One of the things that has taken a while to get comfortable with here in Central America is milk (leche, in Spanish). Not the product itself - the milk here is really good. It's the way it is sold and stored. For as long as I lived in the US, milk was always found in the refrigerated section in the grocery store. It was bought cold and stored cold, with an expiration date of typically a week to 10 days.
When I started buying groceries in Costa Rica, I went to the refrigerated section to find milk. There might be a few containers of milk there but I found most of the milk was on the store shelves. I thought, "That's just plain crazy! How can you leave milk sitting out for days or weeks at room temperature? Yuck!"
Well, after being here a while, I've gotten comfortable with the fact that the milk here is "ultrapasteurized" (and homogenized) and is shelf-stable for an extended period of time. Once opened, of course, it stays in the fridge.
Almost all of the milk is sold in one liter containers, rather than gallon (or equivalent) sized jugs. It's easy to store but, unfortunately, creates more trash. Milk is available in all the different varieties: whole, 1%, 2%, non-fat, and lactose-free. We buy our milk in a box of 12 one-liter boxes from Pricesmart (equivalent to Costco). We store it in the pantry and keep a couple of boxes in the refrigerator for current use. The milk I just bought yesterday (5/13) has an expiration date of Oct 25th! We don't have to worry about throwing milk out because it's expired...
Anyway, I just thought I'd share a little tidbit about everyday life in Central America. Got Leche?
Posted by Mark.