Is all milk the same, whether it’s name brand or not? Around here, store brand milk is frequently 20-30¢ cheaper per gallon, with zero extra work involved. Is it just as good?
Yes, with a few exceptions. Most store band milks are actually bottled at the same dairies as the name brand jugs next to them. I used to work with a girl who had worked for a dairy and understood all those random looking numbers printed on jugs. She found it entertaining when people complained about a certain store brand milk when she recognized from those numbers that brand was actually from the same dairy as a “respectable” brand the complainer would drink. Save your money.
The main exception to this principle is specialty milk, whether organic, chocolate, lactose-free, or some other strange type. While we can’t taste those hormones that some brands advertise not having, we can taste the difference when cows eat different diets. Organic milk more likely comes from grass-fed cows rather than grain-fed cows. It seems strange that we can taste the difference, but think on this: the classic extreme example of cows eating the wrong food and ruining their milk is when they eat onions. It doesn’t seem as strange that we can taste the onions. Grain vs. grass is a smaller difference, but we can taste it anyway.
Another difference in milk taste is how the milk is processed. There are a few routes to pasteurizing milk, and we’re accustomed to certain ways. If you’ve purchased milk in a box on an non-refrigerated shelf, you’ve tasted milk that was pasteurized in a less common way. Shelf-stable milk is pasteurized more thoroughly, but the taste is considered inferior by most Americans.