Whole milk: The reason whole milk is so good for growing children is that it has many nutrients needed for good health. It has a natural fat content of 3.5 per cent, contains protein and carbohydrates, and is a good source of calcium, an important mineral for growing children’s bones and teeth. In addition to all that, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals.
It’s for these reasons that anyone living on a budget should choose milk first and foremost – in fact, milk is the cheapest nourishment on offer.In cooking, whole milk should be used to make white sauces and milk puddings, and substituting half the amount of stock needed with milk when making vegetable soups gives a lovely creamy texture and flavour.
Semi-skimmed milk: This has all the virtues of whole milk, except that some of the fat has been removed, leaving between 1.5 and 1.8 per cent. Because of this, it is actually better in tea and coffee and, I think, works better in batters for pancakes or Yorkshire puddings.
For anyone wishing to cut some of the fat content in their diet, semi-skimmed milk is an excellent choice, as it still retains some creaminess.
Skimmed milk: This is the one for people who are following a low-fat diet, as only a trace (0.3 per cent) remains. Even so, skimmed milk is still highly nutritious and is an excellent source of calcium, and contains everything that whole and semi-skimmed milk has but without the fat. It can be used in all recipes requiring milk, but obviously won’t give the same degree of creaminess.
Channel Island milk: This comes from Guernsey and Jersey cows. It is the richest, creamiest milk of all and has the highest fat content at around 5 per cent. Really, you could describe this as luxury milk and, as the name suggests, it’s best of all for pouring on cereals or porridge. Needless to say, though, it is also wonderful for making creamy sauces and milk puddings.
Pasteurised milk: This is simply milk that has undergone heat treatment: a mere five seconds at 72 C purifies it but, at the same time, leaves all the important vitamins, minerals and proteins virtually unchanged.
Homogenised milk: When you leave pasteurised or other milk to stand, the small amount of cream present settles at the top. What homogenisation does, through a special treatment, is distribute the cream (milk-fat globules) evenly throughout the milk so this separation does not occur.
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