Non-homogenized milk (also known as cream top milk, or cream-on-top milk) is a type of milk known for the layer of cream that naturally gathers and forms a layer on its surface. More specifically, it refers to milk that has not gone through the process of homogenization.
What Does Non-Homogenized Milk Mean?
Firstly, homogenization is the process of breaking down fat molecules so that they remain suspended and emulsified in the milk, instead of collecting at the top.
Non-homogenized milk has not gone through this process. It’s fat molecules are left intact and full-sized.
As a result, the cream inside non-homogenized milk, which is comprised of fat, naturally clumps together and rises to the top. Hence its alternate name: “Cream top milk”.
This cream can be shaken or mixed back into the milk before consumption. Alternatively, some like to scoop out the fresh cream and put it in coffee, spread it on toast and other baked goods, or even add it to various recipes.
Is Non-Homogenized Milk Safe?
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding non-homogenized milk is that it has not been pasteurized.
This is untrue: Non-homogenized milk is generally pasteurized, but not homogenized. The two are distinctly different processes.
In reality, pasteurization is a heating process that kills off any bacteria in the milk, whereas homogenization involves breaking down fat molecules mechanically.
Non-homogenized milk is indeed safe. As mentioned above, it usually goes through some sort of pasteurization, leaving it free of bacteria.
Some may be intimidated by the cream layer that forms on top of non-homogenized milk, perhaps mistaking it as a sign that the milk has gone bad.
However, the cream on top is merely a feature of non-homogenized milk. Indeed, some view this creamy layer as a bonus.
Homogenized vs Non-Homogenized Milk
Most of the milk sold in stores nowadays is homogenized. But this does not mean it is better.
So why is milk homogenized?
The main reason milk is homogenized is because dairy companies prefer the convenience of milk that is uniform in consistency and taste across different herds of cows.
This also makes it easier for brands to further process the milk into different varieties, such as skimmed, 2% and whole. It also has a longer shelf life as a result of homogenization.
That being said, non-homogenized milk has been growing in popularity in recent years. Here’s why:
Benefits Of Non-Homogenized Milk
One of the first things people notice when they first drink non-homogenized milk is its creamier texture, as well as its richer and slightly sweeter taste.
For this reason, some chefs prefer to use non-homogenized milk, and to take advantage of the cream top in their recipes.
On top of this, some believe non-homogenized milk is healthier because it is less processed and more natural.
Indeed, the fat content in homogenized “whole” milk is artificially kept at an industry standard of 3.5%.
In reality, raw cow milk contains anywhere between 4% – 6% fat. This is considered healthy dietary fat, and cream top milk will have a fat content a lot closer to this range.
There are also other health concerns with homogenized milk that should be considered before you make a decision on which milk to drink.
Disadvantages Of Homogenized Milk
Though homogenized milk has become commonplace in grocery stores around the world, there have been some health concerns surrounding it more recently.
For starters, the homogenization process not only breaks down fat molecules, but also some of milk’s most beneficial nutrients, including vitamin A and D.
Nowadays, milk manufactures will often fortify homogenized milk by adding these nutrients artificially after the fact. But there are doubts over how well the body can absorb and use these exogenous nutrients.
What’s more, there are also concerns regarding free radicals in homogenized milk, which some experts speculate can be produced through the homogenization process.
These are molecules that can interfere and cause problems with cell growth and regeneration in the body. They are often associated with various diseases, including cancer and accelerated aging.
Historically, there have also been studies that suggest homogenized milk can contribute to heart disease and other disorders through a particular enzyme in milk.
It’s worth noting, however, that the evidence surrounding these concerns are not conclusive. As of now, both homogenized and non-homogenized milk are considered safe by mainstream experts.
Where To Buy Non-Homogenized Milk?
Though homogenized milk remains the dominant form of milk in stores worldwide, non-homogenized milk has been rapidly growing in popularity.
You may find them in various health food shops and certain grocery stores. In some areas, you may even be able to buy it directly from a farm.
If in doubt, you can always order it online and get exactly what you want.