In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat curdled milk?”, and how to prevent your sauce or soup from curdling?
Read on if you are dealing with a curdled cheese sauce and don’t know how to fix it.
Can you eat curdled milk?
Yes, curdled milk is safe to eat. It can be used as an alternative to buttermilk, regular milk, yogurt, or sour cream in baked goods. Adding a splash of curdled milk to soups, stews, and casseroles won’t be noticeable and impart richness to the finished product.
Sour or curdled milk can be used to enhance the texture and flavor of dressings like ranch, Caesar, or blue cheese. You can use curdled milk to extract cottage cheese from it.
Curdled milk can be used as a tenderizer for meat or fish. Besides, you can use it to soften uncooked whole grains.
How many ways can milk curdle?
Milk can curdle even when it is not exposed to heat. You may have experienced it when you take out your milk from the fridge the next day, only to find it all curdled. This happens because milk was subjected to temperature fluctuations earlier.
As a result of which, the bacteria start to ferment the milk sugars and produce milk acids that encourage the milk proteins to bond and curdle. This milk is called sour milk and it has a variety of uses.
Yogurt, sour cream, kefir, and some types of cheese are made on the same principle. Accidentally soured milk makes for a great buttermilk substitute in recipes that rely on baking soda for leavening.
Another way milk curdles is when subjected to high heat over a rather short span. It is discussed in the article below.
The science of curdled milk
Milk is an oil-in-water emulsion consisting of 3 main components called butterfat, proteins, and water. Boiling or heating pulls apart these components from each other. Proteins denature at high temperatures and separate to curdle to form the curdled milk.
This is the principle of cheese making that involves protein coagulation, rennet addition, and finally the draining of the whey protein liquid.
How to prevent your sauce or soup from curdling?
Curdled soup or smooth is not a pleasant sight. To avoid this from happening, you need to follow the tips below when heating your soup or sauce.
Don’t let it boil
Never boil the milk if you want to keep it from curdling. The flame should be nice and slow. Consistent simmering heat is all it takes to thoroughly heat your soup or sauce. A sudden temperature increase will also result in curdling.
Stabilize with a starch
Change the composition of the milk by adding flour or cornstarch in your soup or sauce before the addition of milk. Adding a roux will stabilize the milk emulsion.
Avoid strong acids
Heating the soups or sauces that contain an acidic ingredient like lemon juice, tomato juice or wine will trigger the curdling. To avoid this from happening, balance the acid by adding starch.
Save the seasoning for the end
Salt added before heating will have enough time and temperature to trigger the milk to curdle. Therefore, you must add it after you are done reducing your soup or sauce.
Temper the milk
Adding cold milk to a hot liquid will inevitably curdle the proteins. To counter this problem, you need to gently warm your milk in a saucepan before mixing it with the hot liquid. Add it slowly to prevent splashes and make sure everything goes smooth.
Use cream instead
Instead of using milk standardized at 3.5% fat, use whole milk, whipping cream, or heavy cream that is high in fat.
These high-fat milk products are difficult to curdle even when exposed to high temperatures. Besides, they make your soup or sauce more smooth, silky, and rich.
How to save a curdled cheese sauce?
A gritty cheese sauce is a consequence of overheating. There are two ways you can fix a grainy cheese sauce.
First, you need to strain it using a fine-mesh sieve. Then you will have to blend the sauce using an immersion blender. Add more cheese to mask the effect.
The lesson is to never heat the cheese sauce after adding the cheese. Always reduce or boil the sauce with thickeners that have high-temperature stability.
Add the cheese off the flame and when you are satisfied with the final consistency of the base sauce.
In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat curdled milk?”, and how to prevent your sauce or soup from curdling?