A cold glass of milk with dinner used to be a staple. Now, there’s usually a fight in the household over how much fat content is preferable. Then there are those that prefer alternative milk sources. Milk is a common beverage for a reason and there are now multiple ways to enjoy its taste.
How many types of milk are there?
Defining milk is no longer an easy option. There are many types of cow’s milk and there are more and more plant-based milk alternatives. On the whole, there are between 20 and 30 common types of milk.
18 Popular Types of Milk
When it comes to animals, cows lead the pack in milk production. However, goats are by far the second most popular.
Goat milk is a nice alternative for those that want milk from an animal, but are also lactose-intolerant. Not only does goat milk not contain lactose, but it is also high in vitamins and nutrients.
You can use goat milk the same way as you would use cow’s milk.
Skimmed Milk (Fat-Free Milk)
As its name suggests, skimmed milk has no fat in it. A special process is used to separate the cream from the milk.
Skimmed milk is quite thin and almost watery in texture. However, it does still have a milky taste.
Because of its consistency, skimmed milk is not usually used in baking. It is consumed by those who like the taste, or those who are a diet.
There are some contentious opinions around the safety of raw milk. While all milk that is sold in a supermarket has to be pasteurized, or heated to a specific temperature to kill any bacteria, raw milk does not undergo this process.
There are some people that will only drink raw milk; however government health guidelines do not recommend the practice.
Raw milk can come from a variety of animals, including cows, goats, buffalo, and sheep.
Organic milk comes from cows that have been fed a special, organic diet.
These cows haven’t been exposed to any hormones or antibiotics. Furthermore, no pesticides or fertilizers have been used on their food.
Within the category of organic milk are different milk fat types, although it can be hard to find all of the standard ranges that regular milk comes in.
Organic milk can be consumed as a stand in for wherever regular milk is used.
Sweetened Condensed Milk
To achieve sweetened condensed milk, regular milk is slowly heated over low heat so that water is removed. Then, sugar is added.
The result is a very thick, very sweet product that shares very few similarities with its original milk form.
Sweetened condensed milk is often used to make desserts and beverages.
Similar to soy milk, almond milk is an extremely popular alternative to cow’s milk. It is made by grinding toasted almonds with water.
Almond milk has a slightly nutty taste to it and a thick texture. It is rich in many vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, calcium, protein, and Vitamin E.
Almond milk is a great option for those that are lactose-intolerant or who are looking for a very low-fat option.
Whole milk is a full-fat milk, with about 3.25 to 3.5% fat content. It is quite rich and has a creamy consistency.
This version of milk is about as close to drinking raw cow’s milk as you will get. Although it has been pasteurized, it is a quite pure version.
Whole milk can be enjoyed on its own but its creamy consistency makes it a favorite to pair with oatmeal. It has 8 grams of fat and 150 calories per serving.
Soy milk was once of the original cow’s milk alternative to be manufactured. It is created by drying soybeans and then grounding them up and adding them to water.
The result is a thicker version of milk that is naturally sweeter. It is a common substitute to cow’s milk and is enjoyed by people who both love the taste, and who are lactose-intolerant.
Coconuts are quite the versatile food and it makes sense that this giant seed can also produce milk. Coconut milk comes from the inner white flesh which is then mixed with water.
It has a very thick texture that has a creamy, nutty taste. Furthermore, it is high in essential nutrients such as fiber and calcium.
Coconut milk can be consumed on its own but it is usually used in recipes such as curries and stir-fries.
People that are lactose-intolerant can’t consume dairy products because the lactose found in these foods isn’t properly broken down by the body. However, lactose-free milk is a sound option because the lactose is removed from the milk.
To do so, lactase is added to milk, which breaks down the naturally-occurring lactose. Thankfully, this doesn’t affect the taste or texture.
While it does come at a premium price, lactose-free milk can be used as substitute for regular milk.
While it isn’t very popular in North America, buffalo milk is enjoyed in many regions in Asia. It has a very high fat content which is often off-putting for North Americans and their health-conscious diets.
However, there are a lot of nutrients in buffalo milk. These include calcium, iron, and Vitamin A.
Buffalo milk can be enjoyed on its own or used in cooking.
Rice milk is a great option for anyone suffering from allergies. It is made by mixing boiled brown rice, brown rice starch, and brown rice syrup.
The result is a sweet mixture with a creamy texture. However, while cow’s milk and other alternatives have plenty of naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals, rice milk doesn’t have a lot of nutritional benefits.
You can use rice milk as a substitute for drinking cow’s milk but it doesn’t always work when used in baking.
There is now no shortage of plant-based milk alternatives, and hemp milk is among them. It is created by crushing hemp seeds and then soaking them in water.
Hemp milk has a lot of nutrients in it, including iron, calcium, and protein. It has a creamy texture and a nutty taste.
While the hemp plant can produce marijuana, hemp seeds do not contain any HTC and so it is perfectly edible.
Every child’s favorite, flavored milk usually combines chocolate or strawberry flavoring to regular cow’s milk.
Flavored milk retains the natural vitamins and minerals of cow’s milk, including Vitamin D and calcium. However, it also has more sugar added to make it sweeter.
Flavored milk can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet but its sugar content should be remembered.
While evaporated milk isn’t in powdered form, it does have 60% of its water content removed. Evaporated milk is normally sold in cans and has a very long shelf life.
To have its water content removed, milk is slowly heated over low heat. It then has a thicker consistency that is also sweeter.
Evaporated milk is normally used in baking or as a substitute for cream.
Oat milk is another nutritious alternative to cow’s milk. It is made by blending oats and water and then straining the final product.
As a result, oat milk can be quite thin. However, it retains all the nutrients found in oats, including fiber and beta-glucans.
Oat milk is often used to make pancakes or to flavor coffee.
Low-fat milk is often referred to by its milk fat percentage, which is 1%. This is not to be confused with reduced-fat milk, which has a fat percentage of 2%.
Thinner in taste and consistency than full-fat milk, it is still a nice in-between for those that can’t commit to skim milk, which has a 0% fat content.
Low-fat milk is often enjoyed on its own. It can also be used in all manner of baking and cooking and is a nice alternative for those on a diet.
Unlike what its name suggests, buttermilk doesn’t actually have any butter in it. Furthermore, it isn’t very fatty.
Instead, buttermilk has bacteria added to it and is then left to ferment. Once complete, buttermilk has a tangy taste and a thick consistency.
Buttermilk is often used in baking. And, if you don’t have any on hand, you can actually add vinegar to milk for similar results.
Which is the best type of milk?
The best type of milk is entirely dependent on your needs. If you like a thick, creamy drink, then whole milk is a nice option. If you are on a diet, then skimmed milk is the better option.
For those that suffer from allergies or are lactose-intolerant, then plant-based alternatives like almond milk and oat milk are great choices.
The milk we drink used to come almost exclusively from cows. Now, not only are there many cow’s milk varieties, but there are also many plant-based alternatives.
Whatever your tastes or dietary restrictions are, there is a form of milk to enjoy.