What does milk taste like?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “what does milk taste like” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile and nutritional profile of milk. Moreover, we are going to discuss the plant-based milk varieties and the proper way to store milk to preserve its freshness for a long time.
The percentage of people with an impaired ability to digest lactose varies widely per country and per continent, from 98–100% of adults in Southeast Asia to just 1% in the Netherlands. However, lactose-free dairy has currently a wide and growing health appeal to all consumers and in countries where most people are lactose tolerant (5).
So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.
What does milk taste like?
So while talking about the taste profile of the milk, it is bland in taste with a slight hint of sweetness. Moreover, the milk has a smooth and silky mouthfeel.
Since milk is consumed after heat treatment, depending on the time and temperature of the treatment (pasteurization, UHT), chemical changes occur in the fatty acids of whole milk, producing free radicals derived from unsaturated fat, which oxidize during storage and are described as cardboard flavor, metallic taste, and boiled milk flavor. In both fat-free and whole milk, conjugated fatty acids bound to amino acids are released and produce typical aroma compounds. Other aromatic compounds, such as furaldehyde, benzaldehyde, and furoic acid are artifacts resulting from thermal treatments of milk. In addition, heat treatments lead to Maillard reaction, between highly accessible lactose and different proteins. The main compounds resulting from this reaction, responsible for the caramel-like flavor of dairy products, are hydroxymethylfurfural, maltol, furfuryl alcohol, furfural and 2-acetylfuran (1,2,3).
Milk is highly nutritious and contains a good amount of macro and micronutrients. Milk is a rich source of protein and contains about 7.7 grams of proteins per cup (240 ml). Milk contains about 80% of the casein while 20% of the whey protein. While talking about the fat content of the milk, different variants of milk have different fat values. Whole milk contains about 3.7% fat, semi-skimmed milk contains about 1.7% fat, 1% fat milk contains 1%, while the skimmed milk contains about 0.3% fat in its formulation (4).
Moreover, milk is also rich in many vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and riboflavin. Some varieties of milk are also fortified with vitamin D which along with calcium plays an important role in improving bone health.
You can read about the benefits of milk here.
What is lactose-free milk?
Lactose free-milk is made from the milk that is collected from the cows. It has a lactase enzyme additionally added to it that breaks down the lactose part of the milk and makes it suitable for lactose-intolerant people.Currently, two processes (batch and aseptic) are in use to produce lactose-free milk and both these processes use soluble lactase enzyme. The enzyme used for the production of lactose-free dairy products has traditionally been the neutral β-galactosidase derived from the dairy yeast Kluyveromyces lactis (and its close relatives Saccharomyces lactis, K. marxianus or K. fragilis). Apart from that, it has almost the same consistency, texture, and nutritional profile as that of regular milk but the lactose-free milk is sweeter than regular milk. There are 8 grams of protein in one cup (240 ml) of lactose-free milk. Lactose-free milk is also rich in many micronutrients like phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin, and vitamin B12 (5).
What is rice milk?
Rice milk contains approximately the same amount of calcium and vitamin D as that of regular cow milk. But it is less creamy than regular milk and contains only 1 gram of protein per cup. It is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies (6).
What is almond milk?
Almond milk is a great milk substitute as it is low in calories but one thing to keep in consideration is that it is very low in protein and has only 1 gram of protein in one cup of almond milk. As no milk or milk products are used in its formulation so it does not have lactose, whey protein, or casein protein present in it which makes it suitable for people with lactose intolerance, milk allergies. As it is a plant-based milk variant, therefore, it can also be utilized by vegans and vegetarians. While talking about its texture it is thinner as compared to regular milk. In general, almond milk is added with vitamins and sugars, as well as other additives (6).
Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.
How do you store unused coconut milk?
What is cashew milk?
Cashew milk is a low-calorie milk substitute and different manufacturers fortify it with variable amounts of vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin A, which are added to the product. It has low protein content and contains only 1 gram of protein per cup. It is a source of unsaturated fatty acids. It is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies (6).
What is coconut milk?
Coconut milk is a good source of fats, including unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin B12. But when it comes to the protein content of coconut milk it provides only 1 gram of protein per cup and it is also low in calcium. It is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies (6,8)..
What is soy milk?
Soy milk is a low-calorie milk substitute that has its protein content comparable to that of regular cow milk. Ir provides 7 grams of proteins per cup. It is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and people with lactose intolerance or milk allergies (8).
There are a couple of other plant-based milk varieties like hazelnut milk, macadamia-nut milk, oat milk, spelt milk, and hemp milk available in the market.
How should you store milk?
- You should always store the milk at 40°F or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time (7).
- Milk can pick up odors therefore it should be stored in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge. Moreover, it should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, etc.
- It is better to store the milk on a shelf of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge and that can harm the quality of milk.
- It is the best practice to store the milk on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has its temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “what does milk taste like” with an in-depth analysis of the taste profile and nutritional profile of milk. Moreover, we discussed the plant-based milk varieties and the proper way to store milk to preserve its freshness for a long time.
- Lopez, Victoria, and Robert C. Lindsay. Metabolic conjugates as precursors for characterizing flavor compounds in ruminant milks. J Agric Food Chem, 1993, 41, 446-454.
- Hedegaard, R. V., et al. Comparison of descriptive sensory analysis and chemical analysis for oxidative changes in milk. J Dairy Sci, 2006, 89, 495-504.
- Starowicz, Małgorzata, and Henryk Zieliński. How Maillard reaction influences sensorial properties (color, flavor and texture) of food products?. Food Rev Int, 2019, 35, 707-725.
- Pereira, Paula C. Milk nutritional composition and its role in human health. Nutrition, 2014, 30, 619-627.
- Dekker, Peter JT, Damiet Koenders, and Maaike J. Bruins. Lactose-Free Dairy Products: Market Developments, Production, Nutrition and Health Benefits. Nutrients, 2019, 11.
- Drewnowski, Adam. Most Plant-Based Milk Alternatives in the USDA Branded Food Products Database Do Not Meet Proposed Nutrient Standards or Score Well on Nutrient Density Metrics. Nutrients, 2022, 14, 4767.
- Milk. The Nutrition Source. Harvard University.
- Singhal, Sarita, Robert D. Baker, and Susan S. Baker. A comparison of the nutritional value of cow’s milk and nondairy beverages. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr, 2017, 64, 799-805.