Before you immerse yourself in this article, please get yourself a glass of milk and some good cookies, or perhaps a dish of your favorite gelato, as this is a quick lesson on all things milk.
The FDA has established standards for different types of milk and milk products. However, it is important to note some states have additional regulations.
The FDA requires that fluid milk has certain percentages of milk fat, categorized as follows:
- Whole milk must have no less than 3.25% milk fat
- Skim milk must have less than 0.5% milk fat
- 2% milk must be labeled as “Reduced Fat”
- 1% milk must be labeled “Low Fat”
Other milk categories are based on the type of processing involved, including:
- Pasteurized milk – heated to kill any potentially harmful bacteria
- Homogenized milk – milk fat particles that are reduced in size and are uniformly blended to prevent them from rising to the top in the form of cream
- Vitamin-fortified milk – contains added vitamins
- Grade A milk – produced under sufficiently sanitary conditions to permit its use as fluid milk (about 90 percent of the milk produced in the United States is Grade A milk)
- Grade B milk – produced under conditions that make it acceptable only for manufactured products, such as certain cheeses, where it undergoes further processing
- Certified milk – produced under exceedingly high sanitary standards and sold at a higher price than Grade A milk
Note: Most types of milk sold in the United States are pasteurized, homogenized and vitamin-fortified.
How to Understand the Role of Milk in the Production of Gelato
Milk is composed of milk fat (butterfat), milk solids non-fat (MSNF) and water. Both butterfat and MSNF contribute to the flavor of gelato. A gelato master would explain that butterfat plays a major role in the creaminess and the richness of the gelato – while MSNF (milk proteins) have an indirect affect on the flavor, as they give the gelato nice body and smooth texture. The water in milk is very pure and serves to disperse other ingredients in any solution, while lactose (milk sugar) adds to the sweet taste of gelato.
Health Benefits of Milk
Several studies have shown the numerous health benefits of milk consumption: milk and dairy products provide calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and protein, which are all essential for healthy bones and development. Other studies suggest that the consumption of two portions of dairy each day will help to reduce high blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Milk contains a variety of vitamins:
- Vitamin A – required for good vision, normal growth and development of body tissues
- Vitamin D – plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, essential for healthy bones and teeth
- Vitamin E – helps to prevent damage to the skin
- Vitamin B12 – required for maintenance of healthy nerves, blood cells and energy production
So keep dipping those cookies into your milk as it is essential for both our bodies and delicious, memorable gelato.