Canning and Preserving Milk at Home

May 21, 2010|Comments (74)


Canning milk is not a new concept. Stroll down the aisles of any given supermarket and you’ll be sure to find a shelf full of canned goat milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and even soy or almond milk. Well, folks, preserving milk is not some sort of sorcery. Today, I thought I might show you how it’s done. Ready?

My dining room table w/ homemade bread with eggs & milk from our farm


Before we get started, I would like to point out that you cannot preserve milk in a boiling water canner or a water bath. Milk (like meats, stock, green beans, etc.) is a low-acid food and must be processed at a high temperature in order to destroy any Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Botulism bacteria, which occur naturally in soil, water, and on the surface of fresh foods, grow even in the absence of air. If the botulism bacteria haven’t been destroyed by proper heating, a sealed jar is a perfect place for them to grow and produce the deadly toxin.

First, gather your canning equipment: glass quart jars, pressure canner, rack, lids, and rings. Thoroughly wash everything in hot soapy water and then sterilize in boiling water (I load everything into the canner, fill the canner with water, and then boil for 15 minutes). Be sure to inspect the jars for cracks. Do not use cracked or nicked jars for canning.

If you are using milk from your own goats, sheep, or cattle then be sure to wash the animal’s udders clean before milking (I know that you already do that and didn’t need reminding but just remember that jars of peanuts must display “Product contains nuts” on the label.) Collect the milk in a clean & sterilized container and then pour the milk through a filter. I filter the milk twice before canning — just to be on the safe side.


Prepare the canner so that the rack is in the bottom and fill with the appropriate amount of water (follow the manufacturer’s instructions — I fill mine to the first fill line). Bring the water in the canner to a boil on high heat. Add a few tablespoons of white vinegar to prevent lines from forming on the jars.



Fill a hot (and sterilized) quart jar with the raw milk leaving 1/2 inch of headspace.


Place a hot lid on the jar with one of those nifty magnetic lid lifters (do not touch the seal-side of the lid).


Screw on the ring and set aside.


Fill & cover each jar until you have enough to process one batch. Now place the jars on the rack in the canner.


Secure the lid on the canner and allow the steam to flow from the canner for 10 minutes.  I like to stay close by during this time.  Crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and thumb-twiddling come in handy.


Bring to 10 Lbs. of pressure. For quarts, process for 25 minutes. For pints, process for 20 minutes.

Now remove the canner from the heat source and allow to cool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions so that you know the proper time to open the lid.


Once you open the lid, the jars will still be bubbling but take a moment to look at the color of the milk.  It should have a honey/caramel tone.

Remove the jars and place them a flat surface to cool. Once the jars have completely cooled, check the lids to make sure that they have properly sealed. Remove the rings, label the jars (with month and year), and place in your pantry.

Canned milk should be used within one year of being canned and makes for lovely gravy, soups, puddings, cakes, and breads. Because of its caramel color and cooked taste, it is unappealing on cold cereal or in a drinking glass.  This milk shouldn’t be used to make cheese because… well… it simply won’t work.

Just for fun, I found and read this neat article from Current Opinion (circa 1918) about canning goat milk and a goat ranch in Monterey County, California.  Enjoy!

Comments (74)| Leave a comment

  1. Kristine on May 21st, 2010 1:35 pm

    Wow! I’m so impressed!

  2. Simple Livin' gal on May 21st, 2010 1:36 pm

    Awww, thank you, Kristine!

  3. kerry on May 21st, 2010 1:53 pm

    i had no idea you could home-can milk. would the process be similar for canning caramel or butterscotch sauce?

  4. Simple Livin' gal on May 21st, 2010 2:06 pm

    I’m not sure what your recipe is for butterscotch or caramel sauce. It depends on what is in it… Ball (Blue Book) Canning offers this recipe and if yours is similar then I would process according to their directions:

    Maple-Walnut Syrup
    Makes about 4 (8 oz) half pints

    You will need:
     1-1/2 cups corn syrup
     1 cup pure maple syrup
     1/2 cup water
     1/2 cup granulated sugar
     2 cups walnut pieces
     4 (8 oz) half pint glass preserving jars with lids and bands


    1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

    2.) COMBINE corn syrup, maple syrup and water in a stainless steel saucepan. Add sugar and heat over medium, stirring until dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring constantly, until syrup begins to thicken, about 15 minutes. Stir in walnuts and cook for 5 minutes.

    3.) LADLE hot syrup into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.

    4.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

    Hope that helps. If not, let me know and I’ll see what I can come up with. I have amassed quite a collection of canning books. :)


  5. Rosa on May 21st, 2010 2:16 pm

    Very interesting!



  6. Twitter Trackbacks for Canning and Preserving Milk at Home : Razor Family Farms [] on on May 21st, 2010 3:41 pm

    [...] Canning and Preserving Milk at Home : Razor Family Farms – view page – cached Canning milk is not a new concept. Stroll down the aisles of any given supermarket and you’ll be sure to find a shelf full of canned goat milk, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, coconut milk, and even soy or almond milk. Well, folks, preserving milk is not some sort of sorcery. Tweets about this link Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['linda_strom'] = {“photo”:””,”url”:””,”nick”:”linda_strom”}; linda_strom: “Canning and Preserving Milk at Home : Razor Family Farms ” 26 minutes ago view tweet retweet Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['razorfamilyfarm'] = {“photo”:””,”url”:””,”nick”:”razorfamilyfarm”}; razorfamilyfarm: “Home canning milk: ” 2 hours ago view tweet retweet Filter tweets [...]

  7. Julie at Elisharose on May 21st, 2010 6:16 pm

    Lacy, you are a wonder. I could sit at your feet and listen for hours.

  8. Thy Hand on May 21st, 2010 6:19 pm

    Fascinating! I didn’t know this could be done. I need milk access and a pressure canner first, but I’m happy to know it’s possible.

    Oh! I just got my organic bug spray in the mail today and sprayed it on my always infested with aphids rose bush. Thanks, too, for your note- I feel as if we’re almost related :-) !!

  9. Dianne on May 21st, 2010 6:38 pm

    Wow, Lacy! I’m impressed too! I never thought about canning milk. What a great idea!

  10. Melissa Moncur on May 21st, 2010 9:37 pm

    That is funny you posted this today…I was canning chicken all day today and strawberry jam all day on Wednesday. It’s that time of year. I love it.

  11. Sophie on May 22nd, 2010 9:49 am

    hello lacy!!

    i am truly impressed, my friend!

    The endresult says it all!!! Beautiful!

  12. rachel ashmore on May 22nd, 2010 10:13 am

    OK that is just SO interesting!!! I wonder If ill ever be like you one day….

  13. Nicole on May 23rd, 2010 4:39 pm

    Why would you can one of natures perfectly good foods and ruin the nutritional value? Making processed food at home is not much better than buying them at the store, with the exception that you know where it came from…

  14. Simple Livin' gal on May 23rd, 2010 4:58 pm

    Nicole — You bring up an excellent point! Why can milk at all? Well, our dairy goats do not produce milk all year long so I try to preserve some of their milk to be used during the dry months.

    And you are exactly right that canning foods at home ensures that you know where the food came from. What better reason to preserve some of your garden than that?

    By the way, not all of the nutritional value is lost when food is processed and not all processed foods are bad for you. It’s true! Here, read this article and see for yourself:


  15. Jessica on May 28th, 2010 12:51 pm

    Do you know if you can use the same process for canning soy, rice or almond milk?

  16. Simple Livin' gal on May 28th, 2010 1:08 pm

    Jessica: Yes, I think the same process would work for those varieties. Just make sure you have a good solid seal and you should be fine. :)

  17. Teresa on June 1st, 2010 12:45 pm

    I am wondering if you first take the cream off the top of fresh cow’s milk or do you leave it in?

  18. WP Themes on June 8th, 2010 2:42 am

    Genial brief and this mail helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you seeking your information.

  19. Mary on June 22nd, 2010 2:19 pm

    I was happy to see this recipe for canning milk. My mother canned cream for years. We lived in a rural area, and didn’t have readily access to a grocery store, so she had canned cream on hand for her many delicious german recipes.

  20. Canning Milk In Your Kitchen on June 26th, 2010 4:13 am

    [...] is an article from Mother Earth News and one from Razor Family Farms. There are two tidbits here in the Ask Jackie section of BackwoodsHome. Posted in Angie, [...]

  21. Wordpress Themes on July 1st, 2010 4:54 am

    Genial fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.

  22. Pamela Carson on November 9th, 2010 4:03 pm

    Thank you so much for publishing this. I looked everywhere, knew it could be done (watched grandma 50 yrs. ago) but needed the details. Just put up 8 pints of LaMancha milk, it went very well. Time to dry out the girls and get ready for Feb. Mil gracias!

  23. Frugal Ideas for Storing Milk | LubbockCouponGal on January 31st, 2011 7:27 pm

    [...]  –  Yes, apparently you can can milk.  Here are some instructions on canning and preserving milk at home.  [...]

  24. Rose Richardson on February 17th, 2011 10:52 am

    Way cool idea! My Mother when I was a kid was a top notch canner and preserver and would have loved this one!

  25. >Home Canning Milk « thesustainablehome on March 9th, 2011 1:22 pm
  26. Kathleen Bull on April 10th, 2011 11:48 pm


    As part of my hospitality exam for year 12 (senior year) I chose preservation as my topic and used the example you gave on canning and preserving milk at home.

    We didn’t have a canner but used a large heavy based pan with a well fitting lid. It took much longer than your procedure stated but I assumed this was because you used fresh milk straight from the farm and I used milk from the supermarket.

    When I received my results back from the teacher she marked me quite badly and said that all I had produced was boiled milk.

    My question to you is this – does the procedure you show produce boiled milk or evaporated milk. I would like to ask my teacher to re-mark my paper and I would like to know what you think.

    Thank you very much for taking the time to read my email.

    Awaiting your response


  27. Anita Chamblee on April 19th, 2011 3:38 pm

    We used your method yesterday and canned 32 quarts. Thanks for all the help!

  28. Staci on April 22nd, 2011 11:16 am

    Great info! I just put up a blog post with a video on how to can milk for those who need to see it in action. This video however uses different processing times and the result is a lighter milk that can be used over cereal. You can see it here:

  29. Carol on July 4th, 2011 3:13 am

    i am interested in making and canning my own sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. will this method work for that?

  30. Carol Dague on July 29th, 2011 12:53 pm

    Thanks for your clear directions. One question I have is does it matter if the milk starts out cold from the refrigerator or must it be warm from the animal?

  31. Muhammad Shahid Bhatti on September 13th, 2011 1:24 am

    Simple Livin’ gal (Razor Family Gardens.

    I am From Pakistan Graduate in Computer Science. I am planning to start a business of Milk. Please tell me what is the best way to transport the fresh buffalo of cow milk for 2 to 3 hours.
    I want to make 1 liter pack in polyethylene. What is the process to safe the milk for 3 to 5 days.

    Muhammad Shahid Bhatti

  32. Kathy on September 22nd, 2011 1:55 pm

    Thanks so much for the info. Now we can can our own goat milk too.

  33. kay on October 24th, 2011 12:07 pm

    What a great idea..!! We milk 350 and certianly have plenty of milk to try this. I think it would be great in the cheese sauce of my lasagne and will save me going down to the dairy to find the tanker has already
    Thank you.

  34. Flourish on October 29th, 2011 8:22 am

    Thanks very much i now no how to preserved milk

  35. robyn dolan on November 16th, 2011 12:55 pm

    Just linked to this from my page
    Have been canning milk this way for years with great results.

  36. Victoria M on December 13th, 2011 10:49 pm

    Katt… In order to correctly can milk you have to use a pressure canner. The way you described suggests you did a Hot water bath on the milk, which is a unsafe method. Please do not drink or use any of that milk! By canning milk it does not create evaporated milk. That is a different process of boiling off 60% of the water in the milk before canning it. Yes technically your teacher is correct.. you did make boiled milk.. which is what you would get anyway by either procedures you used… Just one is a safe version and one is not. Unsure if your teacher thinks that canning ( preserving ) means you should have created a new product thou then what 1st you started out with?

  37. melody sprecher on December 22nd, 2011 7:36 pm

    I have been given lots of store bought 2% milk. I cannot freeze it from lack of freezer space. Can this milk be canned and used for baking later down the road?

  38. Jeanne Davis on January 23rd, 2012 7:52 pm

    I am so excited to have found your article! I have been searching high and low for information on canning a caramel sauce containing butter and heavy cream, but all I’ve found are nay sayers because it isn’t (supposed to be) safe to home can dairy products. Would you think my sauce could be safely canned in a pressure canner using this canning method?

  39. Donna on January 28th, 2012 10:55 am

    Can I can my fresh frozen milk?

  40. sophia on March 5th, 2012 11:58 pm

    I am wondering…. what nutritional values are left after boiling for 25 min at 10 pounds of pressure.I’ld like to make a coffee and milk drink and try and can clam chowder or broccoli or potato chowder with some cream or milk in it. Can anyone tell me some precise information or add an experience regarding this?

    waiting hopefully,

  41. bobby on March 22nd, 2012 3:45 am

    i have seen several people wanting to know if you can, can store bought milk, but i haven’t seen any answer to the question??? lots of people don’t have access to whole fresh milk and it is illegal to sell it and buy it and you can go to jail for it! so would someone please answer the question?? can you can store bought milk???

  42. Lynn Shields on April 27th, 2012 4:50 pm

    I have been looking forward to this day for quite awhile. Yes, I canned my first batch of goat milk! (Good thing I had prior knowledge that the end-product would be somewhat caramel-colored, as they certainly are.) In the pictures, it appears that you’ve canned just 3 quarts . . . .in a pressure cooker that would hold maybe 6 jars. I was taught (somewhere along the way) that if I only need to, lets say, process 4 jars, that I am to fill the remainder of the pot with jars of water (another 2 jars), complete with lids, even. So my question for you is, “Hmmmm. . . . is any of this extra-jar-business really even necessary?” If it’s not necessary, I’d be tickled pink to stop that step, for sure. Thank you so much for the info I’ve gleaned here. . . . I learn so much on the net these days.

  43. Erin on May 10th, 2012 11:12 am

    Your article is very helpful. I’m wondering, “can” you can pasturized milk? (From your own animals and processing of course). And is this cows milk? Will this method work with goat or sheep milk?

  44. jinny on July 12th, 2012 12:34 am

    That great! Very helpful article. If you can share more information on how to pasturize milk that will be great!

  45. Marci on July 15th, 2012 6:46 pm

    I know that the USDA says not to ever home can dairy products. I believe that the protein and fat insulate bacteria from the heat so even pressure canning can’t kill it. I would not try this.

  46. Nat on August 14th, 2012 9:26 am

    I was wondering if any of you have ever canned homemade coconut milk? If so do you follow the same step as above??

  47. mudbranchranch (christina) on August 17th, 2012 6:14 am

    Thank you so much you told me exactly what I wanted to know.
    You can only make so much cheese. Also this will be a very important addition to my emergency food.
    Christina (mudbranchranch)

  48. Denise on September 11th, 2012 3:40 pm

    I have never canned milk before and was wondering if it is possible to can milk from the grocery store. Already pasterized milk.

  49. Sandra Fru on September 14th, 2012 1:20 am

    I would appreciate knowing if it is safe to can store purchased 2%
    milk. I am runing low on freezer space and due to gas expense, would like to avoid driving as much as possible. Canning 2% would be a real help. Tj\hank you

  50. Sandra Fry on September 14th, 2012 1:22 am

    This site is a God send. Thank you. I’ve learned much.

  51. jean on September 16th, 2012 5:53 am

    Erin: there’s no point in pre-pasturizing milk before canning it. The heat of the canning process is higher than pasturizing temperature.

  52. Kara on September 20th, 2012 6:32 am

    Great instructions! But I do have a question … I assume that this can also be done with store-bought milk, too?

  53. Canning Homemade Coconut Milk | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page on October 17th, 2012 9:01 pm

    [...] Canning and Preserving Milk at Home : Razor Family Farms Here's a guide. Reply With Quote « Previous Thread | Next Thread [...]

  54. Gerrie on October 31st, 2012 12:23 pm

    In your article you don’t say ant thing about removing cream do you do that? Also do you heat the milk before putting in jars..Thank You

  55. Damon on November 4th, 2012 6:48 am

    My partner and I absolutely love your blog
    and find many of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.
    Do you offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome blog!

  56. Deborah on November 5th, 2012 1:50 pm

    I had no idea you could can so many things.. My mom always put up her figs and jellie but this is just amazing :)

  57. Natalie on November 19th, 2012 11:07 am

    This is very informative! I’m hoping to can some chai tea I make with milk. Perfect! Thanks for the help.

  58. Boohoo on November 21st, 2012 7:51 am

    Best thing to do with milk is tip the garbage out. Save you the trouble of canning it as well as do your health a massive favor.

  59. Leslie Burckard on January 11th, 2013 9:07 am

    Can this be used for making ice cream? Can store bought whole milk /heavy cream be used? I have no access to raw milk where we live.
    I make our ice cream and recipe requires 3 cups of cream and 1 1/3 cups of whole milk. It is 200 miles trip to the want to have the ingred always handy. thanks.

  60. Ray on January 11th, 2013 10:04 am

    Great article. Thank you for writing. I will never can milk but am glad to have info to share with someone who might

  61. Vanessa on January 14th, 2013 10:44 pm

    What adjustment do you need to make to the pressure for altitude? I’m above 8,000 feet, will taking the pressure up to 15 do?

  62. Kelly on January 15th, 2013 8:16 pm

    I am you can use store bought 2% milk to can, my goats are not producing milk as of yet.

    If it does not have the cream of right from the cow/goat will it turn carmel color? Since it is the milk sugar that turns tan from what I understand.

    I am going to attempt this very soon.

  63. Betty Belcher on January 22nd, 2013 2:10 am

    Did it, and its in the basement for future use. THANKS!

  64. Cathy on February 3rd, 2013 10:46 pm

    I am curious if you have ever canned homemade sweetened condensed milk? Looking for a recipe to do this. I have made it homemade, but I’d love to take the next step and pressure can it, but I am a little unsure on the specifics.



  65. Vienna Wright on February 5th, 2013 11:21 am

    Question? Can you make yogurt out of canned milk

  66. Dori L Oakes on February 19th, 2013 12:13 pm

    Can you make soap with it?

  67. Carrie on April 1st, 2013 12:28 pm

    I followed your directions to can coconut milk and now i have 20 pint jars of curdled milk chunks.
    I was really looking forward to doing raw cows milk but now i’m hesitant.
    Have you ever had this issue or has anyone else?

  68. on June 6th, 2013 9:23 am

    Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or
    go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Thanks!

  69. jessica on June 19th, 2013 1:56 pm

    What is the process for canning milk in 2 qt. jars?

  70. brenda on June 27th, 2013 2:15 pm

    Was trying to see if i could can cheese or milk in recipies like chowders and if you can can milk I would think it would be fine to can recipies with dairy…..what do ya think?

  71. Terence on August 1st, 2013 5:10 pm

    So having enough chicken recipes in the kitchen would be
    rewarding. When a coating such as bread crumbs are applied to the meat the flavors and coating will
    cover a greater amount of the meat’s surface offering more of these flavors per bite. This is certainly cheaper than taking them out for fast food and fried chicken is very simple to make.

  72. Tracey on September 19th, 2013 9:23 pm

    My answer to USDA..they say its ok to send chicken to China and be processed and sent back to the us..and not required to be labeled as such…. is safe..idk but not sure I would rely in everything they say as correct……IMO

  73. Patricia on October 7th, 2013 11:36 pm

    Hi! I’d like to know if you tried canning rice pudding. I’ve done it before, but I used the water bath and even though the jars did seal, when I tried and opened one of them, it had gone rancid. Any suggestions? Thanks! :o )

  74. Robin on December 28th, 2013 10:12 am

    when you say “strain” the milk, what do you strain thru and what are you straining out? Also, if I have more than one batch to do, can I let out the steam at the end of the first so the second can go in sooner? Thanks! beautiful article, exciting possibilities

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