Milk is one of the most important basic purchases for every family. It is an important part of our diet as it provides calcium and other nutrients suitable for human requirements at different age stages. With the variety of types and tastes of milk and its various sources and uses, the task of choosing has become more complex and confusing.
What type of milk is available in the markets? How do we choose among them? Is plant-based milk a safe alternative to animal sources?
There are two main types of milk available on the market: animal milk and plant milk, and the choice between them depends on the consumer's dietary type and nutritional preferences, in addition to environmental considerations.
Cows, buffaloes, sheep, and camels are the primary sources of animal milk, although cattle milk is most widespread in commercial markets in various forms:
Raw or local milk: This is milk that comes directly from cattle before undergoing pasteurization or other heat treatment, and is not widely available for purchase due to safety concerns.
pasteurized milk: Most types of milk on the market are pasteurized by heating fresh milk to 74 °C for 15 seconds to get rid of bacteria and germs, then cooling it and filling it into sterile containers with a limited shelf life of no more than about 3 days. is done. It is always advisable to buy pasteurized milk.
Longevity Milk: It undergoes extreme heat treatment, where fresh milk is heated to 140 degrees Celsius for two seconds, and then filled into sterile containers. This heat treatment gives it a shelf life of up to 6 months without the need for refrigeration, but once the package is opened, it must be kept in the refrigerator and used within 7 days.
milk fat level
Pasteurized milk and long-life milk are marketed based on their fat content as follows:
- full fat milk: This includes all the fat content, which is estimated to be about 3.5% of the total weight of the milk.
- Low Fat Milk 2%: Milk fat represents 2% of the total weight, and contains few calories.
- Low Fat Milk 1%: Milk fat represents 1% of total weight, and contains very few calories.
- skimmed milk: It contains almost no fat, and has a watery consistency that often loses the characteristic flavor of milk. It is considered a major source of protein, as it has a very high percentage of protein compared to calories.
- Lactose Free Milk: Most of the world's population suffers from intolerance to lactose (the natural sugar found in milk), so lactose-free alternatives have been provided, as milk has added lactase, an enzyme that breaks down the lactose in it.
- evaporated milk (Unsweetened condensed milk): About 60% of the water in it is evaporated, then immediately cooled and packaged. It began to be used in the late nineteenth century as a means of preserving milk without refrigeration. It is used in recipes that call for cream or whole milk because it is thicker, and in savory dishes such as pasta and sweet dishes such as cakes.
- sweetened condensed milk: It is prepared in the same way as evaporated milk, but usually has large amounts of sugar added to it, making it sweeter, and is used to decorate cakes and prepare ice cream.
- powdered milk: Milk production in Sweden was more than needed, yet it could not be exported or continued to be used because it spoiled quickly, so the invention of powdered milk and storing it at room temperature for a long time. Efforts were made to preserve it.
- Homogenized Milk: Homogenization is a process in which fat molecules are broken up and dispersed in milk so that they do not rise to the surface, creating a layer of cream or cream, a step that does not involve any additives or chemical treatments. Is.
- creamy milk (Half and Half): This is an equal mixture of whole milk and cream, and is used in making soups and sauces.
- Organic milk: Produced by livestock reared according to organic grazing and farming practices.
Plant-based milk sales are seeing significant growth, and according to a report from the “Fortune Business” website, the global dairy alternatives market is expected to grow from $22.25 billion in 2021 to $53.97 billion in 2028, and plant- Based milk it is a suitable option for those who follow a plant-based diet or suffer from dairy allergies and lactose intolerance. The types of plant milk are:
- Soy Milk: It is the most popular type of plant-based milk, and an important source of plant-based protein.
- coconut milk: It has been a traditional food ingredient in Southeast Asia for centuries. It is used in cooking more than in drinks, and its diluted form is used in making drinks such as coffee.
- Badam Milk: It is considered the lowest type in terms of calories, and when manufactured, it is boosted with nutrients such as calcium, iodine, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
- Cashew Milk: It has the same calories as whole milk, because it has more fat and less protein and carbohydrates.
- oat milk: Its consistency is medium to thick, but not creamy.
- Pea Lover: Unlike many types of plant milks, it is considered a rich source of protein.
- rice milk: It contains small amounts of protein and fat, and has a mild sweetness due to its high carbohydrate content.
- Potato Milk: It began production in the UK in February 2022 as one of the most sustainable dairy alternatives on the market.
Tips before buying milk
Check the production date of milk on the packaging before purchasing, as it is a highly perishable product.
- It is best to close the dried milk package tightly after each use to prevent moisture accumulation.
- Plant-based milks do not provide the same amount of additional nutrients, and vary from brand to brand, so check the ingredient labels on the package.
- Rice milk is the ideal choice for those who suffer from lactose intolerance, or allergies to soy and nuts. However, it is not recommended for infants, children, and pregnant women due to the levels of inorganic arsenic in it.