In the world of the coffee shop, milk is such a well-loved and used ingredient as to become – together with coffee – the co-star of the creations of real artists, the experts in latte art, like the Italian champion Matteo Beluffi that we interviewed recently. The market offers a wide range of products to meet the different needs of consumers. That way it is possible to satisfy the needs and preferences regarding personal taste, specific dietary needs or storage-time. In this article, we will be looking at what types of milk are available and how they differ from each other in terms of treatment, the percentage of fats they contain and various other characteristics.
Types of milk in terms of heat treatment
Based on the heat treatments they have undergone, it is possible to distinguish different types of milk with specific characteristics and storage times which vary from a few days to several months (before opening the packaging). Let’s take a look.
Freshly milked milk, which has not yet undergone any kind of treatment, is unpasteurized milk. It is marketed usually where it is produced or on tap in special distributors, and also used in the cheesemaking industry.
In this category we find the types of milk which can be kept for a short period: fresh milk is obtained from a raw material, which undergoes one single pasteurization treatment within 48 hours of milking. If refrigerated, this milk will keep for 6 days.
High Quality fresh milk, on the other hand, is a variety of full-fat milk which undergoes a particular pasteurization treatment which enhances its natural properties. By law, in this product category, it is only possible to have products which have passed specific tests and have above average quality. This group of products, too, has a shelf-life of six days from the time of production, if appropriately refrigerated. High Quality fresh milk must come from certain breeds of cow, fed in a strictly controlled way, but the indications also concern the hygiene conditions of the stalls, the milking and collection phases, treatment and packaging.
Micro-filtered milk has the same nutritional value as pasteurized milk, but with a longer conservation time: in fact it can be kept in the refrigerator for two weeks. Milk pasteurized at high temperatures, on the other hand, is the type which undergoes a single ESL (Extended Shelf-life) pasteurization treatment, more intense than the one applied to fresh milk (but less intense than the one for UHT milk), in other words, two pasteurizations. If refrigerated, it can be kept for two weeks.
This is the milk category where we find sterilized milk and UHT milk. The former undergoes a treatment which allows it to be kept at room temperature for a long period and thus to be transported long distances more easily. In this case, however, the effect on the nutritional content of the product is significant. This is why sterilized milk is no longer marketable as it was in the past. The conservation time is more than 6 months.
The UHT category of milk is sterilized with ultra rapid treatment at high temperature (lower than that of classic sterilization). These days, the nutritional and organoleptic parameters of this product have improved, and the maximum conservation time at room temperature is three months.
Both types of milk, naturally, must be kept in the fridge after opening and must be consumed within a maximum of 2 days.
Types of milk according to fat-content
It is also possible to distinguish different types of milk based on their fat content. In fact we have:
● full-fat milk, which must contain at least 3.5% fat;
● half-fat milk, which contains between 1.5% and 1.8% fat (a part of the fat is removed using a special process);
● skimmed or low-fat milk, which contains between 0.1% and 0.3% fat.
And it’s not just the flavor and calorie content that varies: skimmed milk, for example, is not so suitable for foaming for creating cappuccinos or caffè macchiati, because it doesn’t contain enough fat.
Types of milk
A further distinction between the different types of milk available is based on other product characteristics, relating to production methods or enrichment with nutrients. This is the case, for example, of “functional” milk, designed to offer greater health benefits. Let’s see how many types there are.
his is obtained by respecting the rules of organic production, oriented around having a sustainable system throughout the supply chain. Important aspects include specific foodstuffs fed to the livestock and the overall improvement of its life cycle in harmony with the environment.
Milk specifically designed for cappuccinos
Specifically formulated to make it easier to foam for cappuccinos. On the market we find this type of product both in the form of fresh milk, obtained via a pasteurization treatment to balance out the content of cream and proteins, and in the from of long-life milk, to which siero-proteins have been added to optimize the emulsion.
These products are fortified with an increase in the concentration of some natural ingredients, such as vitamins, proteins and calcium.
With integrated milks, some components which are naturally present in small amounts or totally absent in the natural product are added to it, such as soluble dietary fiber, iron, Omega 3 fatty acids and royal jelly.
Lactose-free or low-lactose milk
Both low-lactose milk and other products have a greatly reduced lactose content, since they have been specially designed for consumers who have difficulty assimilating this sugar. Lactose accounts for 98% of the total sugars present in milk. In Europe and North America, the population as a whole has a greater ability to digest it, in contrast to a significant proportion of people of Asian, African or native American origin.
The difficulty in digesting lactose depends on a temporary or permanent deficit of lactase, which may be linked, for example, to age or the presence of intestinal problems. In low-lactose products, via a special procedure, the vast majority of the lactose content is split into two sugars which are easy for the body to assimilate, glucose and galactose. A similar treatment is carried out to remove all lactose content from milk.
Animal product alternatives to cows’ milk
Besides cows’ milk, it is also possible to find other animal products such as buffalo milk, goat’s milk and sheep’s milk. Their particular advantage is the higher nutritional value, which makes them suitable for various different dietary needs.
Non-dairy vegetable-based drinks
We have already talked about these in our article dedicated to how to foam milk: on the market there are currently many vegetable-based products which can be used to substitute milk in the case of allergies or intolerances. Among the more well-known products are, rice milk, spelt milk, almond milk, soya milk and oat milk. Less well-known and widespread are the drinks obtained from millet, kamut, coconut, hemp and peanuts.
Were you familiar with the characteristics of the different types of milk on the market?