Milk is a liquid that you can drink. All newly born mammals drink milk from their mother and feed on it. So the baby sucks, and the mother suckles.
The mother’s body has a special organ in which milk is produced. In women, we call it breasts. In the animals with hooves, it is the udder, in the other animals, it is the teats. What the little animals put in their mouths are the teats.
Anyone who talks about milk or buys milk here usually means cow’s milk. But there is also milk from sheep, goats, and horse mares. Other countries use the milk of camels, yaks, water buffalo, and many other animals. The milk our babies drink from their mothers is called breast milk.
Milk is a good thirst quencher. A liter of milk contains about nine deciliters of water. The remaining deciliter is divided into three parts that nourish us well and are each about the same size: The fat is the cream from which you can make butter, whipped cream, or ice cream. The protein is used to make cheese and yogurt. Most of the lactose remains in the liquid. Then there is the mineral calcium, which is very important for building our bones, and various vitamins.
Milk is important for our agriculture. People today need a lot of milk and milk products. Only grass can grow on steep fields, as well as on mountain pastures. Cows like to eat a lot of grass. They were bred to give as much milk as possible and are given special feed such as corn, wheat, and other grains.
However, there are also people whose bodies do not handle milk well. For example, they have a milk protein intolerance. Many people in Asia cannot tolerate milk at all once they are adults. They drink soy milk, which is a type of milk made from soybeans. Also made from a kind of milk made from coconuts, rice, oats, almonds, and some other plants.
Are there different kinds of milk?
Milk differs most according to the animal from which it comes. The differences lie in the proportion of water, fat, protein, and lactose. If you compare the milk of cows, sheep, goats, horses, and humans, then at first glance the differences are small. Still, you can’t just feed animal milk to a baby whose mother doesn’t have milk. She couldn’t take it. There is therefore special baby milk that people put together from various parts.
The differences become large when you compare them to other animals. The milk of the whales is the most striking: It contains about ten times as much fat and protein as cow’s milk. It consists of only about half water. As a result, young whales grow extremely quickly.
Can you buy different cow’s milk?
The milk itself is always the same. However, it depends on how the person treated them before selling them. In any case, one thing is clear: milk must be cooled immediately after milking so that no germs can multiply in it. On some farms, you can bottle freshly milked and chilled milk yourself, pay for it, and take it with you.
In the shop, you buy the milk in a package. It is written on it whether the milk still contains all the fat or whether part of it has been removed. It depends on whether it is whole milk, low-fat milk, or skimmed milk.
It also depends on how high the milk was heated. Depending on how long it lasts, some of the vitamins are lost. After the strongest treatment, the milk will keep for about two months in a sealed bag without having to refrigerate it.
Specially treated milk is available for people who have problems with lactose. The lactose is broken down into simpler sugars to make it more digestible. Milk sugar is called “lactose” in technical jargon. The corresponding milk is labeled as “lactose-free milk”.