Wednesday, February 06, 2008

What We Don't Have in America #6

#6 Bags of Milk

Milk here (and in various other countries) comes in bags as well as boxes and 1 liter bottles. They have the Tetra-Pak boxes of milk in the U.S., but not the bags. I first encountered Tetra-Pak boxed milk in the Army. It has a long shelf life and doesn't require refrigeration just like the Tetra-Pak bags. No one in the Army really liked the stuff because it has a strange taste to it due to the way it's processed.

They also sell fresh milk in bags, but the problem is that it rarely is fresh. We've learned not to buy fresh milk when the weather is warm because it's usually bad (bloated bags are a bad sign). There doesn't seem to be a huge priority to keep milk refrigerated before you buy it here. Even when "fresh" milk hasn't spoiled, it often has a funky taste to it. Unlike dairy cows in the U.S., there isn't the same consistency in what the cows eat so the flavor of the milk suffers. I've also heard that the way the milk is handled can affect its flavor too. You can buy whole unpasteurized milk from the little babusyas who sell the milk from their cows by the market.

All this being said, we usually stick to the boxed milk or the Tetra-Pak bags. I think it's interesting to note that bags are sold by weight not volume. They are normally 900 grams or 1 kg (.45 lbs) which usually works out to be about a liter. I have to admit that bags can be handy to carry as you can slip them into the pockets of your jacket for the walk home. It takes about 3.8 bags to make a gallon, so I can't imagine buying milk by the gallon when you have to carry it home. In the U.S. we usually bought two gallons at a time, sometimes three. Those days are long gone.

One thing that I really like is sour cream in a bag. It seems to keep better and is easier to dispense into your borshch. Ice cream also comes in a bag, but I'm still undecided as to how I feel about that. So far I haven't found any chocolate milk in a bag, so if anyone sees any please let me know.

1 comment:

Anya said...

hi! it's so fun that you're doing these. i would've never noticed - they are just a part of life for me..... except the one where the baby was left unattended (yikes)