Perfect Cheese

Perfect Cheese
Cheese Making Equipment
Temperature Control
Humidity Control

4 Gal. Pasteurizing System - Part 1

For home / hobby cheesemakers wanting to pasteurize from 2 to 5 gal. of raw milk there are basically two options: one is to use a stock-pot on the stove (and spend a lot of time stirring and maintaining temperature) or purchase purchase a small pasturizer or canner.  Each of these have pros and cons, but we wondered if we could put together a low-cost system using (of course) rectangular steam-table pans  that would provide advantages not available with the other methods. 

Design objectives:

  • simple to use, safe and effective
  • double-shelled (with water pan) for uniform heating
  • capable of heating milk from 40F to 145F in an hour or less
  • capable of maintaining 145F +/- 1 deg. over 30 min. pasteurizing time
  • capable of cooling milk from 145F to 80F in less than 30 min.
  • capable of  processing up to 4 to 5 gal. at a time 
  • lower cost compared to commercial alternatives
  • does not require lifting pans to fill or drain
  • for home / hobby / farmstead operation
  • able to be used for preparing and cooking curds with no additional equipment


Water Pan:  Normally called a "spillage" or "water table" pan these are over-sized pans (aluminum or stainless steel) with straighter sides than the standard pans.  Dimensions of pan bottom are roughly 10.5" wide by 19" long.

Milk Pan:  We used a standard full-size 6" deep stainless steel pan that is placed into the water pan creating the double shell.  Two half-size pans (with the riser modifications) can also be used

Modifications to Milk Pan:  Polypropylene "risers" or spacers at each end raise the milk pan about 1.5" above the edge of the spillage pan.  These spacers do three things: (1) They let you add more water volume to the water pan which results in faster heating-to-target temperature, (2) They create a gap that allows you to insert a siphon hose to drain the water pan after the pasteurizing phase, and (3) they provide comfortable handles when handling the pan.

Electric Griddle:  We use a Presto 1500W model no. 07039 11" x 22" electric griddle that has a large enough surface to accommodate the over-sized spillage pan.  Option would be to use stove-top burner(s) but that will prevent automatic temperature control.

Temperature Controller (for water bath):  This was our LPTC digital temperature controller.  You can get by without a temperature controller but it will require more attention to maintain temperature. 

Temperature Sensor (for milk):  An accurate digital or dial thermometer to monitor milk temperature.  

Siphon:  A standard polyethylene bulb-and-hose siphon commonly used for pumping kerosene works good (as long as you don't use it for pumping kerosene too) and can be steam sterilized

Some background:

Some months ago there was a question on asking "Is there a less expensive way to safely pasteurize small volumes (4 to 5 gal. or less) of milk.  The context was directed toward agency approved (FDA, 3-A) for commercial use by small operations and creameries.  But it also raised the question whether there is a home / hobby / farmstead option that semi-automates the process without plunking down $400 for a 2+ gal. pasteurizer.  

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