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Jul 21, 2011 11:15 AM

Raw Milk?

I live in Italy and am here (in the South Bay) for the summer, looking for raw milk. We've been enjoying Straus Creamery's milk, but it's not quite the same. My research has led me to Organic Pastures and Claravale Dairy, I believe these are the only dairies offering raw milk in California, and I'm wondering if anyone can recommend one over the other? Thanks!

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  1. Welcome to San Francisco! Both OP and Claravale are delicious. OP milk tastes similar to Strauss in my opinion. It also seems to sour quicker than the Claravale. Our local neighborhood store carries Claravale, so that's what I end up picking up most often. We love it. It does have a slightly different taste...more grassy? And honestly, I also like it because it does not come in a plastic container.

    18 Replies
    1. re: wontonsoup

      Yes, those are the two brands that are available locally. I'm back on the pasteurization bandwagon after some unpleasant results.

        1. re: eleonore

          I'm curious, too.

          I don't buy it much, but the Claravale milk is really tasty. The first time I gave it to my daughter, I didn't tell her it was other than the Strauss milk she was used to drinking.

          She immediately said it was the best tasting milk she'd had.

        2. re: SteveG

          I have had bad digestive issues with raw milk (Claravale, specifically) when it was not exquisitely fresh. For me that means buying raw milk from very small local stores with closed refrigerators on same the day it is delivered, and preferably within hours (I get mine from Casalegno's in Soquel). IMHO raw milk simply does not hold up to a conventional grocery store distribution schedule, or to sitting out in an open grocery cooler. Also, it doesn't keep. After a few days in my own refrigerator it still tastes fine but I start having more GI issues with it then as well.

          I adore the taste of raw milk like few things on this earth, and I will gladly seek it out when the timing is right, but its definitely not a food I can just buy and drink as thoughtlessly as pasteurized milk. It is a special occasion food and I have to plan my schedule around it. :)

          1. re: petrelline

            That was pretty much my experience. I don't want to name brands or anything, but I had GI issues that correlated with drinking raw milk that did not smell off and was within the expiration date, but was a few days after I bought it. I would buy it again if I knew I was going to use a lot of milk in a 2 day period, but I won't buy it again for everyday cereal consumption.

            I should probably have some friends help me do a blind milk tasting, but at the moment I like Clover Organic the best over Strauss and the raw milk options.

            1. re: SteveG

              There are many good health reasons that milk and other dairy is pasteurized.

              1. re: Windy

                Fresh milk, yes. Cheese, maybe not so much, if you compare listeria statistics between France and the US.

                  1. re: takuhead

                    Raw-milk enthusiasts and people seeking tighter regulations tend to slant the data to promote their causes.

                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                    There are a variety of techniques a cheese producer will use to make raw milk safe, including heating & holding temp during the cheesemaking process but not all the way to pasteurization, combined with the aging process. I visited Bohemian Creamery for a tour and the owner takes local raw milk and draws it just barely over the legal limit before starting the cheese process. She has the legal documentation to prove every batch, but one could easily see how a producer in another country could do a bit less, knowing the aging process overcomes a lot of bacteria.

                    And, of course, aged raw milk cheese is legal in california.

                  3. re: Windy

                    Yep. I'm on the pasteurized milk and cream bandwagon. But I love cultured raw milk products, and will continue to buy them (cheeses, yogurts, etc.)

                1. re: petrelline

                  Raw milk does not "spoil". It cultures and turns into kefir. I drink it that way. Maybe that is why I am A healthy 92.

              2. re: wontonsoup

                thanks for your insights! The glass container definitely appeals to me. I guess I'l have to try both and see which I prefer, I was just wondering if one was significantly "superior"

                1. re: wontonsoup

                  In my experience with dairy, both raw and pasteurized milk and yogurt, glass containers sour suddenly and quickly.

                  Less an issue with plastic and (longest keeping but worst environmentally) cartons with screw caps.

                  I would love a source for small amounts of raw milk, since I almost never finish it before it spoils.

                  Glass gives most cold drinks a good taste, although you might be able to achieve this by pouring into a glass and refrigerating for 15 minutes.

                  1. re: Windy

                    I've been buying Straus milk variously in glass and plastic packaging for years, and can't remember the last time any went sour. So long as you store it at 40 degrees or less there's no physical difference between glass and plastic that would affect how fast it sours.

                    If you leave a glass bottle out long enough to warm up, it will take longer to cool down again, so if you leave your milk out of the refrigerator a lot, it probably will sour quicker in glass than in plastic.

                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Claravale and Organic Pastures milk area bit different = Claravale is Jersey Cow milk - so it is more yellow usually in color - and I find it a bit creamier - there seems to be more cream at the top. Both taste best when they are freshest. I prefer the glass bottle of Claravale - but I have also swapped the milk from the plastic container to a glass bottle for Organic Pastures.
                      Both are great sources of real milk - Note that Straus is not Raw.

                      Some interesting information here:

                      You can also find some interesting information about raw milk at

                    2. re: Windy

                      I've experienced what Windy describes with Strauss milks in particular.

                      I've had better luck with other brands in glass, but it does seem they're a little more prone to spoilage and changes in taste, even when consistently kept in a sub zero.

                      Smaller glass probably isn't economical.

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        I think it's probably that the tops don't reseal tightly enough on glass bottles. Although it also happened with raw milk that I got in a mason jar from a farm (from the previous day--which kept no more than 3 or 4 days). Really delicious though.

                  2. Where can one find Organic Pastures or Claravale Dairy raw milk in a store in the Peninsula ?

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: K K

                      Milk Pail Market in Mountain View carries Claravale raw milk.

                      Milk Pail Market
                      2585 California St, Mountain View, CA

                      1. re: K K

                        Palo Alto: Piazzas (has both), Mollie Stones (Organic Pastures), Country Sun (Claravale)
                        Sprouts - Sunnyvale - Organic Pastures

               - has claravale - best prices - drop points all over the Peninsula

                        Mollie Stone's
                        851 Cherry Ave # 22, San Bruno, CA

                        1. re: takuhead

                          That's a great site. Besides milk, what have you ordered from Real Food Bay Area?

                          1. re: Windy

                            Ghee is great - I know the woman who makes it - I had never had one before from the store that was worth eating straight - this one is that good.

                            Also, chickens and eggs from Surfside - I haven't ordered through this site for this since i host as a separate drop point for them anyway - but the products are the same - far superior than any store bought chickens/eggs.

                            Also the products from Evergreen Acres - duck eggs, etc. I also host for them separately for those that have goat herd shares to get their products...

                            The Claravale milk from this site is great - all super fresh - within 24 hours or so...

                            if interested in the other drop points at my place - feel free to email me at BTW: I don't receive payment for hosting these local farmers.

                            1. re: takuhead

                              Thanks! I'd never heard of most of those farms, which made me even more curious. Interesting that the out-of-state eggs are cheaper.

                              What city are you in? I'm impressed that they have pickup/delivery points all over.

                              1. re: Windy

                                Sure thing - I am in Palo Alto.

                                Eggs are cheaper perhaps since the overhead is less out of state....sad isn't it? But they taste better the fresher they are IMO.

                                I forgot to mention that Farmhouse Culture for kraut is the best around - actually fermented properly - That's what I recommend to folks who don't want to learn to make it themselves - and that's what I would buy if I wasn't always fermenting karut and almost everything else and teaching this in my business.

                                1. re: takuhead

                                  Excellent. Looking forward to trying out an order. And now I'm craving sauerkraut.

                                  My favorite eggs are the cheapest at Alemany Market. Which means they aren't doing anything special, they're just fresher.

                              2. re: takuhead

                                Please give me this info too. Where is this place? And do they have Raw Goat Milk and Cage free eggs? What is the website for it? Thank you so much.

                          2. re: K K

                            Earthbeam which is on Broadway in Burlingame. San Mateo County.
                            Just got some for myself today. Love it.

                            1. re: K K

                              Whole Foods Palo Alto, Whole Foods Los Altos has both.

                              The turn-over at those stores seems to keep milk fresh, but you can also ask.

                              Ava's in Mountain View wasn't mentioned because it didn't exist at time of post.

                            2. The Weston A. Price Foundation local chapters can help you. Go to and click on local chapters or go to

                              1. I just got myself some Raw milk today from Earthbeam. Its in Burlingame which is in the San Mateo County. Close to South San Francisco. Take Broadway Exit and go right on Broadway. Its called
                                Earthbeam. I love it.