Have you ever wondered what skim milk is and how it’s made?
With so many types of milk available it’s easy to be overwhelmed by it all!
I’m here today to tell you more about skim milk: how it’s made, if it’s healthy, what it’s benefits are and more.
So let’s dig in!
In this article I will discuss:
What is skim milk?
Skim milk is milk from which most of the cream was removed. The cream contains almost all the fat in milk, therefore skim milk is also known as fat-free milk.
In any supermarket you will find heaps of different kinds of milk, including soy milk, dairy milk, almond milk etc.
In the dairy milk category, you will find mainly 4 different kinds of milk: Full fat milk, reduced fat milk, low fat milk and fat free milk.
There are other milk types like lactose free milk, organic milk and raw milk, but more on those in another article.
These 4 main milk types are categorized according to the amount of fat in the milk.
Full cream, also called whole milk or full fat milk, contains an average of 3.5% fat and not less than 3.2% fat.
Reduced fat milk contains an average of 2% fat.
Low fat milk contains an average of 1% fat.
Skimmed milk, also called fat free or nonfat milk, contains less than 0.5% fat.
How is skim milk made?
Skim milk is made by removing most of the cream (and therefore fat) through a process called centrifugation. Centrifugation is a mechanical process mimicking gravity, but just much stronger.
The machine that does the centrifugation is called a centrifugal separator.
Before this technology, milk and cream was separated by gravity.
Over time the cream would rise to the top of the milk.
If you remove this cream, you are left with milk with a much lower fat content.
As technology evolved, machines were developed that spun around a liquid in a way that artificially creates a type of “gravity”, called a centrifugal force.
This centrifugal force is the same force that you experience on a merry go round that makes you want to fly outwards.
This force is much stronger than normal gravity and causes the milk and cream to separate much quicker.
Furthermore, there are certain laws that require skim milk to be fortified with Vit A and D.
These Vitamins are fat soluble and thus mostly present in the cream, and these get lost when the cream is removed through the milk skimming process.
Skimmed milk is also fortified with proteins in the form of milk solids to thicken up the watery consistency.
Is skim milk healthy?
Yes, skim milk is healthy. It contains a heap of nutrients including Vit A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B12 and D, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium, amongst others.
In fact, skim milk contains as much minerals as full cream milk with the exception of copper!
Unless you are lactose intolerant, skim milk is a good choice of milk if you are worried about the fat in milk without losing too much of the other micronutrients.
Macronutrient levels, like that of protein, are different.
There’s a big debate going on about how healthy milk fats are, with the saturated-vs-unsaturated-fat subject at the center of it all.
Although skim milk is also known as fat free milk, is does contain about 0.2 grams of fat per cup.
What are the benefits of skim milk?
Consuming and using skim milk has a heap of benefits, from being loaded with nutrients like vitamins, minerals and proteins, to its high water content and the reduced levels of fat.
If you are watching your weight and conscious of what you are eating, skim milk would be the better alternative of all the milks since it contains about half the calories of full cream milk.
It still has a heap of beneficial nutrients without most of the fat.
If, however, you are on a high fat diet, you’d be better off going for the full fat/full cream milk.
Can you cook with skim milk?
Yes you can, and there are certain instances like milk frothing where skim milk would work even better. However, in most cases when you substitute full fat milk with skim milk, your dish would lack some richness.
You can counter this, though, in recipes calling for full cream milk.
Just reduce the amount of milk required by a few teaspoons and add some butter.
That defies the whole point of using skim milk in the first place, because you will just replace the fat and you could just use full fat milk instead.
There are some great recipes that require specifically skim milk.
Try one of these ones from Serious Eats that include blueberry muffins and sweet potato pie.
When it comes to baking, fat in milk is responsible for moisturizing and tenderizing your baked goods.
The effect of more fat in baked foods like muffins is that it has a finer crumb and are moister.
Baking Bites has a great article on this subject.
Can skim milk go bad?
Yes, just like any other milk, skim milk can spoil. The same cold resistant bacteria that causes full fat milk to spoil, are present in the other milk types as well.
Studies aimed at trying to find out which milk between skim and full fat spoil quicker, have been inconclusive.
There is no consensus among dairy scientists as well.
Some say full fat milk will last longer due to the free fatty acids acting as preservatives, while others say that certain bacteria prefer fatty mediums to grow in and skim milk lacks that, so skim milk should last longer.
The fact of the matter is that skim milk can spoil, like full fat and reduced fat milk, and almost at the same rate.
Skim milk is a healthy alternative if you are worried about carbs and fats, without compromising on other nutrients.
It may be more watery in consistency but you get used to it.
Personally, I would just use full fat milk.
I love the rich consistency and creaminess, you can use it in recipes without worrying about the reduced fat content, and at the end of the day you choose between a fat content of 3.5 % and 0.5 % in skim milk, which isn’t a lot.