October 14, 2011

Euro Vision: Mmmm, shelved, warm milk

I didn't think that my new weekly feature really had a catchy title. Although "Things that remind me I'm still in Finland" is exactly what I intend to write about, it doesn't have that zing to it that I was looking for.

So I borrowed a little gem from Europe's own continent-wide singing competition, much like American Idol, only with more mullets, and came up with this...

Slip on those Euro Vision glasses and see what I see everyday.

This week's entry:
Milk. Oh so warm, non-refrigerated, perfectly good milk.

And now, apparently, with super-human abilities! (source)

While shopping for milk at grocery stores back in North America usually involves strolling down the nipply aisle (that is the official name for the fridge section) and reaching your hand as far back as you can into the cooler to get that 'fresher' milk in the back. Check the expiration date, and if you have a week's time, that milk is yours!

Here is what we do in Finland. We walk down the dairy aisle, past the coolers and stare at the shelves full of room temperature, no-need-to-refrigerate-until-opened milk. Yep, just sitting on the shelf along with canned goods, pasta and other non-perishables. Oh, and with the eggs, 'cause eggs aren't refrigerated here either.

The hubs and I usually pick up a full carton of milk, that would be 12 single liter Tetra Paks, and head home. A few boxes go in the fridge to cool but the rest sit in our pantry until it is time to drink them. No, we don't drink them warm, just store them that way.

Fancy schmancy, right?! (source)

I've found that North Americans are really creeped out by this whole process! It started years ago when I worked a summer on a sailboat in Greece. I did everything from helping to sail to cooking breakfasts and lunches. One of the passengers informed me that we were out of milk. So I started digging into the storage areas around the galley and pulled out a few more liters of milk. The look of horror on their faces! Even though they had been drinking the stuff the entire time, they all refused to have any more milk that trip. Babies ;)

I'm not really the milk drinker in the family, but I will have to say it doesn't taste that much different that regular ol' cold milk. A little creamier, but that is it.

According to Wiki, because you know I didn't just pull this out of my butt, it is known as Ultra-High-Temerature (or UTH) processed milk. It involves the sterilization of food by heating it for an extremely short period, about 1-2 seconds, which kills the harmful spores in milk. The milk is then air-tight sealed in packs and has a shelf life of six to nine months. Other than that, it contains the same amount of calories, calcium, although minimal amounts of vitamins can be lost in the UHT process.

Why do it this way rather than just having good ol' pasteurized milk (and unless you are living on a farm, drinking from a cow's teet, you ain't drinking fresh milk)??

Well, for starters, it saves tons of money by not having to use the high costs of refrigeration and cooled transportation needs.

Want to know something evil??? You have probably been drinking UHT milk for sometime and not even realized it. Many milk products in North America use UHT milk, such as McDonald's McFlurries, creamers and milk served on airplanes. Muuaahahahaha! We tricked you!
'Hahaha, I got you idiots. Booya!'  Man, Tetra Pak is gangsta (source)

I can see it now, 'Sales of McFlurries Plummet!'

As you can imagine, even the thought of UHT milk isn't popular in the United States. While the process and shelving is perfectly safe, many Americans just don't like the idea of warm milk being delivered to their grocery store.

But it doesn't even seem weird to us any more. Maybe I need to take my Euro Vision glasses off once in a while :)

Have a great Friday!

And for a feel good moment, check out this heart warming story I came across yesterday. Tears are in my eyes just thinking about it!

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  1. I remember the first time I experienced non UHT milk. I was a little skeptical but quickly caught on. I don't see what the big deal is. Europeans also tend to leave food out that I am pretty used to seeing refrigerated. Cheese, meat..etc. Whatever, when in Rome!

    The other thing that surprised me was TINY fridges and NO dryers.

  2. I admit to being a little creeped out by the milk when I first got here - but I'm kind of funny about dairy in general. But now I love it - you can store quite a bit of it so it's really convenient. We had to toss a lot of milk in the US that expired but not here.
    Visitors from the US are always grossed out by our eggs sitting on the counter, too. Another thing that's refrigerated in US stores but not here is margarine. It's crazy to think about how much energy we waste by refrigerating things that don't need it.

  3. Funny post girl...you are awesome... It's funny because we only have self milk here in Trinidad. I was a shelf milk scardy cat...but now I have seen the light! It tastes the same and it mega convenient, because I can store some on the pantry instead of taking up room in the fridge...
    Great Post!
    xoxo from Trinidad

  4. Wow, you nailed it... that does creep me out a bit. And here I thought I was the only one that called it the nipply aisle.

    On a related note, there are aisles in lots of non grocery stores that I refer to as nipply for various reasons.


  5. I lived in London, England for 3 years and stored milk on shelf until opened - never tasted much different than here - Ooh, I do hate walking to entire back of store to pick up milk in larger grocery stores, so simply go to corner grocer, where it is just inside door. Ltl Tex, this was a most interesting post - thankyou so much

  6. Nothing goes with deep fried guinea pig like a big glass of warm, old milk right off the cupboard shelf (I'm guessing). I think I'll give you my address so you can Fed-X some over. No wait. What's the hurry. Save the postage and send it regular mail. I'm sure after a month in customs it will still be just as delicious.

  7. i don't think i could do the milk, i hated the idea of powdered milk... now this. i so want the euro vision glasses, those come in 3d?

    have a glorious day!

    Jeremy [iZombie]
    iZombie Lover

  8. This is where I arch an eyebrow and go, "I've never heard of Eurovision, and this is literally the third reference to it in the last hour." Crazy!

  9. I think it's great, and I wish it were more readily available in stores here in the states. My girls go through sooooo much milk. It would be nice to have some stocked in the pantry. And unrefrigerated eggs!!! Give me some of those! I think it's so cute to have a basket of eggs on the counter, but I'm a city girl, so I have to get my eggs from the "nipply aisle". Lol.

  10. My relationship with milk starts and ends with it going in my coffee so I don't really care how it's stored as long as the effect is the same because anything is better than sour milk...ewww!

  11. The first time I had UHT milk was in England in the 80's, so it's been around awhile. It's strange that it isn't more popular in North America.

  12. A lot of my friends were grossed out by the shelved milk when I lived in Spain, but I don't like milk either cold OR room temp, so I guess it didn't really affect me :)

  13. @Kyria - yeah, me neither! Haha, they really do, and guess what, non of it goes bad. We have a big fridge this year, well, big for here, but only a dryer one year out of the 4 so far. Bummer :)
    @CN - It is weird at first, but it is sooooo nice to be able to store lots at home. So true, we have never thrown away milk because it went bad. You have to imagine that sooo much energy is being wasted. Sad.
    @Corey - well thanks! And thanks for letting me know you stopped by :) Ah, didn't realize they had it there too. I think it is pretty much everywhere except for America. Glad you like it too!
    @SD - haha, hmmmm, you are totally that creepy guy in the grocery store, aren't you!? Too funny!
    @Saucy - yeah, I guess you just get used to it. I know, grocery stores back at home are toooo big. Takes too much time. Well glad you liked it Lilly. Thanks!
    @SFlaGuy - ew, ew, ew. You went there, not me, haha. I'll actually just slip it into the Baltic's waters, and maybe in a few months time it might wash up on your shore there. That would be tasty!
    @iZombie - well, it is no where near powdered milk, but I understand. Haha, yes, 4D, smell a vision, lol. Have a great weekend yourself!
    @Joshua - really?! It is very Euro singing competition. I've never watched really, but I figured if I was going to borrow the name, it needed a shoutout.
    @Christina - It is so nice and easy to store. It takes a while to go through a case, so you aren't lugging gallons back from the store all the time. Haha, well, I don't really mind things being in the nipple aisle either.
    @An Irish - then it is perfect for that! And you can have plenty on hand too. Haha, yep anything better than sour milk, so nasty!
    @Kara - maybe, in order to cut costs, it will become more popular. People just have to get over their fear of it!
    @Meri - haha, I am the same as you. Don't really care for or drink either, so we are happy either way ;)

  14. Huh, I never knew they made such a thing. Whatever, I'd still drink it!

  15. Hahaha...we have a lot of this milk in Spain, because the only place they have Dairy cows is in the north of Spain where there is actually grass growing...green, not brown, all year round...I first tried the boxed milk, as I call it, at the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, TN. It has come a long way since then, and when it is cold, I think it tastes very similar. As a family who goes through about 7 liters of milk a week, however, the kids can taste the difference. We get the fresh milk from the north and it is great. If we do get in a bind, however, we think the El Presidente brand here in Spain is the best...I never thought about the refrigeration issue though...interesting!

  16. Thanks for providing the science behind this, because it really does freak me out. I don't like milk in the first place and thinking of it warm makes me feel pukey.

  17. I love milk and still drink it by the glass..yum yum!!! However what i really really can't get away with is the powdered stuff!! Maybe if I were tricked it would be fine but the idea makes me vomit! yuck!!!

    Loving the new Euro Vision feature (if only for that picture hahah!!).

  18. I was just talking to my mother about un-refrigerated milk and she seemed appalled as well. I didn't really have any good reasons for it, just that that's the way it is over here. I'm sending her this post right now!

  19. I don't think I could do shelf milk!

    I was on vacation with a Dutch friend this summer, and as we were leaving the room to go out for the day, I mentioned she might want to put her fruit in the fridge. She was all "Americans are weird."

  20. This post really interested me. I live in South Carolina (on the east coast lower middle), USA and you're pretty much right about milk. We buy them in gallon jugs every single week. Some people are not creeped out by condensed canned milk since it's common to cook with.

    I have seen the non-cold milk storage containers at least in the Soy variety. I'll try one of those next time I see it. Very good post by the way. I love culture and different things especially Europe and even more especially the Nordic countries.

  21. @Angela - You brave, you brave, haha
    @Ashleigh - those danged kids, always tasting the difference. I agree you can slightly, but still. Glad you have both available though, thats nice!
    @Ixy - Haha, the more you know, right?! Eww, warm milk is a pretty gross thought.
    @Missy - Nope, not into the powered stuff either. That is just nasty. Well thanks! I liked the little kid too, he is amazed at all the Euroness going around ;)
    @Erin - It just seems wrong to so many people! Awesome! Glad you can pass it on. I was interested to see what the difference in the storing method was too. See, without living over here, we would never know these things!
    @Crystal - Haha, yep, we are weird. Most of them don't do that either. Sorry, I just don't like warm apples!
    @Adam - That is a good point, Adam, condensed milk doesn't gross people out, but the UHT stuff does. Didn't think about that one! Yep, the soy and rice ones back at home come that way too. So why not regular milk, right?! Thanks so much, glad you stopped by and glad you liked!

  22. I'm definitely one of those Americans... I LOVE milk at home, seriously drink it all the time. It comes out so think and warm here and is stored in the garage. I can't get near the stuff. I don't think I'll ever get over it, haha.

  23. quite certain i could find warm milk on the shelves here somewhere. i kind of like the idea since it doesnt expire and go bad in two days.

  24. I actually don't like the milk here, it tastes different to me. I won't drink it, I'll only have it in my cereal. Yep, I'm a primadona, I guess!! I just think it's nasty, nothing really to do with the non-refrigerated reason.

  25. Love this post. I don't mind the UHT milk, but my husband doesn't like it, so I have to buy the "boxed milk" for me, and the fresh milk for him. It does have a different taste, but not much of a difference to me. I love that I can have milk and heavy cream at all times. Also, I noticed you can buy UHT milk in the Hispanic aisle back in the states for all you wanting to try it!

  26. "As you can imagine, even the thought of UHT milk isn't popular in the United States."

    It's not that popular in Finland either, AFAIK.


Whoomp, there it is!