How to Can Milk – Raw or Store Bought

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In this post we will learn how to can milk. It can be raw milk or store-bought milk, cow’s milk or goat’s milk… They are all done the same. The process of canning milk is not complicated at all and I was pleasantly surprised to taste my milk months later and find it sweet and delicious. It’s a really great way to preserve milk!

I have this fascination with old ways of doing things… If it’s how to tan a deer hide or weaving a basket or preserving food, I always find myself wondering how people did things before modern amenities.

Often when milk from my Lamancha goats starts to pile up in the fridge I make cheese. I usually make feta or goat cheese or my favorite; this easy raw goat milk cheese…  But all those need refrigeration or to be frozen if I want to keep them for a while.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if there is a way for me to keep the milk at room temperature in its original form instead of processing it into cheese…

Can I can milk?

How to Can Milk at Home…

learn how to can milk. It can be raw milk or store-bought milk, cow's milk or goat's milk... They are all done the same. The process of canning milk is not complicated at all and I was pleasantly surprised to taste my milk months later and find it sweet and delicious. It's a really great way to preserve milk!

I did some research and I found that indeed I can can my milk!

I had to give it a try…

Is it Safe to Can Milk…

Well, you’ll have to do the research and decide for yourself.

After spending some time researching I found out two things…

  1. Most modern research says that canning milk at home is not safe…
  2. People have been doing this for generations…

It’s kind of like drinking raw milk, the debate is heated and opinions are very different.

I personally side with grandma most of the time with all due respect to modern research. I drink raw milk and I also decided to try and can it.

It’s a personal decision and, again, you’ll have to research and decide for yourself if you want to do it or not.

Feel free to voice your opinion in the comments below or share your experience, just please keep it respectful.

I will say that though… Milk is a low-acid food. From my research, I found that there are communities around the world that can milk (and can meat) in a water bath canner. Some of them are very close to us like the Amish, for example.

However, to kill bacteria they must keep a steady temperature for 3 hours or so.

It’s very labor-intensive in my opinion and still, the risk for Botulism (a bacteria that can grow in air-tight containers but is killed by high temperatures) is real, so I decided to use my pressure canner to can my milk.

I recommend you use your pressure canner but I did want you to know that there is a way to can milk in a water bath.

Why Would You Want to Can Milk?

There are many reasons… In my case, I just had more milk from my goat than we could drink.

I already had enough cheese in the freezer and I work so hard to keep my goats alive (goats are not for sissies! Not where I live at least, they are the most desirable playground for worms around these humid parts…) that their milk is even more valuable to me.

I raise LaMancha goats. They go into heat in the fall and birth in the spring. So between October and somewhere around April I don’t have fresh milk from them.

I wanted to try to can as much milk as I can to use during those months.

I also thought that it would be great to learn how to can milk so I am not dependent on electricity to preserve it as I would be if I froze it.

If you live off the grid, keeping food without electricity is something you are familiar with.

But even if you are on the grid, it’s still nice to save some energy, or save room in the freezer for other things, or not needing to worry about food spoiling if the electricity goes out (for example, if you live in areas with many storms and power outages).

Another reason to can milk is if you don’t want to need to go to the grocery store often. Some of us live far in the country or are a single person and often a gallon of milk spoils before we can use it all. So canning is a great option.

Another great reason is canning for travel…

If you are packing for a camping trip, going to spend the weekend at the lake, or going on a road trip across the country, canned milk is a great ingredient to pack.

Tools That We Are Going to Need…

Before we start with the tutorial, let’s gather all the kitchen tools that we are going to need…

Jars – I think that the best size of jars for canning milk are the quart jars but you can follow the same tutorial with any size of jar that you choose to use.

Lids and bands – you can reuse bands but make sure to use new lids so we know that the seal is in great condition.

Canning utensils – we’ll use most of them.

Ladle – to help us fill the jars.

Pressure canner – I use my Presto pressure canner. The All-American canner is also popular.

That’s all we need. Let’s learn how to can milk…

How to Can Milk, Step-by-Step…

Jars of cold milk from the fridge.

We start by taking the milk out of the fridge to warm up a little bit.

Don’t can older milk, the fresher the better. This is my supply from five milking (two and a half days) from one goat.

My kids were with their dad over the weekend and I just drink a tiny bit of milk with my morning coffee so the jars just piled up in the fridge.

Preparing the Jars and Canner…

Washing the canning jars.

While the milk is warming up a bit, wash your jars in warm water and check that there are no cracks or chips around the rim. Let them dry for a few minutes.

Sanitizing the jars in the oven.

Next, it’s time to sanitize your jars. You can do this by placing them in a water bath and boiling them for 10 minutes or so, placing them in the dishwasher, or using the oven.

I like the oven method. I place my jars on a baking sheet and heat the oven to 320F. Once the oven is hot I place the jars in there for 10-15 minutes.

Removing the jars from the oven.

After 10-15 minutes, remove the jars from the oven and use the jar lifter to remove them from the baking sheet. Place them on a towel and let them cool down.

We want the jars and the milk at a similar temperature so the jars don’t break.

Sanitizing the lids and rings.

Place your lids and rings in a pot of water, bring to a boil and hold that boil for 5 minutes or so.

You can reuse rings but make sure you use new lids each time so that you know for sure that the seal is good.

Adding water to the pressure canner.

Let’s also fill the pressure canner with some water. I have a Presto pressure canner that I love! You will have to follow your canner’s instructions but if to be honest, I could not find any instructions in the manual on canning milk so I went with 2.5” of water.

I also left the tray in there.

Filling the Jars With Milk…

Filling the jars with milk.

Once the jars cooled a bit and the milk warmed a bit and the difference in their temperature is not too great, I fill the sanitized jars with milk.

Leaving 1/2'' headspace.

Make sure to leave 1/2’’ headspace.

Make sure you do not touch the rim or the inside of the jar with your fingers! I used a canning funnel to make sure the milk goes in the jar and not all over the place.

Cleaning the rim of the jar with a paper towel.

Use a paper towel to clean the rim of the jar, again, DO NOT touch it with your fingers!

Covering the jar with a lid.

Use the magnetic lid lifter to lift the lid from the pot of hot water and place it on your lid. Do not touch the bottom of the lid with your fingers.

Jars are ready for processing.

Now, use the ring to close the jar (not too tight, finger tight), and we are ready for processing!

Processing the Milk in the Pressure Canner…

Placing the jars in the canner.

Use the jar lifters to lift the jars and place them inside the pressure canner.

Covering the canner and turning the heat on.

Close the canner and turn the heat to high.

Watching for steam to come out of the vent.

Now we are watching the little nozzle for steam. It took my canner 18 minutes to reach the point where I can see steam coming out from the nozzle.

Once the canner starts to steam let it exhaust steam for 10 minutes before placing the gauge on the nozzle.

Placing the weight on the vent.

Before placing the gauge on the nozzle.

Now watch your pressure gauge, once it showed you 11 psi (it will take some time…), turn the heat off immediately and let the canner cool completely (this may take an hour or two).

Adjustment For Higher Elevations…

Pressure canner altitude adjustment table.

I’ve never canned milk in higher elevations but I assume that you’ll have to adjust according to the table above.

So, for example, if you live at 4500ft in elevation instead of turning the heat off when the canner reaches 11psi you’ll have to wait until it reaches 15 psi or 13psi depending on what kind of canning you are using.

Removing the Canned Milk From the Canner…

Removing the jars from the canner.

Wait until the dial shows 0 pressure and then remove the weight If steam doesn’t come out anymore, it is safe to open the canner. Please be careful when you remove the weight.

Place a towel on the counter and use your jar lifters to remove the jars from the canner and place them on the towel. Now let the jars rest and cool completely for 24 hours.

We are done!

How to Store Canned Milk…

Storing canned milk - how to can milk.

After the milk has cooled completely store it in a dark and cool place like in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet for example.

You will see the cream separating from the milk and that is normal and completely fine. The milk also turns a bit of a yellowish color.

It should store for a year or so but I plan to just use it over the winter until my goats freshen again in the spring.

It seems like everyone agrees that you can use it for cooking but not everyone agrees with drinking it. Many do though. If you do use it for drinking I think it tastes better if chilled.

Once you open a jar you do have to make sure to store it in the fridge and use it within a couple of days.

If you’d like to read more about canning milk, my friend Heather from The Homesteading Hippy shares her experience in her post Home Canning Milk via Pressure Canner.

If you give this a try come back and let me know how it went, or share your opinions or experience in the comments below.

If you liked this tutorial, you might like these as well…

How to make Goat Milk Soap

Homemade Crock-Pot Yogurt

Homemade Soft Cheese Recipe

How to Can Milk

How to Can Milk

Yield: 3 quarts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

How to can milk at how step by step.


  • Milk


  1. If your milk was in the fridge, take it out and place it on the counter. We want the milk to warm up a bit.
  2. Meanwhile, wash your jars (I use 3-quart jars) with warm water and soap. Place them on a baking sheet.
  3. Heat your oven to 320F. Place the jars in the oven for 15 minutes to sanitize them.
  4. Also, place your bands and rings in a small pot, cover them with water, set on the stovetop and bring to a boil. Let the water boil for 5 minutes to sanitize the bands and lids.
  5. Take the jars out and turn the oven off. From this point on, do not touch the rim of the jars with your fingers (use the jar lifters if you need to move the jars).
  6. Place the jars on a cutting board or a kitchen towel and let them cool for a few minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, set your pressure canner on the stovetop and add 3 quarts of water to your canner (or follow manufacture directions). This is about 2.5'' of water (I use a Presto dial gauge canner).
  8. Use the canning funnel and a ladle to fill the jars with milk. Make sure to leave about 1/2'' headspace.
  9. Clean the rim of the jars with a clean paper towel, center the lids, and close the jars with the bands, fingertight.
  10. Place all of your jars on the rack in the pressure canner.
  11. Close the canner and turn the heat to high (do not place the weight on the vent yet).
  12. watch the vent. When steam starts to come out, set your timer to 10 minutes. Let the canner steam for 10 minutes.
  13. After 10 minutes, place your weight on the vent and watch the dial. When the canner reached 11psi, turn the heat off and let the canner cool completely (please see notes for pressure adjustments).
  14. Once the dial shows 0 pressure (it might take the canner a couple of hours to completely cool), open the canner.
  15. Let the jars rest in the open canner for a few minutes before removing them.
  16. Set your jars on a kitchen towel and let them cool completely (I usually leave them overnight).
  17. Check that your jars have sealed. Remove the bands, wipe the jars, and store in the pantry.


If you live in an altitude higher than 1000ft, you will need to change the pressure. Please check the table in the post for more altitude adjustment information.

You might notice that the cream separates from the milk in the jar. This is normal.

You might also notice that your milk get a yellowish color to it. This is also normal.

I use quart jars but you can follow the same process with any size of jars.

I try to use my canned milk within a. year.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 quart
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 125Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 20mgSodium: 127mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 9g

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180 thoughts on “How to Can Milk – Raw or Store Bought”

  1. I can raw cow’s milk. I have used it for cooking as well as drinking. My husband is not a fan of it as a drinking option, but while I find the taste slightly different than fresh milk, it is still very good.

    1. To me, it tastes like evapurated milk. I won’t just drink it but I have no problem adding it to my coffee or chocolate milk. I mostly use it to make french crapes and pancakes though.

    1. I use the Presto pressure canner and yes, 3 quarts (which are about 2.5 inches) is all I add. If you use any other canner it’s a good idea to read the manual just in case.

  2. How lucky that you have raw milk! I’m a retired dairy farmer and I’d still have a cow if it weren’t for bad arthritis in my hands. (Didn’t feel like it was worth it to wash all the equipment that I still have for the herd.) Anyway, I have canned milk using the directions from when the USDA still said it was OK.

    The old directions are: Pressure can at 12 pounds for 13 minutes.

    I’m not crazy about the way the milk turns out, but it’s ok for cooking. Generally I freeze milk, but it will separate if you freeze it for too long of a time, too, so rock and a hard place type of thing.

    There is NOTHING like fresh, raw milk. I was raised on it and drank it all my life and having to buy milk from the store now is quite a let down.

    1. There is really nothing like it. You are right. I can milk too. Waiting for my two goats to give birth so I can have it again! Blessings!

    1. Yes. But notice that there isn’t really processing time. You turn the heat off as soon as it reaches the right pressure.

  3. This is my first time canning whole cows milk and I am in awe at how easy it is! My tummy is very touchy with the store bought milk but I can drink it straight from the cow so I’m am pleased to find ways to preserve it as my freezer has limited space from last hunting season. Thank you so much for these easy to follow steps! I look forward to ‘fresh’ milk out of season!

    1. I had exactly the same reaction the first time that I preserved milk! I could not believe how simple it was. Honestly, it even tasted better canned! It gets sweet. I hope you’d like the taste.

      1. I’ve just started thinking about canning again and saw somebody canned milk in a group I’m in. We raised Nigerian Dwarfs and are thinking of getting them again. This is just amazing! It was always “feast or famine” with milk producing times.
        Thanks so much for your step by step instructions!

      2. You are welcome. It’s really simple to can milk. I have LaMancha goats and I always can as much as I can during the season. I use the canned milk to make pancakes and French crapes and other stuff. Thanks for stopping by!

    1. I’ve never made so I don’t know the process. But you’ll have to pressure can it. I don’t think that it will be the same processing time as canning milk though…

  4. Can you can store purchased milk as well as fresh? We are wanting to do this like you said for a power outage or getting snowed in during the winter

  5. Hi. Ok im confused. You go through the usual process of venting for 10 mons then put on weight then you say turn off heat and let it cool? But you didnt pressure can it. How long do you pressure it at 10lbs for? And what size jars? 45 mins? 60mins? 75 mins? 90 mins?. Also what headspace? Its best to put some vinegar in canner to help stop it staining.. also 21 quart presto takes 3 quarts of water. Thanks for info

    1. You don’t process it with the weight. Once the canner vented for ten minutes you place the weight on and turn the heat off. That’s it. Then you just let it cool slowly. I processed quart jars, but you do the same for pints.

      1. I let it vent for 10 minutes, put the weight on and watched the gauge rise to 10# pressure. Once it reached 10# pressure I turned the heat off and waited for the latch to release. Once that released I waited another 10-20 minutes (actually I replaced my toilet fill valve during that time) before I took the weight off and carefully opened the lid. I canned store bought milk in quarts.

      2. According to the adjustment table, you should adjust your pressure to 15 if you are using a weighted gauge canner or 13 if you are using a dial gauge canner. I’ll try to do the rest the same way and see if the jars seal. So instead of turning the heat off when the pressure reaches 10 wait until it reaches 15 or 13 depending on the canner that you are using.

  6. Lov this. So simple steps. I am canning bought milk, because I live 50 miles from grocery. I have canned milk before, but wanted to see if any changes were made. Thank you

    1. I just finished my last jar. The milk is so good after canned! It makes it sweeter. I don’t live that far away from the grocery store but my goats are giving me a lot of milk and I enjoy preserving it.
      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. You let the canner exhaust steam for 10 minutes, place the gauge on the nozzle, bring the pressure to 10 psi and immediately turn the heat off. There is no processing time at 10 psi.

    1. I filled my canner with 2.5” of water. You have to follow your canner manual but I couldn’t find mine so I went with 2.5” of water and it was just fine. I use the Presto Pressure canner.

  7. Darlene landis

    I would like to can milk but dint have a pressure canner. How long would you recommend doing so in water bath?

    1. It is not recommended to process milk in a water bath and I have never done it but if you scroll through the comments you’ll see a comment from Karen. She says she processes it in a water bath and she does 90 minutes for quart jars. You can also reply to her comment directly and ask her a question if you want. The site should notify her and maybe she can answer.

  8. I have pressure canned milk for about 5 years now which I grew up around canning my great grandma and grand ma and mother we store it in a cool dry place and we put a jar in fridge to chill and it’s like drinking fresh milk I also can fish and deer and other meats It is so nice to have when we can’t get out in the winter months My mother just opened a jar of milk the other day that I had canned 3 years ago and she said it was like having fresh milk from a cow

    1. 3 years! Wow. I still didn’t open my jars. I am saving them for when my goat is dry. I am excited to try it. Thanks for sharing this!!

  9. Karen Pennebaker

    I have canned goat milk in a water bath canner – 90 minutes for quarts. It works fine in recipes but tastes kind of like evaporated milk after it’s canned. My granddaughter used a lot of it for baby goats. The book “Goats Produce 2” suggests that water bath canning is better and we had no problem with it.

    1. That is awesome! Because a lot of people don’t have a pressure canner. I didn’t have one for a long time. And it’s a great tip to can milk for baby goats! I had triplets born in the spring and when they were six weeks old their mama died on me! Goat formula is expensive! I didn’t think about canning milk for baby goats. Thanks for mentioning it!

  10. Sally Harclerode - London, England.

    How wonderful to find your site!
    I live in London, England and I have a brilliant source of raw goats milk – Ellie’s Dairy and your clear & concise method of canning it is something I shall certainly try – as soon as I can locate the weight for my pressure cooker!
    And I, too, am a user of Essential Oils and am fortunate enough to be a client of Valerie Ann Worwood who is the most wonderful Aromeratherapist. Apart from being one of the most knowledgeable people on the use of EO, she saved me from going blind by feeling that the pressure in my left foot was too high.
    And to Sheri – I wonder if you spent WW2 in the UK? Rationing sounds very English.. as if you experienced it over here as opposed to over there!
    Thank you Lee for putting together an interesting and very informative website.. like MacArthur said “I shall return”.

  11. That’s awesome Lee! I don’t can milk myself but I do keep a supply of canned milk in my pantry, mostly for pie making but let me tell you something, I remember old days and war days. I remember rations and drinking canned and powdered milk. 100% of the kids (young adults) today have no idea “at all” what it means to have rationed foods. We were a military family and knew we had rations that we could depend on each month….and I remember feeling a bit guilty because we had more than our neighbors had…but we shared when we could. You keep doing what your doing, keep stocking that pantry and learning the “old ways”. Blessings!

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