Milk is a liquid from the mammary glands of female mammals. It is produced in the body of the female mammal, for a period of time following the birth of young ones. Females producing milk are said to be lactating.
New born mammals are unable to fend for themselves and their digestive systems need time to develop before they can digest the food natural to the adult of their species. In the meantime they survive on the milk produced by their mothers. Mother’s milk is a complete food for kids, cubs, pups, kits, and calves. No other nutrition is necessary in the early weeks/months following their birth.
Milk, aside from being an essential dietary component for human children after they are no longer dependent on their mother’s milk, is a primary food source all humans. The fresh fluid, as well as the dairy products processed from milk, is among the core ingredients of cuisines across the globe.
Milk is basically an emulsion of fat and protein in water .It contains dissolved sugars, vitamins and minerals. The proportion of fat, protein, sugar, vitamins and minerals varies among individuals as well as from species to species.
Human beings have been supplementing their diets with milk for thousands of years. Depending on the region milk from the cow, water buffalo, camel, sheep, goat or yak is harvested to be drunk fresh or processed into a variety of foods.
Milk is considered a good food as it has high nutritional value. The protein in milk contains all the essential amino acids. The calcium and phosphorous needed for healthy teeth and bones is contained in milk. In addition milk contains vitamin B C and D. However there is no iron present in milk.
Milk contains various microorganisms that make it curdle easily. Microorganisms from the air also cause milk to spoil. Milk is therefore kept chilled or vacuum packed. As the animals that provide the milk sometimes have diseases that can be communicated to humans, notably TB, many countries insist on milk being pasteurised.
Milk fat is less dense than the other components and it floats to the top, making it easy to separate. This is cream the delicious addition to desserts and main dishes.
Soy milk comes from plants. Soybeans have been cultivated in China since the third century BCE. It is considered one of the sacred grains of China, along with rice, wheat, millet and barley.
Soybeans that produce good soy milk are especially cultivated, usually organically. After harvesting and de husking the beans are boiled, ground and pressed. This produced a milky fluid known as soy milk.
Soy milk is a very good substitute for animal milk. It has higher protein content, is low fat, has lower sodium content and is cholesterol free. In addition it contains iron.
On the flip side soy milk does not contain calcium and if children are drinking it a calcium supplement is necessary.
Some children cannot digest the lactose present in milk. Soy milk is lactose free making it a boon to lactose intolerant children and adults.
Soy milk can be used as a substitute for milk in all recipes.
Milk can be curdled to make curd and soy milk that has been curdled to make tofu.
Soybean contains an enzyme that is indigestible by humans. This needs to be inactivated by boiling. The by- product of soy milk is okara that until recently was an environmental hazard. It is now being dried to produce high fibre high protein organic feed for cattle.