TLDR for jars and plastic lids (NOT for metal lids).
1. Soapy scrub
2. Acid rinse (diluted vinegar)
3. Sanitize (diluted bleach)
4. Air dry
5. Leave lids off in bag/cooler. Lids lock in smells!
Minnesota permits on the farm raw milk sales as long as consumers provide their own containers. At Straight Up Outside LLC, we fill jars directly from our bulk tank. We keep a spout on hand so that we can fill any small mouthed containers with tight sealing lids you’d like to use.
After frequent uses, jars often retain scents or grime. It’s best to keep a good wash routine to ensure milk taste, quality, and shelf life. For those with a dishwasher a sanitize cycle with air drying is best. For those without a dishwasher or anyone looking to deep clean jars, check out the following tips to keep jars squeaky clean!
1. Dish Soap
The first step is to wash jars with hot, soapy water. In the farm shop, we use a dairy utensil cleaner, which is a higher concentrated food grade dish soap. In your kitchen, your standard Dawn (or other brand) dish soap will work well! Be sure to scrub hard on the rim of your jar, this is where milk likes to build up and remain! Funky smelling jars often have milk hardened on the rim.
Tip: use a bottle brush left from baby bottles or purchase a bottle brush from the dairy section at Fleet Farm. This will help to reach deep in jars!
2. Acid Rinse
In the farm shop, we use a phosphoric, food grade acid rinse solution. In your kitchen, this can be duplicated with vinegar! Fill your sink with hot water, add 1 cup per gallon of food-grade, distilled white vinegar. Soak and scrub jars as much as needed! The vinegar will help to dissolve milkstone, which is dried milk fat globules. Even those using a dishwasher for cleaning should do an occasional acid rinse on jars.
Side bar: an acid rinse is also a way to remove cloudy residue on the glass of your jars resulting from hard water!
3. Sanitize Solution
The final step for both the farm shop and at-home washing is a sanitize solution. It’s important to use an unscented, food grade bleach for this rinse. When diluted, bleach is safe and will not affect the taste of your milk. When followed by air drying, all of the bleach will dry off of your jars. North Dakota State University recommends 2 TBSP bleach per gallon of water. You might recall from your restaurant dishwashing days that the final sink was a bleach soak!
4. Air Dry
It’s important to have completely dry jars, air drying is best.
Leave your lids off in your cooler. When sealed shut and left for a while, jars will pick up the smell from lids and trap in any cleaning solution residue and smell.
Metal lids. Skip the sanitize step with your metal lids! The rubber seal on these lids hold bleach and will make your milk taste and smell like bleach! Similar to what is needed for canning, boil metal lids in water.
Note: metal lids have an expiration. The rubber on lids lock in smells. Smell your lids after washing and throw away anything that’s rusted.