Milk's in bag, bag's in jug
July 18, 2016 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ recently caused a small kerfuffle on Canadian Twitter when, during an interview, he said, "You guys sell milk in bags and I don’t really get why, or what you do then with the bags." This isn't the only time bagged milk has been a source of confusion and controversy - the dairy producer Saputo recently apologized to customers for reducing the amount of milk sold in their bags. So what's the deal with milk bags anyway?

Not all provinces in Canada sell milk in bags (it's manly found in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes). Bagged milk is also sold in other countries - Uruguay, South Africa, Brazil, and Israel are among them.

Attempts have even been made to introduce it in certain parts of the United States.

What’s Up with Bagged Milk? A look at its odd history:
In 1966, DuPont—in cooperation with the Guaranteed Pure Milk Co.—test-marketed their milk-in-pouches system for the first time, starting in Montreal and following with Vancouver. This was back in the era of milk delivery, and instead of sending customers the standard three-quart bottle, customers received three one-quart pouches along with a one-quart plastic pitcher to pour them from.

The merits of the bags were and are debatable. That they were unbreakable when dropped, and they were inarguably space-savers, since they could be stored flat in unused nooks of the refrigerator, unlike traditional milk cartons and bottles.

But bagged milk’s steady takeover of a large portion of the Canadian milk market didn’t start in earnest until 1970, when the country set out to switch from the imperial to the metric system. One imperial gallon of milk equaled 4.54 liters, which is an unreasonable quantity to sell milk in. This meant that all milk containers would have to be resized.
Stackexchange: What's the reason some places use milk bags instead of milk jugs or other means?

Modern Farmer: What’s The Point Of Milk That Comes In Plastic Bags?

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, an economics blog, considers the case for and against the milk bag.

The Western Producer: Ontario’s great milk jug debate puts dairy industry in odd situation.

The Atlantic: The Surprising History of the Milk Carton

So, how do you get the milk out?
posted by mandolin conspiracy (145 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
I routinely have extended milk-related discussions with the American side of the family whenever they visit us. They fundamentally do not understand why or how milk is stored/served in this way. I grew up in Texas, and I'll admit that I was confused the very first time I saw a milk-bag. But, once you see the container in which it is served, it's not too difficult a thing to comprehend. It's milk. Whatever.

I did find this imgur picture set that might help as well: How to Use Milk Bags For Americans Who Don't Know How to Use Google
posted by Fizz at 5:53 PM on July 18, 2016 [14 favorites]


Jug milk always tasted like the plastic jug to me. I like my milk in bags.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 5:57 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]




I don't get the confusion about it at all. Totally logical and easier to pour than some big-ass jug.
Economical: 3 little bags in one bag of milk; almost 4 litres, for about $5 around here, whereas a 1 litre carton is $2-something.

One drawback about it is that as kids, many Canadians drink right out of the bag when no-one's looking; you have to sort of wrap your lips around it and kind of chug it in a sort of suckling fashion which many might find tempting to analyze psychologically. My older brother did this all the time when he came home late at night, when he was a teenager. I used to put Tobasco sauce around the edge of the opening of the bag and wait for the screams.
posted by chococat at 6:04 PM on July 18, 2016 [39 favorites]


Also the thing of people leaving a drip of milk left in the bag and not putting in a new one.
Evidence from my house.
posted by chococat at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2016 [8 favorites]


If it wasn't for baseball I would have never heard about this.
posted by freakazoid at 6:08 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter: You have to sort of wrap your lips around it and kind of chug it in a sort of suckling fashion which many might find tempting to analyze psychologically.
posted by schmod at 6:09 PM on July 18, 2016 [56 favorites]


All milk comes in bags. Some of it is put in other things later.
posted by darksasami at 6:11 PM on July 18, 2016 [25 favorites]


The cafeteria at my college in Texas in the very late 80's had milk in bags. Some were giant bags in a giant beverage dispenser. But sometimes on weekends, when the cafeteria was barely open, it was small bags of milk in jugs.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:11 PM on July 18, 2016


One of the schools I went to (louisiana) had individual milk bags in schools for kids.
posted by AlexiaSky at 6:14 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't know if other Canadians did this but long before the bags could be recycled we would reuse them. The bags would be carefully opened and carefully washed once they were done. They'd be crimped shut with a couple clothes pegs or elastics. The bags are made from LDPE plastic, so they are very sturdy and food safe.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:18 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


Canadian milk comes in bags because that is how nature intended it.
posted by orange swan at 6:19 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


In my limited lifetime, two things are distinctly Canadian experiences:

- Milk in bags (and having to explain it)
- Being raised with the metric system by parents who still use imperial
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:22 PM on July 18, 2016 [18 favorites]


Being raised with the metric system by parents who still use imperial

Or have friends who were raised in avoirdupois and will have drunken arguments with their slightly younger friends about how much better Fahrenheit is to Celsius or how base 12 measurements just make sense.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:26 PM on July 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Pro tip: the milk pours better if you snip both top corners of the bag.

(I've tried to break my bagged milk habit. I've tried so hard. But I use about two cups a day in tea, so it just doesn't make sense to buy a 2L carton. Oh well, I've optimized my tiny fridge configuration for milk storage, so that works.)
posted by maudlin at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I always thought it was to keep the milk you aren't drinking fresher but came to that conclusion on my own. I remember having milk in jugs (maybe when I was in Manitoba or visiting the US) and the last bit of milk in the jug was sometimes iffy. Less of a problem with bagged milk. It is listed as one of the benefits in the Modern Farmer article but it doesn't say if this is some kind of justification after the fact or an actual intended benefit of it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:32 PM on July 18, 2016


This reminds me of the time I visited an internet friend for the first time in Canada. One morning I was looking for milk for cereal, but couldn't find any. When I asked my friend if they had any milk she was like "We just bought some yesterday." Still unable to find it, I asked her to point me to the milk. I was somewhat mystified when she pulled out some generic pitcher, and inside was a bag of milk. However, I didn't understand how this worked. If cut or tore off the top of the bag (like a bag of chips), wouldn't it potentially spill everywhere? Am I supposed to empty the whole bag into the pitcher? But if so, why would they have plopped the bag into the pitcher like that? I asked her what I was supposed to do with it, and she then pinched open the corner and poured it into the bowl.

I must have looked like an idiot to her.
posted by picklenickle at 6:34 PM on July 18, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm from western Canada and I still remember visiting my mother's family in Ontario and being SHOCKED by the existence of milk in bags!! I have a hard time thinking of it as a general "Canadian" quirk, because it's still definitely Not A Thing in the province I live in.
posted by modesty.blaise at 6:37 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seconding AlexiaSky: in Louisiana we had individual bags of milk. You held down one end to make the other end puff up, then you poked a point-end straw into the taut end (thumb over the flat end to prevent spurts). You had to be careful, though, there was a risk of punching through both sides of the bag and flooding your lunch tray.

I am bothered by the idea of leaving an open end milk bag standing up in the fridge, I think I would clip it shut.
posted by angeline at 6:44 PM on July 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


"MILK IN A PLASTIC BAG?! WELL THAT'S JUST UNNATURAL AND WEIRD. STOP BEING WEIRD, CANADA."

I find it annoying that I find milk bags weird.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:45 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]




I am less alarmed by the packaging than by the fact that in Quebecois grocery stores you can get maple-flavored milk.
posted by Nerd of the North at 6:53 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


behold a perfectly designed milk carton
As weird as it might sound we actually have these in Canada along with the bags.
posted by Ashwagandha at 6:53 PM on July 18, 2016




Reminds me of when I was a kid and stood in line with my father at check out in the grocery store all those times:

Checkout Clerk: Sir would you like the milk in a bag

Father: No you can leave it in the jug.
posted by humanfont at 7:01 PM on July 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


they don't have bags in British Columbia :(. I wish they did -- the benefit of bags is you always have fresh milk, but only have to pay the bulk price.
posted by lastobelus at 7:01 PM on July 18, 2016


When I was in elementary school, our class got a tour of the local Neilson dairy factory and the milk bagging process was easily the second most exciting thing in the whole place. It's more of an endless milk hose which resembles a stately column until you notice it is rapidly falling into the jaws of machine that crimps it into the familiar bags being carried away by conveyor belt. The whole place was kind of like a Chocolate Factory type… yeah I guess it was exactly that, actually. There were powered conveyors up in the air and all over the place, and only part of the facility smelled like spoiled milk.
The most most exciting thing was that at the end of the tour, the staff lunchroom had plain and chocolate milk fountain dispensers. Like a water cooler, grab paper cup, push button. Me and a friend got in a competition to see who could drink the most and made ourselves sick.
posted by rodlymight at 7:03 PM on July 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh, and about the changing milk bag size thing, I would imagine it is less of an issue if you are buying jugs or cartons but we buy bagged milk and it took me a while to figure out why the bag wasn't fitting properly in the jug. Once I figured it out I ended up buying regular milk instead of the extra filtered stuff because that came in 4L bags so I guess the loser in that situation was whoever got the markup on the filtered milk. Only a problem at Loblaws because Metro always had proper sized milk. I always thought I should complain to the manager but if I still haven't told them to make one of their movators for people with carts and one without then I'm not going to complain about the milk either.

As we're on the topic of milk, why does the milk in Japanese cartons taste so much creamier than the stuff here? I've even bought some bottles of fancy milk from Whole Foods that nominally had more milk fat and they were still nowhere near as good.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 7:09 PM on July 18, 2016


https://youtu.be/X4YFtCXmg8o
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:11 PM on July 18, 2016


oh man, i never realized it was actual fresh milk and not that UHT shelf stable stuff that tastes, um, not so great is i guess the polite way to describe it, and i definitely questioned the sanity of most of your now apparently innocent country

sorry canada my bad
posted by poffin boffin at 7:11 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


Milk in bags also freezes and thaws better. I suppose in theory one could freeze a jug or carton, but it just feels wrong.

That video makes it sound way more fraught than it is. Also, I don't get all the comfortableness with the open corner of the bag. The milk does not go bad because the corner is open (why would it?). Anyway, milk in bags good, but never let Dreadnought cut your milk bag open because he makes freakish giant milk holes.

Also (learned from Dreadnought's family, in fact, so they're not all milk freaks), if you drill a hole in the bottom of the milk pitcher the bag slides in more easily.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:11 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am less alarmed by the packaging than by the fact that in Quebecois grocery stores you can get maple-flavored milk.

urp!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:14 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Jug milk always tasted like the plastic jug to me. I like my milk in bags.
Are not the bags plastic? Thus the milk instead of tasting like plastic jugs tastes like plastic bags.
Am I right/wrong? Please explain
posted by robbyrobs at 7:15 PM on July 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


Milk bags were used briefly here in central New York State during the 70s. My future husband and a few school buddies were discussing them when his mother entered the kitchen. "They're really strong!" she declared to the lads with enthusiasm. "Just watch!" She then took an unopened half-gallon bag and tossed it into the air.

The area soon switched to plastic bottles for good, but still the Legend of the Milk Bag Explosion endures.
posted by kinnakeet at 7:15 PM on July 18, 2016 [54 favorites]


I don't know if other Canadians did this but long before the bags could be recycled we would reuse them.

We weren't exactly flush growing up and so one of the things we did was grow food in an allotment garden. Most of the weekends in Late August and through September, most of the weekends were spent washing, blanching and packing the veg---carrots, beets, beans---in prewashed milk bags we had been collecting all year, then popped in the chest freezer. Dinner dishes weren't done until all the milk bags accumulated that day were split at the top and washed out.

Before freezer ziplocks came along, those milk bags were very useful.
posted by bonehead at 7:16 PM on July 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


My seventeen year old self wonders how you can slam milk from a bag until Dad yells at you.
posted by Sphinx at 7:20 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


We got milk in bags when I was a kid in Michigan (early 1980s). They were easier to store (and freeze) and very tough. As for closing, we had a plastic milk-bag holding jug much like the ones in the photos, but ours had an inch-deep vertical slit right under the pour spout. You'd hold together the bag and slide the cut part down through the slit before putting the jug into the fridge.
posted by holyrood at 7:21 PM on July 18, 2016


"As we're on the topic of milk, why does the milk in Japanese cartons taste so much creamier than the stuff here?"

I think it has to do with what the cows are fed. I've found Ontario milk to have very little flavour compared to the milk I've drank in New Zealand and the UK.
posted by Harpocrates at 7:24 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if other Canadians did this but long before the bags could be recycled we would reuse them. The bags would be carefully opened and carefully washed once they were done.

When I worked at Outward Bound they were prized for carrying gorp and dried foodstuffs on canoe trips; i.e. reused in the most Canadian way possible.
posted by Flashman at 7:29 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


Quiktrip in Minnesota sells milk in bags. I bought it once for the novelty. Didn't care for it.
posted by Ferreous at 7:32 PM on July 18, 2016


Leftover milk bags are the best. They are so sturdy!

Now I am in the states and can only buy milk in jugs; I can't manage to pour the first little bit out without spilling a bit :(
posted by quaking fajita at 7:34 PM on July 18, 2016


One imperial gallon of milk equaled 4.54 liters, which is an unreasonable quantity to sell milk in.

TIL Canada has no teenage boys.
posted by madajb at 7:35 PM on July 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also, all this talk about different milk containers affecting the taste makes me renew my belief that one of the local hippie/back to the farm/farm co-ops should start doorstep delivery of milk in bottles.

I remember it fondly from when I was a child, and I can't imagine as an add-on to a CSA share that it wouldn't sell.
posted by madajb at 7:41 PM on July 18, 2016


there is at least one dairy in NYC that still does glass bottles, i think it's ronnybrook? anyway their chocolate milk is 100% worth the kyoto protocol violations that erupt from my gut upon drinking it.
posted by poffin boffin at 7:46 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think it has to do with what the cows are fed. I've found Ontario milk to have very little flavour compared to the milk I've drank in New Zealand and the UK.

It more likely has more to do with the standardization of Ontario milk via the Milk Farmer's of Ontario, its aglomeration and pasteurization processing and the government food inspection standards. You're actually drinking mass produced in a Budweiser kind of way milk. It's one of the safest milk systems in the world but milk contamination is a fading concern these days (until it suddenly isn't of course).

Milk in bags also freezes and thaws better.

Just don't bang a frozen bag against anything and knock off a corner without realizing it! In my home we eventually started just thawing the bags in the dish rack sink just in case.
posted by srboisvert at 7:47 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


The small town in Iowa where my grandparents lived had milk inna bag for a while, so I always associate it with hot summer days on the lake watching my dog chase chipmunks.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:47 PM on July 18, 2016


I think it has to do with what the cows are fed. I've found Ontario milk to have very little flavour compared to the milk I've drank in New Zealand and the UK.

I agree this has something to do with it (as well as pasteurization method). I find seeking local suppliers that provide grass fed, cream top/non homogenized and vat/low temp pasteurized milk usually will result in an amazing tasting milk product, one that you can actually taste change in sweetness as the season and feed changes. Some will also go as far as the raw milk route, which I've done and had amazing tasting milk, but the feds got that farmer and I haven't been bothered to find a replacement since I can get good tasting milk if those parameters are satisfied now.
posted by Karaage at 7:48 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Like all the other people recalling milk in bags at cafeterias in those giant dispensers I too have a milk bag story.

Like cafeterias, US Submarines have a refrigerated milk dispenser in the Crew's Mess that serves the whole boat's milk needs. Unlike cafeterias, this particular milk dispenser involves carrying bags of milk across a bridge, over a bunch of nuclear warheads, through two narrow watertight hatches each with their own awkward ladder, down a steep narrow stairway, down a long low-ceilinged passageway, through yet another watertight door, another hallway, and either directly into crew's mess or around the periscope well and into the refrigerated stores. Now imagine this repeated oh, about 40 times each with a three gallon bag of milk. These bags were nominally contained in boxes, but these boxes tended to fall apart at the slightest provocation. If you were lucky you had enough bodies to support an old-fashioned loading line, but now you're passing slippery floppy bags of milk from hand to hand. Accidents happened, and you had better clean up every drop unless you like the idea of sour-smelling deckplates. Oh, we did it happily, because the alternative was the unpleasant shelf-stable milk-like substance everyone got once the fresh milk runs out. Oh, also you're sometimes carrying all this milk down into a boat sailing off the coast of Hawaii. This milk was delivered from a support vessel alongside with a crane that swings supplies over in a big canvas bag.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:05 PM on July 18, 2016 [21 favorites]


I have a hard time thinking of it as a general "Canadian" quirk, because it's still definitely Not A Thing in the province I live in.

Most Canadian iconography is just Eastern Canadian iconography. I had never known of milk in bags, heard about poutine, or seen a real maple leaf until moving east for University.
posted by painquale at 8:39 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


We all think it's kind of a drag
That you have to go there to get milk in a bag.
They say "eh?" instead of "what?" or "duh?"
That's the mighty power of Canada.


But yeah this all seems pretty sensible, honestly. It's just not often I can insert Christian ska bands into a conversation.
posted by Peccable at 9:41 PM on July 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can't be the only person who knocks over basically everything in my fridge when I need to get something out of a more crowded part, can I?

Also, depending on how big a hole you cut, I guess, don't you risk it picking up the smell of whatever might be next to it in the fridge? I mean, I keep my blue cheese (for example) wrapped well, but milk absorbs flavors REALLY easily.

I guess basically what I'm saying is that I was a milk-resister from early childhood and I think this would have pushed me over the edge
posted by ostro at 9:42 PM on July 18, 2016


I live in Montreal in 1970 when milk in a bag was introduced and I thought it was way modern at the time.
But these days I imagine all the plasticizers in the plastic bag leaching to the milk just so they can disrupt my hormones. Then again,I imagine paper cartons are lined with the same crap.
Just so they spare the expense of glass bottles...
posted by Fupped Duck at 10:05 PM on July 18, 2016


Um, we had milk delivered in bags, inside of a cardboard box dispenser, when we lived in Montana in the 1960's. The big tough bag (I think it was a gallon) had a spigot attached that you slid down into a slot in the cardboard box that held it steady and then you pulled out the plunger to dispense your milk. I do remember Mom freezing bags sometimes. Wow, I'd forgotten all about that until this thread popped up!
posted by Lynsey at 10:25 PM on July 18, 2016


As long as it doesn't come in powder in a box, I'm good.
posted by praemunire at 10:29 PM on July 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I’ve seen bagged milk in the UK too - Sainsbury’s sold it, and perhaps they still do - but it didn’t seem like it was catching on.
posted by misteraitch at 11:23 PM on July 18, 2016


Well it may not anymore, but milk definitely used to come in bags here in BC--all through my childhood, 1970s through 1980s. I don't remember when my parents stopped buying it that way, maybe early or mid 1990s?

We were also careful bag re-users. They were really sturdy and perfect for reuse.

And I also remember carting around a nice squishy bag of milk pretending it was a baby. It was about the right size and length, and I would have been in about as much trouble if I had dropped it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:51 PM on July 18, 2016 [6 favorites]


Bagged milk was available from some regional dairies in the UK in the early 1980s. As a kid we couldn't get bagged milk in the town where we lived, but could get it (and only it) in the town where we would go on holiday, all of 40 miles away. So it always feels kind of celebrational whenever I see it, still. Last time was in South Africa a few years ago, where it still seemed to be a thing in Woolworths.
posted by cromagnon at 1:37 AM on July 19, 2016


Lynn Johnsron had to devote a corner of her web site for "For Better Or For Worse" to explaining some of the "Canadi-isms" that American fans were always writing her about. I think she said that far and away the thing she got the most questions about was when one time the characters had milk in bags and American readers didn't know what the heck was going on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:02 AM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


We tried this in New York in the Mid 80's. Didn't last long, although I didn't have any problems.

Now we have a local diary dairy deliver lo-temp pasteurized milk to a box on our porch.
posted by mikelieman at 3:16 AM on July 19, 2016


Had these in Pennsylvania in the late 70s-early 80s, didn't mind it.

I also don't have a problem with shelf-stable milk like Parmalat... Very handy to keep a carton on hand.
posted by Robin Kestrel at 3:50 AM on July 19, 2016


If you can't close the bag, does not the milk take on the taste of other items in the fridge over time?
posted by chaz at 3:52 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


One Boy Scout summer camp I went to would give you milk in bags. It was slightly easier to fit in the special food toting backpack the quartermaster supplied.
posted by drezdn at 4:51 AM on July 19, 2016


"Changing the milk bag" in my memory is always going to sound like this:

(fridge opens, as the opener pours, a dribble of milk barely moistens their cereal)

"Aw shit"

(sound of fridge opening)

(bag dropped into the plastic container) SLAM!!!! (Bangs container on the counter to get the bag to settle)

(ZZZZPPT!) (sound of steak knife cutting the corner of the milk bag)


And that, my friends: is the sound of Ontario Milk.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 5:35 AM on July 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


If you can't close the bag, does not the milk take on the taste of other items in the fridge over time?

The solution for this is kids, preferably teenagers. A bag of milk lasted less than a day, perhaps even a meal at our house. Cartons or jugs in 1L and 2L were always also available for those that wanted them. Milk isn't only available in bags, that's just the cheapest way to buy it.
posted by bonehead at 5:41 AM on July 19, 2016


Udderly ridiculous.

We had milk in bags growing up in Alberta in the 80s/90s. Haven't seen them here since.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:42 AM on July 19, 2016


i miss bagged milk.

also I'm definitely going to hell for whinging about mom washing them out and carefully drying them and sending my school lunches in them.
posted by stray at 5:50 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I encountered bagged milk in Uganda, after growing up in America accustomed to jugs. It seemed weird for about a minute, but the milk from African cows was so sweet and delicious that I forgot to care about it thereafter.
posted by clockzero at 6:00 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm an Ontarian, and with two little kids my household goes through a lot of milk. We recently switched from cartons to bags because it's cheaper: about 2/3rds the cost.

My 4yr old yelled "what is that?!?" the first time we poured from a bag, so I guess it's not a genetic trait :^)
posted by krunk at 6:10 AM on July 19, 2016


Also, all this talk about different milk containers affecting the taste makes me renew my belief that one of the local hippie/back to the farm/farm co-ops should start doorstep delivery of milk in bottles.

There is one place in the Kingston area that still does this. Some people have their branded milk boxes out on the stoops for delivery!
posted by Kitteh at 6:19 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember milk bags (and stubby beer bottles and pop shop!) All gone in BC...

You can buy milk in bottles in BC too. And I once lived in an apartment building that still had milk delivery doors which were great for friends to leave notes or that book they borrowed if you werent home... apparentlydelivery is still offered here by the dairy co-op. Huh!

The Worthwhile Canadian Initiative blog says bags were abandoned in BC due to cross border shopping... is that not a thing elsewhere?
posted by chapps at 6:38 AM on July 19, 2016


What blue_beetle says; I grew up in Alberta in the 80s, and we had them then, but somehow in the late 80s they were replaced by plastic gallon jugs.

There was a period where I could taste the plastic in those jugs, and actually stopped drinking milk for a while unless we bought cartons or bags, the jugs were so disgusting. Somewhere along the line they must have fixed the plastic, or my palate became inured to it.
posted by ChrisR at 6:41 AM on July 19, 2016


If you can't close the bag, does not the milk take on the taste of other items in the fridge over time?

I see a lot of people arguing basically "drink it fast." I don't drink it fast and this is not a problem. A bag of milk can sit in my fridge for weeks and weeks after it's been opened. It doesn't go bad and it doesn't taste like anything else. The bag opening is very small and it's not like there's a lot of wind in the fridge circulating the air around. Do you all really keep everything in your fridge super air-tight?

The Worthwhile Canadian Initiative blog says bags were abandoned in BC due to cross border shopping... is that not a thing elsewhere?

A) Cross border shopping is less of a thing than it was in the 80s and 90s, for sure.

B) Even if one were inclined to cross border shop, that seems like a lot of trouble to go to every time you need milk, especially since you can't just buy a year's worth and freeze it, if you're buying it in jugs.

C) Not everyone prefers jugs. When I lived in the US I found the 1 gallon jugs too heavy and unwieldy. The bag is much easier. These people who are all "but it's so much more trouble, you need a container and you have to cut it open!! OMG! ARGH!" are just people who aren't used to doing it. Cutting open a milk bag is way easier than opening a milk carton, and once you own a container, it's not really that big a deal to put a bag in it. And hell, people buying cartons put their milk in containers, too, though it's obviously more optional. If you're going to buy a gallon-ish of milk, bags is definitely the more convenient and less messy way to do it. The jug is a bigger hassle in the fridge (it takes up more room, the bags can be placed separately if need be, fit in the deli drawer, and can even go on top of or under something else). Also, the bags are better for freezing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:52 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Needs mention of the Snippit plastic bag opener, for which the little holes in the milk jug handle are made.

Our house gave up on milk bags because of the likelihood of nasty sour milk backwash from the jug.
posted by scruss at 7:00 AM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you can't close the bag, does not the milk take on the taste of other items in the fridge over time?

If this is a concern or if you are slow drinker you can close the opening with a clip but it really isn't a problem unless you have milk hanging around for weeks.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:01 AM on July 19, 2016


unless you have milk hanging around for weeks.

And even then, not a problem. Seriously.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:06 AM on July 19, 2016


Making a second smaller cut on at the other corner makes pouring so much controlled and easier. It now actually bothers me when I'm at someone's place who is making tea or coffee and is using a bag with only one cut.

I'm not sure if this means I don't have enough problems to worry about or I'm just too concerned with how my friends pour their milk.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 7:08 AM on July 19, 2016


HOW THE FUCK IS IT EASIER TO POOR, YOU GET THIS BLADDER, AND YOU HAVE TO CUT IT SO OYU GET HALF THE MILK ALL OVER THE PLACE WITH THE CUTTING, AND THEN YOU HAVE TO PLACE IT IN ITS OWN ARMATURE, SO YOU GET A BUNCH OF MILK OVER EVERYTHING WITH THAT, AND YOU MIGHT PUNCTURE IT ON THE WAY HOME FROM THE STORE AND ALSO ITS SO FUCKING ICKY TO FEEL AND IT TAKES UP SO MUCH ROOM IN THE FRIDGE. PLUS FUCK ONTARIO AND QUEBEC THINKING ITS THE REST OF CANADA. I LOVE MILK AND I FUCKING HATE THAT I CANNOT GET A FOUR LITER JUG. FUCK BAGGED MILK. IT COMES FROM THE DEVILS TEAT.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:08 AM on July 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


HOW THE FUCK IS IT EASIER TO POOR, YOU GET THIS BLADDER, AND YOU HAVE TO CUT IT SO OYU GET HALF THE MILK ALL OVER THE PLACE WITH THE CUTTING, AND THEN YOU HAVE TO PLACE IT IN ITS OWN ARMATURE,

You cut if after you place it in the jug, not the other way around. Hope this solves your, uh, problem.
posted by beau jackson at 7:12 AM on July 19, 2016 [11 favorites]


Like a few others here, I remember single serving bags of milk in the school cafeteria. (Michigan, early 1970s). The thing we liked was this: After you finish your milk, you blow air in to inflate the bag, and then poke the pointed straw out the other side. Then you toss it on the floor and stomp on it. It pops like a balloon, BANG!

This was strictly forbidden, and every time one of the boys did it, the old lady who supervised the cafeteria would race over to find the culprit and shake him. That would be the moment to make your escape, while she wasn't standing guard over the door to the playground, inspecting each tray and sending kids back to finish eating their vegetables.
posted by elizilla at 7:13 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cross-border shopping is still very much alive and well. Just stop at the Costco in Bellingham, WA and watch the poor Costco employee truck out a fresh pallet of milk and then run for his life. There have been fistfights over milk, and more than a little animosity directed toward our Canadian neighbors, from those who feel the Canadians are buying all "our" milk.
posted by xedrik at 7:15 AM on July 19, 2016


What BeauJackson said...why would you cut it open before putting it in the pitcher? Also, the bags are really hard to puncture. I've never had a bag break and leak.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:18 AM on July 19, 2016


One imperial gallon of milk equaled 4.54 liters, which is an unreasonable quantity to sell milk in. This meant that all milk containers would have to be resized.

Tell that to British supermarkets, who have been forced to sell in metric measures for a few years now and routinely sell 1.136L, 2.272L and 3.480L bottles of milk.
posted by A Robot Ninja at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh, also you're sometimes carrying all this milk down into a boat sailing off the coast of Hawaii. This milk was delivered from a support vessel alongside with a crane that swings supplies over in a big canvas bag.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia>


...and when those support vessels are themselves submarines (and German and WWII-era), they're called milch cows.
posted by workerant at 7:22 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


All about the glass jug + deposit system.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:30 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Leftover milk bags are the best. They are so sturdy!

Imagine the fun in the US when price competition reduces the the quality where just touching one without extra care explodes in the fridge. Think of the shareholders.
posted by sammyo at 7:39 AM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's no need to cut the opposite corner. The bag is collapsible so it doesn't need an air vent hole like a rigid container would.

I don't get why cross-border shopping would have anything to do with bagged milk. Are people crossing the border specifically to avoid having to buy bags of milk? Did switching to jugs reduce the number of cross-border shoppers? If you hate it that much why not just buy cartons?...they're available everywhere bags are.
posted by rocket88 at 7:42 AM on July 19, 2016


Before we had kids I bought milk in beautiful glass bottles with a $5 deposit and it would last for weeks. Now if i don't ration it, we can go through a bag a day...

I bought a slightly fancy plastic container with a lid at bed bath and beyond to replace the cheapo one they sell near the milk in the grocery store and it may be the greatest thing I've ever done. I just *could not* get that stupid bag of milk to slide into the jug and I always cut the corner too big or too small.

Totally cross border shop (Ontario to Quebec and Canada to U.S.) depending on currency rates and just weird laws. Milk is more expensive in Quebec but alcohol is so much cheaper.
posted by betsybetsy at 8:11 AM on July 19, 2016


I don't know if other Canadians did this but long before the bags could be recycled we would reuse them. The bags would be carefully opened and carefully washed once they were done. They'd be crimped shut with a couple clothes pegs or elastics.

We turned them inside out and washed them in the top rack of the dishwasher, and then saved them for when we needed bags that could be closed with a twist-tie.
posted by joannemerriam at 8:26 AM on July 19, 2016


Ah yes, milk jugs. Recycled at a rate of roughly 25%.

An Everest high mountainous pile of landfill space eating, non-composting plastic. So convenient.

"But milk in bags is weird!"
posted by bobloblaw at 8:29 AM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ever see J.A. Happ's beaning on YouTube? OUCH.

I remember going to Europe in high school and seeing boxed milk for the first time. That doesn't go bad! Neat.
posted by Melismata at 8:32 AM on July 19, 2016


How long are people keeping milk in their fridge that they're concerned that the tiny opening in the bag will reduce its freshness?
posted by bobloblaw at 8:33 AM on July 19, 2016


Most Canadian iconography is just Eastern Canadian iconography

Well yeah, REAL Canada
posted by Hoopo at 8:33 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I ended up buying regular milk instead of the extra filtered stuff because that came in 4L bags so I guess the loser in that situation was whoever got the markup on the filtered milk.--portmanteau

I was just wrapping my head around the idea of bagged milk and then you go and bring up 'filtered milk'.

Filtered milk?
posted by eye of newt at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2016


That's it, Hoopo, I demand a separate Vancouver Island Nation Now! CAAASCAAAADIAAAAAAA!
posted by chapps at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Most Canadians are Eastern Canadians.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:36 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cutting open a milk bag is way easier than opening a milk carton

what? opening a milk carton is just unscrewing the cap. how is getting a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer somehow easier than opening a plastic screw cap? im so confused.
posted by poffin boffin at 8:37 AM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Some brands market themselves as filtered milk. Supposedly this extra-special milk homogenizing process removes more of the bacteria present in milk, which means the milk spoils less quickly. They also claim better taste and supposedly that less creamy milk tastes more creamy (1% tastes like 2%! 2% tastes like homo!).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2016


I wonder how many people who are baffled by milk in bags would happily drink box wine, which, in case you don't know, is basically wine in a bag with a cardboard casing.
posted by Cash4Lead at 8:38 AM on July 19, 2016




what? opening a milk carton is just unscrewing the cap. how is getting a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer somehow easier than opening a plastic screw cap? im so confused.

I was thinking of the push pull the cardboard tip apart, push the sides back and then push in, which I always manage to mess up. I always get the cardboard to separate instead of actually pulling apart the separate layers of cardboard.

But if you're using a cap then I submit that it's a wash, unless you use a snippet (mentioned above) in which case opening the bag is still easier -- not because the cap is hard, but because both are easy. The cap has the little ring to detach, remove or sometimes throw out, though, which is much trouble as getting the snippet off the fridge and putting it back. So it's neck-in-neck easy so far, except...with the carton you now have to cap and then uncap and recap very time you want milk. With the bag, you snip once and never have to deal with the opening again.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:50 AM on July 19, 2016


The real problem lies in Canada's deep south.
posted by beau jackson at 8:51 AM on July 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most milk in Canada isn't what comes out of a cow anyway. At the dairy, it's separated into cream and whey, the whey is further processed to remove a lot of the proteins*, then the cream and the remaining cream fat are remixed to get skim, 1%, 2% and homo, as appropriate. The microfiltered milk pushes the cream through a fine filter, and this results in small cream droplets in the milk than the older-technology mechanical mixers do. The filter remove many bacteria, but the small cream droplets also change the mouth feel of the microfiltered milk. So what we get in bags and cartons in the store is really quite removed from the natural milk.

*this is why making your own cheese with Canadian milk is really impossible.
posted by bonehead at 8:53 AM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


They tried to replace half-pint cartons of milk with half-pint bags of milk at my junior high. Some dumbass boy-child mocked them as "breast implants," and the name stuck, as well as all the baggage and acting out that came with it.

Next school year, it was back to cartons.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:58 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


A plumber once told me that the #1 reason dishwashers need to be repaired is because they get jammed or clogged with the little triangles of plastic that are the result of snipping the bag open. I have no idea if that's true but I'm inclined to believe it because those fuckers get everywhere. See also those plastic things that keep milk and bread bags closed and that we used to break in half and flick at each other.
posted by chococat at 9:03 AM on July 19, 2016


Oh! Oh!

And did anyone ever have a guest from outside Ontario who cut the hole in the bag WAY TOO BIG? And then the dumb bag would FLOP OVER when you tried to pour? (seethes)



what? opening a milk carton is just unscrewing the cap. how is getting a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer somehow easier than opening a plastic screw cap? im so confused.

I was thinking of the push pull the cardboard tip apart, push the sides back and then push in, which I always manage to mess up. I always get the cardboard to separate instead of actually pulling apart the separate layers of cardboard



Way easier - the difference between

"unscrew-and-pull-toss-screw-back-on" and

"ZZZPPPT" (the sound of a steak knife cutting off the corner). One is practically INSTANT (when done correctly)
posted by Dressed to Kill at 9:05 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


We don't usually drink enough milk to buy more than a quart at a time, but we did recently start buying half-gallon paper containers from a grocer who makes bold claims about the freshness of their dairy, and I have to say, it really does stay fresh longer.

The idea of two extra, un-jugged bags of milk flopping around the fridge sounds sort of unappealing.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:16 AM on July 19, 2016


Cash4Lead: "I wonder how many people who are baffled by milk in bags would happily drink box wine, which, in case you don't know, is basically wine in a bag with a cardboard casing."

That, I'd be fine with - because there's a spigot on the bottom and the bag is enclosed in something somewhat sturdy to prevent accidental pokes and holes.

Tetrapak I am OK with. Cartons too. Jugs, fine. But the bare naked bag is just a mess waiting to happen. 'Specially with my kid.

Glass, that's OK too, but we learned the hard way you don't swing your arms front to back happily while carrying a pair of milk bottles from the front doorstep to the kitchen, because eventually you hit the bottles together and milk + glass goes everywhere and Mom freaks out and you freeze like a deer in the headlights panicking and not sure what to do next. Good times.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:17 AM on July 19, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was thinking of the push pull the cardboard tip apart, push the sides back and then push in, which I always manage to mess up. I always get the cardboard to separate instead of actually pulling apart the separate layers of cardboard.

YEAH those are godawful and i hate them, but i haven't seen them since maybe elementary school? i bet they still exist on the single serving school lunch sized milk containers but i think the half gallons have all been twist top for at least 20 years.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:20 AM on July 19, 2016


When I was growing up in Toronto (I'm 56), milk was sold in jugs, not bags. (You can still see milk jugs on the storefronts of old convenience stores.) I seem to recall that they switched to bags because people used to do things like store transmission fluid in milk jugs before sending them back to be reused.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 9:27 AM on July 19, 2016


I decant my bagged milk into a glass pitcher. Yes, it's a pain to have to wash the pitcher but it looks so much nicer that way.
posted by orange swan at 9:30 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Milk bags aren't messy at all. And snippits make opening easy. Only one corner needs a cut, as noted above, the bag is flexible. Kids have a hard time pouring them when they are just opened, as the top can flop if you aren't careful or don't hold the other corner of the bag, but then kids have a hard time pouring a full carton easily too. And little kids can't handle a full gallon jug. I hate big plastic jugs as they take up so much damn space in the fridge, even if they are almost empty. And you can't tell how much is left in cartons without opening them up or hefting them. Milk bags are small enough that they get used up pretty quickly. The only time we don't use them is camping, as they can't be transported around once opened up.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:31 AM on July 19, 2016


The idea of two extra, un-jugged bags of milk flopping around the fridge sounds sort of unappealing.

Put it in the freezer. It won't be in the fridge. It won't flop because it will be frozen. And you can buy the milk cheaper because you're getting the bigger size, even though you're only drinking one quart within spoiling time.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:35 AM on July 19, 2016


Bags are also great for camping. As a soft tube shape, they fit in the cooler much more easily than cartons, and as noted, they're very tough. I think they keep longer too.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on July 19, 2016


We have a milk bag organiser in our fridge to hold the extra bags and keep them from flopping around.
posted by fimbulvetr at 9:56 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


8 years in the US and I still have a milk-bag-jug floating around my kitchen looking for something to do with itself.
posted by GuyZero at 9:59 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why not just pour the milk into the jug instead of keeping it in the bag?
posted by shmegegge at 10:01 AM on July 19, 2016


sans bag most milk jugs are not that great for storing milk as they leave it too open to the air and they don't actually hold that much milk.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2016


If you keep it in the bag, then you don't have to clean the jug when you finish the bag - just pop the next one in and you're good to go. No milk touches the jug. The jug is just there for ease of pouring, it's not the container.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Plus decanting a gallon jug into a third-gallon pitcher still leaves me with the gallon jug in the fridge taking up space.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2016


We use milk bags in argentina too. I have no strong opinion either way, that's all i can contribute to this thread.
posted by palbo at 10:14 AM on July 19, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ah, I made a terminology mistake -- a "pitcher" is what you use with bags (it's small, just the right size to put the bag in, and may or may not have a lid), whereas a "jug" is the container sold with milk already in it if you don't use bags.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:16 AM on July 19, 2016


oh yeah I guess I has those mixed up. I'd probably call them both a jug normally but clearly that's unhelpful when comparing the two.
posted by GuyZero at 10:17 AM on July 19, 2016


The idea of two extra, un-jugged bags of milk flopping around the fridge sounds sort of unappealing.

We have up to 6 un-jugged bags of milk in our fridge at any time. We've just discovered that they fit perfectly in one of the vegetable drawers in the fridge.
posted by Kabanos at 10:18 AM on July 19, 2016


So what's the deal with milk bags anyway?

123 comments


What

They tried to replace half-pint cartons of milk with half-pint bags of milk at my junior high. Some dumbass boy-child mocked them as "breast implants," and the name stuck, as well as all the baggage and acting out that came with it. Next school year, it was back to cartons.

Oh, dear. Yeah, I can see just about ... any junior high school having that problem.
posted by Melismata at 10:23 AM on July 19, 2016


The best container for grocery store milk is paper carton.
posted by Beholder at 10:41 AM on July 19, 2016


It's not a "Canadian" thing; it's a regional Canadian thing (from Ontario eastward). Thankfully, the bags were sold for only a few years out here in Alberta. In our household, where a four-litre jug lasts just a day or two, I would go crazy if I had to constantly swap out one-litre bags.
posted by MACTdaddy at 10:42 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can't favorite this post enough!

Born in Ontario, but shortly thereafter moved to the US permanently. All I'd ever known was the American-style gallon plastic jug for milk. My family of origin took a "return to the homeland Canada trip" (which is in scare quotes because both my parents are immigrants from Taiwan who met in Canada as young professionals) when I was 30 years old, staying at a B&B in Guelph. I was full of confusion and WTF as the B&B owner said she would get some milk and proceeded to pull out a plastic bag OF MILK, plop it into a container obviously designed for this very feat, snip the corner, and hand me the works.

Even more shocking was my mother exclaiming, "I forgot about these milk bags! So much more convenient than gallon jugs!"

I understood the superiority of the Canadian milk bag immediately upon first pour, and tried to imagine what a different person I'd have become, if I only had the civilizing milk-pour technology of Guelph to guide me.
posted by Pocahontas at 10:53 AM on July 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


The large bag that contains the 3 individual milk bags is also perfect for dog poo when we take our dog to the park. We keep a stash of them in the drawer for just that purpose, along with bags from bread.
On one occasion, after picking up the dog shit with a bread bag, we noticed that the branding on the bag said "Nature's Reward." How we laughed.
posted by chococat at 10:54 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, regional and temporal. As already mentioned, bagged milk was phased out in BC in the late 80's/early 90's.

I miss bagged milk (but then I miss dairy in general now with adult onset lactose intolerance).
posted by porpoise at 10:55 AM on July 19, 2016


It's 3 bags each holding 1.333 litres, presumably. And then the big bag that all 3 little bags come in.

There's been lots of love for reusing the individual bags. I want to add that the individual bags are also the perfect size for holding a sandwich made from regular supermarket bread. AND let's not forget the big bag. The big bag is perfect for the kitchen green bin, if you're someone who chooses to bag the kitchen bin instead of the outdoor bin, and they're also the perfect bag to take with you in the car if you think you might throw up. Besides being a nice size for both tasks, the bags are designed to be leak proof and strong.

Wikipedia claims the bags use less plastic but provides no citation. David Suzuki says glass is best, then jug (but based on buying one jug vs. two cartons) then carton. It does not rate bags, but based on the principle cited in the article that reducing is best, then re-using, then recyclying, it does seem like bags would be better environmentally since they are less plastic (reduce) than jugs and are more commonly re-used than jugs.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:57 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


The issue with glass is the the weight of the bottles alone increases transportation costs and fuel requirements. I like Suzuki and all but I'm not sure he did the full lifecycle analysis here.
posted by GuyZero at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2016


Imagine the fun in the US when price competition reduces the the quality where just touching one without extra care explodes in the fridge.

I live in the U.S. now and have yet to see carbonated milk. Where do they hide this? I MUST HAVE IT!

what? opening a milk carton is just unscrewing the cap. how is getting a pair of scissors from the kitchen drawer somehow easier than opening a plastic screw cap? im so confused.


If your scissors don't have a magnet attached and are not stuck on the fridge you may be deported from Canada.
posted by srboisvert at 11:27 AM on July 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


I live in the U.S. now and have yet to see carbonated milk. Where do they hide this? I MUST HAVE IT!

Isn't this basically kefir? It's kinda fizzy.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:31 AM on July 19, 2016


*this is why making your own cheese with Canadian milk is really impossible.
posted by bonehead at 10:53 AM on 7/19


What? I make cheese with Canadian milk all the time. Works out great.
posted by Kreiger at 11:53 AM on July 19, 2016


still the Legend of the Milk Bag Explosion endures.

If there isn't a jam band in Etobicoke called 'Milk Bag Explosion', Canada has failed us.

My grandma had UHT bagged milk with a jug back in the 80s. Just thinking about it brings back memories of how UHT milk tastes.
posted by holgate at 12:06 PM on July 19, 2016


It's not like I haven't seen milk in bags, when I was sixteen I worked at Perkins. We had the cold milk dispenser with the the bags and the cold handle.

When I was 16-17 and my brother was 11-12, we'd kill a quart of 2% straight from the carton before heading out for the bus to school. I'm sure that makes Dad angry to this day.

It's always funny to me that I'm the small one.
posted by Sphinx at 2:24 PM on July 19, 2016


Do Canadians not know the thousands upon thousands of art projects that gallon jugs make?!go ahead and browse if you dare.
posted by AlexiaSky at 3:52 PM on July 19, 2016


My mum's been using the same milk-bag-jug since the 70s. Whatever formulation of plastic it is, I still looks/works perfectly fine.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:32 PM on July 19, 2016


We go through 9 bags a week at our place. No worries about freshness. They sit three to a large bag in the back left hand corner of the fridge. My two kids under 10 can replace them easily though occasionally the hole is larger than desirable and there is some swearing from the parents. The washed bags adorn our fridge, pinned with magnets and hung upside down to dry to be used in lunch boxes. I grew up in BC in the 70s and 80s, moved to Quebec in the 90s. Milk bags are all it ever was and all it ever shall be.
posted by Cuke at 10:29 PM on July 19, 2016


Do Canadians not know the thousands upon thousands of art projects that gallon jugs make?!go ahead and browse if you dare.

Yes but can they pick up dog shit?
posted by beau jackson at 6:56 AM on July 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Since I will probably never have any other opportunity to share my recently acquired knowledge, I'm doing it here: since milk bags are made of thick, sturdy plastic, they can be used in vacuum sealing systems like the Foodsaver. Excellent way to recycle them.
posted by VioletU at 7:33 AM on July 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


Here in western Wisconsin, my family routinely gets our whole milk in half-gallon bags from Kwik Trip, a convenience store in the Wisconsin-Minnesota-Iowa tri-state area. We have no shortage of milk options around here, and KT's bags are among the cheapest, typically less than $1.50 for a half-gallon of whole. They also have 2%, 1%, skim, and chocolate milk and orange juice in bags (just the one size). This area is thick with Kwik Trips, but I think even most locals still think milk bags are weird.

There's always a tower of white plastic pitchers available for free at the store. They have a little curled notch at the top for holding the folded edge of an open milk bag, though beware the leaks and spurts if the milk level is too high, in which case we use the fold-over-and-clip technique. The pitchers are not really good for anything else--the notch makes it so they don't pour well on their own--so it seems to work well to just have them out for the taking. They end up at local thrift stores, usually marked at like a quarter.

I find pitcher + bag a little more fussy and spill-prone than plastic jugs, and I'm less inclined to let my 5-year-old handle them. They work well for us overall, though, in part because of the preponderance of KTs. We also like their whole bean coffee and super-cheap bananas.

I have learned a few things here: that milk in bags is a Canadian thing, we should figure out how to reuse the bag (though KT's are opaque, which is maybe why I hadn't considered it), and we should try nipping two holes (though I'd feel compelled to close up both in the fridge).
posted by Leona at 8:01 AM on July 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there's a way to pitch milk-in-a-bag as a high priced item that could appeal to foodies?
posted by drezdn at 9:25 AM on July 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I make cheese with Canadian milk all the time. Works out great.

Not in our experience. We've used milk from Neilson Dairy (3.25%), in Eastern Ontario, and compared that with unfiltered, raw farm milk (from a b-i-l), and the difference in curd produced was astounding. Like factors of four or five more. Flavours were really nowhere near as good either.

Our in-law would sell his milk to that self-same dairy. So between him and us, the dairy is taking out far more than just a bit of extra cream. It's so expensive to use the retail milk, and the results so disappointing, that we've since stopped doing homemade cheese when my b-i-l sold the dairy business.
posted by bonehead at 10:36 AM on July 20, 2016


I vaguely recall milk bags, and around the late 80s or so there was a industry-wide move towards Tetra-Pak. Since it's all UHT, it's also easier to store in the pantry.

So it's neck-in-neck easy so far, except...with the carton you now have to cap and then uncap and recap very time you want milk. With the bag, you snip once and never have to deal with the opening again.
I think this is the first time ever I had a chance of posting this.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2016


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