A Milk Primer
Anatomy of milk
• Raw cow's milk is about 87 percent water, about 5percent sugar, about 3 1⁄2 percent protein, and just under 4percent fat.
• Because fat is lighter than water, unhomogenized milkseparates so that cream rises to the top; when skimmed off, themilk that's left is almost fat-free.
• One cup of milk contains about 102 milligrams ofsodium.
• Ninety-eight percent of milk in the United States isvitamin D-fortified; one cup of fortified milk contains 25 percentof the Daily Value for vitamin D.
• When fat is removed from milk, vitamin A is removed,too. That's why two percent, one percent, and fat-free milk aremost often fortified with this vitamin. One cup of fortified milkcontains 10 percent of the Daily Value for vitamin A.
• One cup of milk also provides 20 percent of the DailyValue for phosphorous.
With none of its inherent fat removed, whole milk is thick and rich. Each eight-ounce glass has 146calories, 7.9 grams of fat, and 276 milligrams of calcium. Wholemilk is recommended as a beverage for children under the age oftwo, but in most cases is considered too high in fat for adults andolder children to drink regularly. It can, however, play animportant role in cooking. It adds silky texture to sauces andsoups, contributes flavor and texture to baked goods, and lendsgolden gloss to doughs and crusts.
An eight-ounce glass of two percent (reduced-fat) milk contains 121 calories, 4.7grams of fat, and 297 milligrams of calcium, while the same servingof one percent, or low-fat, milk has 102 calories, 2.6 grams offat, and 300 milligrams of calcium. How do you know which one touse?
When considering which milk to drink, the question is simply howmuch you value the increased creaminess of the two percent milkover the reduction in calories and fat of one percent or fat-freemilk. When cooking, the decision is often more clear. For example,when making ice cream, you may need more fat for better results.The fat in the milk not only lends fullness of flavor but alsointerferes with the formation of ice crystals so the ice cream isrendered velvety smooth.
Other dishes, like the flour-thickened sauce in StovetopMac and Cheese, rely on other ingredients or techniques fortexture and are dependent on milk mostly for flavor and liquidity.So a lower-fat milk works fine in these cases.
Fat-free milk is many people's milk beverage of choice. Alsocalled skim milk, it contains no fat, only 83 calories, and 306milligrams of calcium per eight-ounce glass. Lower-fat milks havemore calcium per cup than whole milk because in whole milk some ofthe volume is displaced by milk fat, which has no calcium. Usefat-free milk on cereal, in coffee, as a drink-and to make certaindishes, such as puddings and cheese sauces, where the milk providesbackground flavor, and other ingredients, such as flour orcornstarch, lend texture.
Whipping cream (or heavy whipping cream) has 51 calories and5.6 grams of fat per tablespoon. When beaten, whipping creamdoubles in volume to create a classic dessert topping. (Neitherlight whipping cream nor light cream contains enough fat to holdits shape when whipped.) Whipping cream is the only type of milkthat is heat stable-that is, it won't curdle when brought to aboil. Use it to enrich sauces and soups, adding just a bit at atime-it can take as little as a tablespoon to add the right amountof body and rich mouthfeel.
Half-and-half is a mixture of equal parts milk and cream,and weighs in with only 20 calories and 1.7 grams of fat pertablespoon. Use it to finish sauces and soups, but add it off thestove or over lower heat to prevent it from curdling.
Buttermilk was traditionally the liquid that remained afterbutter was churned from cream. Today, buttermilk is made by addingbacteria cultures to fat-free, low-fat, or whole milk. Buttermilkhas a thick consistency and tart flavor. It's often used for cakes,biscuits, pancakes, and quick breads.
Acidophilus milk is whole, reduced-fat, or fat-free milkwith friendly Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria added to it. The bacteriais believed to benefit the digestive tract, much the same wayyogurt does.