The other day while at the grocery store, I saw an ice cream container that stated, "Now made with real cream." Odd, I thought to myself. Isn't ice cream made with cream and sugar? Is this something that needs to be specified now? After reading the ingredients, I noticed the words "modified milk ingredients" and decided I needed to do more research.
"Modified milk" is a term used to identify a variety of milk ingredients. It's like the party mix of the milk world; it's got a little bit of everything in it. Milk ingredients can come from any form of chemically modified milk source.
What does that mean?
Well simply put, things like calcium, fat, whey protein, casein, and several other milk components have been extracted to give it the taste of cream, but can't actually be called cream. The result of the extraction process can either be in powder or paste form. Are you getting the chocolate sauce and maraschino cherries ready?
Milk is said to be the building block of most dairy products including ice cream, yogurt, butter and cheese. However, since milk basically undergoes so many changes throughout the processing stage of these products, it can no longer be called milk, and ice cream can no longer be called ice cream. And so we are presented with 'modified milk ingredients'.
That being said, it would be safe to say that it's almost impossible to find ice cream made with "real cream" in the supermarket these days, simply because most products now contain modified milk ingredients instead of real cream. If you look closely, most ice cream containers actually say "frozen dessert" instead of "ice cream."
What exactly is a "frozen dessert"?
A frozen dessert is simply a dessert created through a process of freezing liquid and semi-solid ingredients. Again, not much real milk or cream to be found anywhere. It can comprise of flavored water, fruit purées, milk and cream, custard, or mousse. In Ireland and the UK, frozen desserts are commonly referred to as "ices." In Canada, the term in used on products that have a similar taste and texture to ice cream.
These modified milk ingredients are mostly raw products that are derived from milk and include butter oil, casein, whey and powdered milk. I wanted to take a closer look at these ingredients:
Butter oil is what's left once all the moisture and non-fat milk solids have been removed from butter! It is primarily used in liquid form since it makes it easier to mix with food recipes.
- Butter oil makes other food taste and smell better.
- It makes pie shells and pastries fluffier.
- It doesn't splatter when sautéing; it melts easily and is therefore easier to mix with other ingredients.
- Gives food a longer shelf life and makes things like chocolate last longer by controlling the fat bloom.
Casein comes from the Latin word "caseus," meaning cheese. Casein is a protein most commonly found in mammalian milk. There would be no cheese without casein. Cheese is produced by coagulating casein
- Works as an effective protein supplement
- Is used in some fluoride products to help make your teeth stronger
- Can produce allergic reactions especially if you're lactose intolerance
Whey or milk plasma is the liquid remnants after milk has been strained and curdled. It is a by-product of the processing of casein and cheese.
- Whey makes yogurt thinner
- Grains and beans that are soaked in whey make them easier to digest and allow the body to utilize more nutrients
- Can be used as an additional condiment for marinating meat
- Drinking whey protein can give a boost of essential nutrients needed by the body
- Can be used to replace vinegar when making pickled vegetables
- People who are allergic to milk (lactose intolerant) are high risk for developing an allergic reaction when drinking whey protein drinks.
Powdered milk is a dry product, created by removing water from the milk through evaporation. This is the most convenient modified milk ingredient since it can be stored unrefrigerated, unless it is mixed with other raw ingredients for cooking, baking, or drinking. Its flavor is a little different from fresh milk, but this difference is barely noticeable.
- Used to make low fat cheese
- Makes frozen fish taste fresh
- Soothes sunburn and bug bites
- Softens skin
- Used to prepare pastries
- Mixed in bread dough
- Along with the process of evaporation, some of the Vitamin content of milk can be stripped off, leaving the powdered milk with less Vitamin A content.
- Making a formula out of powdered milk and water can be hazardous to the health, especially if you mixed in unclean water.
My Verdict on Modified Milk Products:
Try to consume real milk and cream whenever possible. Dairy products such as sour cream, ice cream, yogurt, and various cheeses can be and often are made using modified milk products. Levels are adjusted to create a product that has the same texture as real milk at an affordable price.
I would not recommend consuming modified milk products. Please remember that once things are altered, they often have an inflammatory effect on the body. When you have a choice, choose Mother Nature.
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