Supermarket Milk Taste Test

Cowhead, Magnolia, Arla, Nestle, Milk Magic, or Jolly Cow: Which supermarket milk is the best?
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For pairing with your breakfast cereal, guzzling down post-workout, or capping off the night, nothing satisfies like a cold glass (or warm mug) of milk.

While fresh milk reigns supreme, it has the disadvantage of having to be refrigerated, spoiling easily (depending on the source, roughly 7-10 days for raw milk or 2-3 weeks for pasteurized milk) and not being as accessible to everyone.

Thankfully, us mortals have the option of going to the supermarket to pick up commercially-sold milk cartons. These milks are often given the UHT (“ultra-heat treated” or “ultra-pasteurized”) treatment, where the dairy beverage is briefly heated above 135°C to kill spores. This extends its shelf life (about 6 months at room temperature when unopened, and 5-7 days in the fridge once opened) and lets you stock up so you can enjoy milk whenever you please.

But the question remains: how do the different brands in the market differ?

Note: We narrowed down the selection to fresh, full-fat cows’ milk with only cows’ milk as the sole ingredient, and took care not to include any “filled” or reconstituted versions. We tasted each brand on the first day of opening and for the remaining days thereafter before spoiling. Both were tried at room temperature and chilled.

Arla

Arla gives you an especially creamy milk with an especially full flavor. It has a relatively thick mouthfeel for UHT milk and a dairy-rich character. Plus, it has a slight sweetness toward the end that keeps us sipping until the end.

Cowhead

Cowhead’s “pure” milk has a thinner taste and consistency. For the most part it still tastes of fresh milk with a sweetish finish, but you also get a very mildly “cooked” taste (read: Maillard reactions) reminiscent of evaporated milk.

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