How to Can Milk and Make Pudding From Canned Milk

Making cheese and yogurt isn't the only method of putting up your surplus dairy products. Use a pressure canner to can milk.

  • 087-080-01-im1
    Includes a caramel pudding recipe for home-canned milk. 

  • 087-080-01-im1

If you loathe having to fork over hard-earned cash for store-bought milk every time your dairy animals enter a dry spell, you'll be glad to know that the solution to that problem is as handy as your regular canning equipment. You see, you can store the fluid protein produced by your cow, goat, or ewe for pennies a quart . . . and then keep the sealed jars on hand for six months or more.

Why and How to Can Milk

You might wonder why anyone would want to bother canning milk when the dairy liquid is available fresh at the grocer's any day of the week. After all, it's a well-known fact that home canning isn't the easiest of chores. Then again, perhaps it seems to you that excess milk could be put to better use as versatile yogurt and cheese.

However, if you intend to drink milk provided by your own animals when they have no fresh available, you'll just about have to can some of that spring surplus. Drying the dairy product is next to impossible . . . while either cheese or yogurt would make a lousy cup of cocoa. And although freezing is a fine way to put up homogenized milk, this procedure is less satisfactory for untreated cow's milk. When thawed, the "raw" product separates into watery liquid and flakes of milk fat. The homogenized nature of ewe's and goat's milk does make them more suited to freezing, but the amount of space you'll want to allot to frozen dairy surplus is likely to be limited.


The method I use to put up milk is the same process that my grandmother employed . . . except that she used cow's rather than goat's milk. If you want to try this procedure, begin by sterilizing all the milking equipment by rinsing it in boiling water. (And wipe the animal's udder clean with a warm, damp cloth to prevent contaminants from falling into the milk pail.) Once the perishable commodity is safely bucketed, strain it through several layers of sterile, thickly woven, soft cotton cloth (or a sieve made especially for the task) and into a clean enamel, stainless steel, or glass container. Then cover the vessel with a clean, porous towel so that the milk will "breathe" yet remain dust-free while it cools. 

At this time, check your canning jars for nicks or cracks . . . wash the containers in hot, soapy water . . . and submerge the rinsed jars in clean, hot water until you're ready to fill them with milk. You'll also need to boil the canning lids and rings in a pan of water for a few moments, then let them bathe, removed from the heat, in the sterile liquid.

Now, fill the jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace at the top of each container. (Because I like to be sure that no uninvited particles have a chance to stumble into the milk, I filter the harvest a second time during this step.) After wiping the rims with a clean, damp cloth, cap the jars with the sterilized lids and rings. When that's done, gently set the flasks on the rack of your pressure canner, add the appropriate amount of water (check the instructions that came with your cooker), and place the whole shebang over the hottest part of the stove.

4/16/2020 4:28:19 AM

Many people can milk and live. No doubt about it. However, it is a game of Russian Roulette. I'm with Alex Darc and Clemson University on this one. Foodborne botulism is rare. Nonetheless, the extreme danger posed by the bacteria is real. This danger includes a mortality rate of up to 65% when victims are not treated immediately and properly. Most of the botulism events that are reported annually in the United States are associated with home-canned foods that have not been safely processed. The USDA nor any university home ec dept or extension recommend canning milk. Their findings are based on the science of botulism. Milk is virtually non-acidic and so is an environment that botulism likes to grow. Do most people who can milk live and use it live to tell the story? Absolutley. Botulism is rare. Can botulism form in low acid products like canned milk? Absolutley. Can botulism kill? Absolutley? Even kill my kids and family? Absolutley. Am I willing to play Russian Roulette and risk their lives? Absolutley NOT.

Alex Darc
9/30/2019 11:50:02 AM

11/16/2011 6:52:24 PM

Just posted a link to this on my page. FYI, have been canning milk this way for years and no illness yet.

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters