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Cream Top Issues in Non-Homogenized Grass-Fed Milk

Printed From: Dairy Science and Food Technology
Category: General dairy
Forum Name: General dairy
Forum Description: Dairy science and technology matters not covered elsewhere
Printed Date: 21 Apr 2021 at 10:00pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.03 -

Topic: Cream Top Issues in Non-Homogenized Grass-Fed Milk
Posted By: Russo555
Subject: Cream Top Issues in Non-Homogenized Grass-Fed Milk
Date Posted: 11 May 2017 at 11:29pm

I currently work for a 100% grass-fed, non-homogenized milk processor in Georgia. I have previously worked for a similar processor in Ohio and have had the same issue in both production plants. The issue is a cream top (esp. in whole milk, 2%, half & half) that gradually forms thicker over a few weeks and resists re-incorporation with the milk when shaking. I have read about other non-homogenized milk brands that have products with a clumpy cream top that resists re-incorporation and I am wondering if there is anyone who has a reason for this phenomenon. Obviously the cream top is part of the point, and definitely a customer draw, but having a product that has a hardened cream top by mid-shelf life ends up being a issue with some customers.

Some brands (from website FAQs) recommend spooning out the cream to spread on bread, etc.

I have gathered possible answers from a few folks - e.g. it's the nature of grass-fed fat to be "harder", it's the effect of moving through too many centripetal pumps, it's a seasonal variation.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. Help point me in a right direction or suggest some experiments to help determine a solution. Best solution is one where the cream top stays but lends itself to shaking back into solution throughout shelf-life.

Thanks in advance, 
M. Russo

Posted By: Admin
Date Posted: 22 May 2017 at 4:45pm
Apologies for delay in approving your post. Regretfully buried in SPAM. Interesting query. Let's see what responses come in. There are several forum members that have encountered this issue and hopefully they will post.

I am aware of this issue but have not experienced it directly. I am fairly certain that I have seen it described in old dairy technology textbooks.

Thanks for the query and welcome to the forum.

Posted By: Admin
Date Posted: 22 May 2017 at 10:31pm
I have received an Email from a previous contributor to these forums, John Glynn, who has suggested that you read the article by Sommer and Royer . It is a classic on cream plug which you have described.

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Posted By: Russo555
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2017 at 6:12am
Thank you for welcoming me, and thanks for the lead on the Cream Plug study!

There are a few things that I've taken from the study which we can start to use to alter our processing to help alleviate this issue. For one, the amount of pumps that the milk and cream has to move through probably won't change, but we could slow down the pumps and slow down the agitators in our milk tanks. I have noticed that our agitators whip up a percentage of the half and half and cream that we hold in tanks, and after reading the study, it is clear that the churning of the product as well as the incorporation of air into the product results in a heavier cream plug. 

Sounds like we have to start at the farm bulk tank and see what we see regarding agitators and pumps along the way. Even making sure the tanker is full during its 3 hour trip from the farm to plant would help stop partial churning before reaching our direct control.

I will check in on this thread as I research more and throw out questions as they arise. 

Thank you for your help!

M Russo

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