurization process. Gradual cooling milk is a breeding ground for pathogens and bacteria. To cool pasteurized milk, cover the pot or bowl you used to heat the milk and place it in an ice water bath. Replenish the ice as needed until the milk has reached 70 F. Store your cooled, pasteurized milk in an airtight container in the fridge.