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Feb 3, 2008 09:13 AM

Skim milk v. 2% or whole: shorter life?

Yesterday my wife was discussing milk and said, "Of course skim milk has a shorter life than 2% or whole milk.". Of course? I have never heard that. Has anyone else? Is it true?

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  1. That's my experience.

    1. For whatever reason, I know someone will chime in with the reason, the more fat in milk the longer the shelf life. I hate skim milk-unless I'm in California, it taste better there.What are they doing that's not done on the East Coast?

      As a child my NaNa would get fresh milk and skim the cream off to make butter and we would use the "skimmed" milk for cereal, it was so good and tasted nothing like what's sold in the store now.

      9 Replies
      1. re: hipquest

        "I hate skim milk-unless I'm in California, it tastes better there.What are they doing that's not done on the East Coast?"

        CA law requires the addition of milk solids. A way to discourage milk imports.

        1. re: hipquest

          actually, the best-tasting skim milk - Skim Plus - is only available on the EAST coast!

            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              caitlin, are you sure about the solids? i've read the says nothing but skim milk & vitamins...

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Yes, I'm pretty sure of the solids. That's why it's opaque, and not that eerie transluscent color that skim milk usually has. You can see this on their website:


                1. re: Miss Needle

                  got it, thanks.

                  i love the skim, can't wait until i move back to NY and i can get it again!

                  have you tried the 1% plus omega-3?

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I rarely drink milk. My sister used to drink this brand a lot in college until she realized that she felt a lot better when she got off of milk completely.

                    I haven't tried the omega-3 brand. It kind of seems strange to me. If I had the choice, I'd rather have milk from grass-fed cows which have higher levels of omega-3 than fortified omega-3 milk. When you move back to New York try Ronnybrook Farm skim milk (if you haven't already). It is better than regular skim milk, and their cows are grass fed during the summer and grain fed during the winter.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      thanks for the tip - i've heard nothing but good things about ronnybrook. personally i stay away from most dairy made from cow's milk these days - i primarily use goat's milk products. but maybe i'll give ronnybrook a try. i'm glad it's available at WFM and fairway so i won't have to go running all over the place to find it!

                  2. re: Miss Needle

                    The solids in milk thing, is something that producers of food products rarely mention. Just like labeling blueberry, or any type honey virgin when most likely it's been pasteurized, whereas virgin honey has not. crept in like homogenization. and now large candy makers are seeking to label chocolate byproduct or chocolate flavored products as real chocolate.

          1. I've always been under the impression that skim would have a longer shelf life than fattier milks. Wouldn't the fat be the first thing to go rancid? I googled it and received conflicting answers.

            1. I have to go with your wife's reasoning on this. If you buy heavy cream, you'll notice that it tends to have a much longer shelf life than plain ol' milk. I've always attributed this to the increased fat content. Too bad the same doesn't go for humans :)

              2 Replies
              1. re: diablo

                Most of the cream I see nowadays is ultra-pasteurized, hence the longer shelf life. My experience with ordinarily pasteurized milk is that the lower the fat content, the longer the life.

                1. re: phofiend

                  I'm with phofiend. All pasteurized milk no matter the fat content probably has about the same shelf life. I've fired off an email to the Midwest Dairy Association inquiring about the shelf life of non-fat milk vs. 2% & whole milk. I figure if any organization could shed some light on the subject it would be one like the Midwest Dairy Association. When they answer my email I'll let you all know.

              2. Today I fired off an email to Lori Alden of 'Cook's Thesaurus' at f'', one of my very favorite and extremely informative food websites telling her about the question posed here, and her thoughts. Here's a C & P of the contents of my email and her reply...

                Hi Lori - First off let me tell you how much I enjoy and have used/accessed your website over the years. It is one of the most informative food websites ever. Thanks so much for sharing your extremely extensive knowledge of food and food related products.

                Now I have a 'burning' question. I participate in the discussion boards at ''. And there's a topic someone presented about the shelf life of non-fat milk vs. that of low fat and whole milk. Some are of the belief that non-fat milk spoils or goes bad faster or quicker than low fat or whole milk because of it's lack of fat. I, on the other hand, and some others in the discussion, don't think there is much, if any, difference in the shelf life between them or that it may actually have a longer shelf life. And, I think that is because of the pasteurization process. Such as ultra-pasteurization that many half & half milk products now have on their labels is the reason they have such a far out stale date as opposed to other lower fatted milk products. So...I was wondering which if any of us is correct. - Thanks Lori for taking the time to read and consider the contents of this email. Hope to hear from you soon! - Regards CRT

                Hi CRT,

                Thanks for your kind words about the Cook's Thesaurus.

                It seems to me that cream goes bad faster than milk--which would support the idea that whole milk goes bad faster than skim.

                A food storage table for a University Extension website backs that up:


                Hope this helps!


                3 Replies
                1. re: crt

                  Yeah, I seemed to be the only one on this board that experienced heavy cream going bad faster than milk. It seemed that everybody else faced the opposite. Kind of strange.

                  1. re: Miss Needle

                    you're not the only one. although i don't ever have a need for heavy cream, my 2% milk always spoils more quickly than the skim.

                    makes perfect sense to me, given the greater propensity for rancidity with higher fat content.

                    i was so distracted by the discussion about "skim plus" that i didn't even bother to read all the other posts in this thread. i, too, find it very strange that everyone's milk spoils faster than cream.

                    perhaps they're all keeping the milk on the door where it's more frequently exposed to warmer air, and the cream on a shelf where the cold temp stays constant...? [ok, i know it's a stretch, but i can't think of another explanation :) ]

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      That was my thought about this topic. It seems logical, to me anyway, that skim would last longer than whole milk. In our home my DH only uses skim, but I need whole for certain things, so I get a small whole milk, he gets the larger skim and I always have toss the whole out first. His skim seems to last forever in comparison. And I keep both milks on the top shelf and not in the door.