Coming from the UK I am used to drinking fresh pasteurised milk, I wrongly assumed that milk in Germany would be the same. It’s not. Here the long-life (langer haltbare) and ultra heat treated (UHT) milk are kings, and until I found the one local supermarket that sold real milk I was having to consider giving up tea, which would have been a tragedy indeed. Unfortunately the supermarket only sold one brand and was regularly out of stock so when I saw a sign for farm fresh milk I had to investigate. I’m so glad I did.
Getting back from holiday, getting caught out by a mid week public holiday or simply when the supermarket has run out of real milk meant I needed an alternative source, preferably one that was available 24/7. luckily for me Germany has a growing number of milk machines which serve farm fresh milk. If you are looking to lower your food miles then buying milk direct from the dairy is just about perfect, usually you can see (hear and smell) the cows whilst you are filling up your bottle.
The milk in the machines is pasteurised, not raw (Vorzugsmilch), but also not UHT. Basically the kind of milk that is easily available in the UK. Raw milk in Germany is strictly labelled and packaged and must come with a warning that the milk must be boiled before use. The milk available from the machines is usually 3-3.8% which whilst I was a staunch skimmed milk (1%) drinker in the UK I have been happy to adapt to because the quality is top notch. So whilst the milk from the machines doesn’t last as long as a long-life carton from the supermarket and MUST be refrigerated, it tastes fresh and utterly delicious.
This was one of the first machines I found locally, three years on the glass bottle is still going strong. The reusable milk bottle was paid for via an honesty box, whilst the money for the milk went straight into the machine. It takes maybe 30 seconds to fill up your litre bottle, and off you go. This shed is open 24/7 and houses the milk machine and other produce from the farm like free range eggs.
The sheds or cabins can be as basic or elaborate as the farmer desires. Some have frilly curtains and corn dollies, but all of them are well equipped and easy to use. Reusable bottles are generally available to buy, glass is more common but plastic is sometimes available and yes you can bring your own litre bottle if you prefer.
The machines are very easy to use, no need to know German, just follow the pictures. They also usually take paper money as well as change but only in smaller denominations. It goes without saying to clean up after yourself and leave everything how you found it, there is generally a bin and some kitchen towel for accidents and spills.
An increasing number of milk machines have a farm produce vending machine next to them, here you can even pick up your drinking chocolate as well as your milk. The cows are also metres away from the machine, these are some award winning cows, as far as food miles goes, basically none.
This milk machine (and there’s a food vending machine too) has it’s own parking spot. This one does close overnight, it is on the outskirts of town and overlooked by tower blocks, but it is always open bright and early, farmers hours.
Some machines are a little more rustic than others, and not all farms are registered on website databases. This doesn’t mean that they are unregulated or of lesser quality, they are just harder to find, but when you do find a good one share that news with everyone. This particular place also makes their own raw milk cheese, which are delicious.
If you get thirsty whilst you’re filling up your bottle or you just need a cold drink, there may be some handy beakers available. Always cheaper than a bottle of water or a coffee.
And if you forget your bottle completely, and there are no more onsite, a kind farmer might take pity on you and find you an alternative. Still paid a deposit (pfand) though!
- Cheaper than the supermarket (for the same pasteurised milk)
- 70cents – 1 Euro per litre for the actual milk
- 1 Euro – 3.50 Euro for a reusable glass bottle
- 25 cents to 50 cents for a reusable plastic bottle
How to find a milk machine
All you need is you postcode/ZIP code or town and these two websites will find your nearest available machines –
Milchtankstelle currently has 248 machines registered in it’s scheme which covers Germany Austria and the Netherlands. Their website is available in English, German and Dutch.
REGIOMAT Which has milk as well as food vending machines.
– Also Keep your eyes open when you are out and about, lots of smaller producers aren’t registered on any schemes and rely on word of mouth to bring customers to their farm. Ask your friends and neighbours if they know of any nearby.
If you haven’t yet read the #1 Vending machines post I suggest you go over and check that one out too since the two often come hand in hand.
So do you get your milk from a machine? Have I convinced you to go out and find one for yourself? And if you find a good one, let me know!
Coming up next Verkaufsoffener Sonntag