The Skinny on... Milk

There's nothing silly about a milk mustache. This nutitional powerhouse is inexpensive, abundant and incredibly delicious in all its many forms.
Skinny On MilkThe Skinny On

Humans have been drinking milk for thousands of years, but only recently have so many options, including nondairy ones, been so widely available.

All about milk

  • Dairy milk is a nutritional powerhouse — it’s packed with protein, calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin. Federal law requires that lowfat and nonfat varieties be fortified with vitamin A, so often it provides more than whole. Many producers also add vitamin D.

  • Whole milk contains 3.5% milkfat, reduced fat has 2%, lowfat 1%, and nonfat must have no more than 0.5%.

  • Nearly all the dairy milk sold in the United States has been pasteurized (heated to kill bacteria, then chilled) and homogenized (processed to keep the fat from separating).

  • Lactose is the naturally occurring sugar in dairy milk. When a person’s body doesn’t produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed for digestion of lactose, stomach trouble results — that’s known as lactose intolerance.

  • The variety of nondairy milks now on the market is nothing short of dizzying. Most are sold in aseptic packaging, which is shelf-stable (refrigerate it after opening). Look for unsweetened varieties; some are also fortified with many of the nutrients found in dairy milk.

  • When buying, pick the latest possible sell-by date, and unless it’s in aseptic packaging, refrigerate as soon as possible. Milk should last about a week after the printed date, and buttermilk can stay fresh as long as 2 weeks.

  • Dairy milk scorches and curdles quickly when cooked, and it sticks to the bottom of the pan. Use a double boiler to prevent problems. Nondairy milks are fine for cooking and baking — experiment to see which one you prefer. Just be sure to choose an unsweetened variety, and shake well before each use.

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