Making Ultra High Temperature (UHT) Ultra Delicious

If it seems like people are always on the move, that’s because they are.

With this increased pace of work and even just plain everyday life, the demand for easy and convenient on-the-go food and beverage products is on the rise.

Whether it’s ready-to-drink, ready-to-mix, or ready-when-you-are, consumers want products that can keep up whenever and wherever.

In addition to being convenient, they also need to be able to fill you up, provide nutrition like protein, and maybe even throw in a functional benefit while you’re at it.

For many, dairy is uniquely suited to check all of these boxes.


From a development perspective, this translates to a need for shelf-stability, or in other words, high-heat processing.

But processing at high temperatures is nothing new, especially in dairy.

Still, as essential and crucial as thermal processing can be for these products, it isn’t without challenges.

Why Do We Need It

To be clear, all manner of packaged goods undergo thermal processing. From pasta sauce to pinto beans, orange juice and even eggs may undergo some form of heat treatment to kill microorganisms and postpone spoilage.

Various methods can be used depending on the product, such as canning and retortable pouches, in-container sterilization, pasteurization, and UHT (Ultra-High Temperature).

As pasteurization and UHT are the most commonly used in dairy, let’s take a deeper look.


How is It Done?

The main differences between pasteurization and UHT are:

  • Temperature
  • Duration
  • Resulting Product Shelf-Life

Pasteurization can be done as HTST (High-Temperature Short Time) at 71.7 C for at least 15 seconds or at 65.6 C over a longer period of time (min. 30 minutes).  When refrigerated, this can provide a product with a shelf life of between 10 and 21 days.

“UHT processed milk, however, will not have this concern,” says Peter Kern, Junior Flavourist at Edlong.


He adds, “As long as it is aseptically packaged in sterile containers and remains unopened, it can sit at room temperature without risk of contamination for six months or more.”

Taking a technical look at the differences, Kern explains, “Ultra-high temperature (UHT) refers to an aseptic processing method that uses very high temperatures, over 138°C (280 °F), for only a few seconds to destroy the microbes. For dairy especially, this process, while extreme, is favorable over a standard high-temperature short-time(HTST) process like flash pasteurization for products needing to last for an extended period of time.”

He continues, “This is because bacterial endospores—the dormant, tough, seed-like structure that will only activate under favorable conditions can survive other forms of pasteurization, and is why they must be kept refrigerated to prevent their reactivation. But, UHT reaches a temperature sufficient to kill the various living bacteria and deactivate the endospores completely.”

Kern adds, “This process is not without its issues. The extreme conditions can put a large amount of stress on the product, causing browning and adding cooked notes to your product. It may also eliminate some of the more delicate notes associated with fresh dairy.”

What Role Can Flavours Play?


Flavours can make all of the difference in dealing with the taste challenges of methods like UHT.

They can bring back fresh dairy notes, creaminess and mouthfeel, or add indulgent profiles to treat busy consumers.

With that said, not all of the volatile components responsible for characterising a given flavour react the same when you turn up the heat.

This can be addressed with techniques and technologies like spray drying and encapsulation to increase their stability.

On the other hand, products that form emulsions could trap these volatiles and protect them from high temperatures.

Kern stresses that finding the right flavour solution for your application requires collaboration.

“We really are all in this together. We pride ourselves on working alongside our customers as we formulate solutions that fit the needs of their specific base. Our expertise in the dairy space gives us an intimate knowledge of the molecular interactions occurring and the end products formed. We can then leverage that knowledge as we create flavour solutions for our customer’s unique applications.”

“Using synergistic relationships between molecules can modulate a system or develop targeted solutions to bring back some of those notes typically lost during high-temperature processing. We can use this to drive a product’s profile or simply add a little nuance to bring the flavour profile into focus.”

UHT can be crucial for meeting the needs of your busy consumers.

Let Edlong’s authentic flavours help you beat the heat and deliver the ultra-high taste they deserve.

About the Author: Emily Sheehan, Applications Manager, EMEA

Hi! I’m Emily Sheehan. I’m the Applications Manager, EMEA at Edlong, and my job is rooted in creating exciting new possibilities for our people and processes. It’s inspiring to reflect on how much Edlong has achieved and even more amazing to be involved in such thoughtful innovation. We enjoy pushing boundaries in food and flavour, and we welcome everyone in the food industry to join us. If you’re in need of expertise or inspiration, I’d love to collaborate and help you design flavour solutions that resonate with consumers!

Topics: Dairy flavors
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: EUUS


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