FoodSour milk resurgence: A centuries-old tradition with modern benefits

Sour milk resurgence: A centuries-old tradition with modern benefits

It is better not to forget about this delicacy.
It is better not to forget about this delicacy.
Images source: © Adobe Stock

20 June 2024 18:18

It has a refreshing, sour taste, a distinctive texture, and impressive nutritional value. It is also an essential element of our culinary tradition, as it has been a staple on tables for centuries, both as a nutritious drink and an ingredient in many dishes. Sour milk can be bought in stores, but we can also easily prepare it ourselves.

Sour milk, or clabbered milk, is a traditional product valued in various culinary cultures. From time immemorial, it has been enjoyed by residents of the Balkans, Scandinavia, and Central Europe, as well as tribes in Southern Africa.

Fermentation of milk as a method of extending its shelf life has been known to humans for 10,000, perhaps even 15,000 years. It dates back to when our ancestors transitioned from gathering and hunting to farming and raising cows, sheep, goats, or camels. People quickly discovered that raw milk, not stored in a cool place, undergoes natural souring, preventing it from spoiling rapidly while giving it a unique taste and nutritional properties.

Sour milk can be bought in stores, but you should check its ingredients: milk and lactic acid bacteria cultures. However, many believe such products do not have the taste remembered from grandma’s kitchen. Fortunately, we can also make sour milk ourselves.

Sour milk – nutritional values

"Drink sour milk, and you will live long," an old Hindu saying goes, and it is not an exaggeration. Sour milk has impressive nutritional qualities. Like all fermented beverages, it is digested several times faster than raw milk. It contains high-quality protein with a balanced amino acid composition, essential for building and regenerating tissues.

Sour milk is rich in easily absorbable calcium – the primary building block of bones and teeth, a microelement necessary for adequately functioning cells, involved in metabolism, muscle contraction, and blood clotting. The product also provides a substantial dose of magnesium and phosphorus.

Sour milk is also a rich source of B vitamins, including B12, which improves mood, increases resistance to stress, and helps the brain function properly. The activity of the bacteria responsible for fermentation means that it contains significantly more folic acid than fresh milk, which is particularly needed by pregnant women. Folic acid is essential for the proper development of the fetus's nervous system; its deficiency in expectant mothers is considered a leading cause of spina bifida in children and other neural tube defects.

Soured milk is easy to digest and can be consumed by lactose-intolerant individuals. It helps reduce "bad" cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of ulcers, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. It prevents diarrhoea, bloating, and constipation. As one of the most potent natural probiotics, it effectively restores the balance of the body's bacterial flora disrupted by poor nutrition, illness, or antibiotic therapy.

soured milk
soured milk© Getty Images | Marie_ange

How to make sour milk

Preparing sour milk is not difficult if you get good-quality milk. It is best to use whole, raw, unpasteurized, and unsterilized milk, meaning "straight from the cow." Of course, you must be sure that it comes from a reliable source, so it is better not to buy milk from a random vendor at the market, as it may be contaminated or contain harmful microorganisms.

You cannot make sour milk from the most popular UHT milk sold in stores, which is sterilized at very high temperatures. Instead of souring, UHT milk undergoes peptonization, breaking down its protein fraction and causing it to become bitter.

Once you have good milk (about 1 litre), pour it into a saucepan and heat it over low heat until it reaches a temperature of about 40°C. Do not let it boil. Then let it cool slightly, and pour it into a sterilised jar. Add natural yoghurt or sour cream with live bacteria cultures (about 2 tablespoons). Gently but thoroughly mix it, cover it with gauze (bacteria need a bit of air for fermentation), and place it in a warm but not sunny spot.

The fermentation process can take 12 to even 48 hours. During this time, do not shake the container. It is ready when the milk reaches a jelly-like consistency and a pleasantly sour taste. Store it in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for 2 days.

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