From field to fridge: how our milk is made 

Written by Ollie Wilkinson

Strap on your science goggles and whip out the lab coat, because we’re about to show you the science behind the milky way. No, not the galaxy. Or the chocolate. We’re talking about how our deliciously farm-fresh milk is made! 

We know it magically appears on your doorstep in the morning, but a lot of hard work goes into delivering milk from the farmer’s field to your fridge. Take a sneak peek behind the curtains of one of our dairies and check out what goes on behind the scenes, and how our return and reuse system works in real life!  

The best things in life are (plastic) free 

At the Modern Milkman, we like to keep our supply chains shorter than Mini-Me’s Mini-Me, ensuring only the freshest produce gets dropped on your doorstep.  

There’s no tiresome transportation and frivolously futile food miles with our milk. Delivered in return and reuse glass bottles, it comes fresh from the farm, causing the planet no harm! 

Grassroots: where does milk come from? 

We put waste and cows out to pasture, ensuring both are firmly in the long grass. Because just like happy chickens lay fresher eggs, happy cows produce the best milk.  

We only work with the UK’s finest independent farms and dairies, ensuring a level playing field by paying them what they deserve for producing delicious grub and treating their animals with kindness. 

Each of our dairies and farms is audited every year to ensure the high standards of animal welfare are upheld, and that all animals are free from: 

  • Thirst 
  • Discomfort 
  • Pain 
  • Injury 
  • Disease 
  • Fear and distress 

Wanna see our dairy cows having an absolute field day? Check out this video of the spring turnout

A milky smooth operation: how milk is made 

Dales Dairies – who supply fresh milk for our milkrounds in Leeds, Wakefield, Halifax, Bradford, Harrogate and York – have around 250 cows, who each produce around 35L milk a day! 

How cows are milked 

Their cows are milked 2-3 times a day using vacuum cups, which are attached to their teats. The milk is then sent through stainless steel pipes to large, refrigerated vats and stored at 5°C or less, to preserve its freshness.  

Within 48 hours, the milk is taken in tankers to a factory where it’s pasteurised and homogenised. Speedy, ay? 

Keep your eyes on the pasteurised 

What is pasteurisation? 

Pasteurisation is a fancy word for the sterilisation (another fancy word!) process of food and drink.  

Why is milk pasteurised? 

The Food Standards Agency advise that “unpasteurised milk and cream may contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning”, but pasteurisation uses heat to ensure these are destroyed and that it’s safe for consumption. 

What is the pasteurisation process? 

Our dairies pasteurise milk by heating it to 72°C (for no less than 15 seconds) and cooling it immediately to destroy any harmful bacteria and micro-organisms. This not only makes it safe for sipping, but also ensures it stays fresh in your fridge for longer.  

Reducing food waste and keeping you safe, that’s pretty darn nifty in our book! 

The cream of the crop 

We know what you’re thinking: but what about the fat globules!? Not a day goes by where I don’t think about those bloomin’ globules. The question on everyone’s lips, right? And don’t worry, we’ll get to that part very soon. 

What is homogenisation and how is it done? 

To produce milk that’s the cream of the crop, you must stop the cream from rising to the top. This creates the most consistent texture and taste, and requires a process known as homogenisation. Hey, don’t look at us, we warned you at the start things were gonna get scientific. 

Homogenisation involves putting milk under pressure through fine nozzles, which evenly disperse fat globules (told you we’d get there eventually) to maximise smoothness. 

It’s skimming time 

The Power Rangers… Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles… The Powerpuff Girls… JLS… Many of life’s superheroes are colour coordinated. Milk is no exception, with almost a full rainbow of different coloured lids. 

These lids tell us whether milk is skimmed, semi-skimmed and so on. But how does it get that way? Well, once our milk has been pasteurised and homogenised, its cream is then ready to be removed or reduced. This process – known as centrifugal separation – is how we get reduced-fat, low-fat and semi-skimmed milk

Skimmed milk solids are sometimes re-added to improve the taste and texture, preserving precious nutrients like protein and calcium. 

Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of milk 

Once our milk is ready to go from grass to glass, we use a bottling line to sustainably package it in return and reuse glass bottles with foil lids, which have helped prevent almost 100,000 wheelie bins of plastic from entering landfills and the ocean! 

This process moves pretty swiftly, with soap (that big yellow chunk you thought was butter) used to grease the line! 

The bottling machines are around 50 years old as they’re not made anymore – hey if it’s not broke don’t fix it! 

A milkround that delivers on its promise 

Now that the milk is signed and sealed, it needs to be delivered! Packed in crates, our fresh milk is sent to hubs and delivered to your doorstep by our hard-working milkies, all before that first glorious sip of your morning cuppa. 

The clean, green machine 

We think plastic is a load of bull, and that’s why our fresh cow’s milk arrives in glass bottles that you can rinse and leave on your doorstep for us to collect.  

Every drink – from our milkshakes and soft drinks to our fresh spring water – is delivered in return and reuse glass bottles, giving your wheelie bin and the planet a much-needed breather. We think that glass bottled milk tastes better, and that’s the same for all our bottled drinks. 

Once our milkies have collected your empties, they’re returned to the dairy for sterilisation. Steamed, cleaned and living the eco-friendly dream, these bottles are reused roughly 25 times! 

Every day’s a school day 

And there you have it, the genie (and milk) is finally out the bottle. Our top secrets have been revealed. Curious about all the other magic that goes into our green milkround? Check out our other eye-opening blogs below! 

Look how much plastic we've saved!

46,459,870

Plastic bottles saved and counting

110,768

Wheelie bins of plastic saved from landfill

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