Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What milk was that?

I got to thinking about ‘milk’ after my post of yesterday. I have always had a vague objection to the concept of soy milk in the context in which it is often promoted, because it is hardly ‘natural’. Mammals produce milk, plants definitely do not. The only way to make ‘milk’ out of beans is by a heck of a lot of processing. And anyway, it tastes awful.

Strangely, I don’t have any objection to the concept of almond milk – but then no-one seriously considers it as a nutritional alternative to real (mammalian) milk. Its milkiness is useful for those who eschew animal products (faithful Christians during Lent, and vegans all the time, for example.) And it tastes great.

It seems to me that the non-mammalian milks for which recipes can be found fall into two categories. Firstly, those such as almond milk and soy milk which are used as ‘real’ milk substitutes. Secondly, beverages which the inventor wishes to associate with a particular mammalian characteristic such as strength or power.

In the first category are a number of ‘imitation’ milks, such as artificial asses’ milk and mare’s milk, which we have touched upon in a previous post. These are often intended for medicinal purposes – asses’ milk for example was considered closest to human milk, so suitable for infants or the indisposed, but rarely available, so a mock version was made.

In the second category are a variety of alcoholic ‘cordials’ (the word originally meaning restorative beverages). I give you a couple of examples from one of our recent sources - Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, by William Terrington, 1869. Note that the version of Asses’ Milk that appears below is not suitable for babies, but is probably so named because excessive consumption would cause one to behave like an ass.

Elephant’s Milk.
To 1 oz. of benzoin gum, dissolved in 1 pint of spirits of wine, add 1 lb. of sugar, dissolved in 1 quart of boiling water.

Asses’ Milk.
½ gill of rum; bottle of aerated lemonade.

Quotation for the Day.
Things are never what they seem,
Skim milk masquerades as cream.
H.M.S. Pinafore, W.S.Gilbert


Cape Coop said...

I adore almond milk, and I enjoy it as a mock egg nog with nutmeg at bed time, but it is so frustrating that when I add rum to it the 'milk' curdles! Why is that, and what is the fix? A girl needs to know these things!

Marg said...

I have just found your blog, and have really enjoyed reading your posts.
Moose milk is a Canadian invention, which involves lots of alcohol and cream or ice cream depending on the recipe. Unfortunately it is seriously delicious and is very easy to drink.

Foodist said...

Maybe you can tell me what is hardly naturell with making soymilk?

Making soymilk is soaking the beans, mashing and cooking them, than separating pulp and milk.

Because than baking bread, curing meat and making buttermilk or yoghurt would also be hardly naturell.

So making bread would be more unnatural than making soymilk..which is made by asian people since thousand of years.

Please clarify what is unnatural by making soymilk?

The heck of processing bread is much more than that of making soy milk if you start by making bread by grinding the grains.

But yes, there are some awful soymilk, produced by non-asian people/factorys who do not know how to properly care for the beans.

Also the common used soybean in the USA is different to the one used in asian countries to make soymilk.

It would be like using bitter almonds for making almond milk..so is it the fault of the almond that the milk tastes bitter?

Asian people use three or more different beans for making soymilk like other people would blend 3 or 4 different teas or coffee beans to get the perfect blend.

If you once taste the perfectly fresh made soy milk, sometimes tinted a slight green, yellow or pink colour by the beans, you would never say such a thing.

Especially the small tofu kitchens, owned by the family since generations, which one can still find even in the big cities, are worth a try.

So if someone next time ruins the bread for you, do not search the fault in the grains when it lays with the baker, thanks.

You also can send an answer at Morrigayne@web.de

Anonymous said...

@cape coop

The rum is working like acid, so the proteins clump together through denaturating.

Same with dropping lemon juice into milk or dropping clear egg white into hot water which denaturates it and turns it into white flakes.

Try to add the rum while mixing the milk, but only add the rum in a thin stream like one would do while making mayonaisse and adding the oil into the yolk.

You can not really fix it..also milk would curdle, but with a bit of luck the clumped protein can be mixed up enough so they still float in the liquid

The Old Foodie said...

Foodist: I use and drink soy milk,and have great respect for its historical and cultural origins, so let us get that clear. 'Milk" however, is produced by mammals to feed their young. No plants 'naturally' produce milk. Soy 'milk' is a highly processed product,as you indicate yourself. That is all I meant by my comment.