Got Spoiled Milk? Here’s 4 Ways To Repurpose It

Words: Crush

Spoiled milk is a common and often disgusting dilemma we’ve all encountered at some point, but there’s no use in crying over it. Whether it’s a forgotten carton pushed to the back of the fridge or a surplus of milk nearing its expiration date, spoiled milk can pose a culinary conundrum. Before chucking it in the bin, it’s worth considering if and how spoiled milk can be repurposed – milk it for what it’s worth!

repurpose spoiled milk

When your milk is slightly spoiled, but not all the way bad, this is when you can consider repurposing it…

Don’t Toss It Just Yet

This is not an invitation to chug a bad batch of curdled milk. Before embarking on any culinary exploration (no matter how strong your gut may be), it’s important to distinguish between spoiled milk and intentionally soured milk products. Sour milk products, such as Amasi (popular in South Africa) or commercially available buttermilk, undergo controlled fermentation processes that result in a tangy flavour and increased acidity.

On the other hand, spoiled milk refers to milk that has undergone undesirable changes due to bacterial growth, typically after its expiration date. Spoiled milk may exhibit off-putting properties, like an unpleasant sourness, rancidity and curdling.

While commercial milk is pasteurised and can remain shelf-stable for long periods, there’s always the risk of spoilage. Once the bottle or carton is opened or the expiry date has passed, there’s always the risk of it going ‘bad’ since bacteria is introduced when it makes contact with the air. Certain bacteria produce lactic acid as a byproduct, which promotes coagulation (curdling) and lowers the pH of the milk, making it more acidic.


How To Tell If Your Spoiled Milk Is Bad

That being said, there is a sweet-spot window when your milk is slightly spoiled, but not all the way bad – this is when you can consider repurposing it if you want to avoid wasting food and make the most of your slightly ‘off’ milk.

If it looks like straight-up cottage cheese, forget about making pancakes or scones. The best way to test your milk is by giving it a sniff. If it’s really rancid, you’ll be able to tell right away, but if the smell is bearable and the taste is somewhat regular with a hint of sourness, then you might want to consider repurposing it.

repurpose spoiled milk

Drinking spoiled milk is never a good idea; it’s alright to taste a tiny amount when testing the quality of milk that’s near its expiration date, but drinking it by the glass is ill-advised. It is, however, alright to use it in certain foods that might benefit from its slightly fermented properties. A better, less risky method is to pour a small amount of milk into a cup and heat it in the microwave; if the milk curdles, then it is definitely spoiled. Another way to tell if it has gone bad is to look at the bottle; if the exterior is bulging or swollen then that means it is probably ‘bad’.

Again, if completely rancid, avoid drinking or incorporating it into food, unless you want a bad case of food poisoning. Visible signs of spoilage like coagulation, water separating from the hardened milk, and a yellow tinge and pungent smell should be a strong indication that the milk has turned and there’s no coming back.


Ways To Repurpose Spoiled Milk

If your milk is slightly spoiled, then milk it for what it’s worth with these potential uses.

repurpose spoiled milk

Cheese Making

Spoiled milk can be used as a base for homemade cheese production. By adding acid or rennet to spoiled milk and heating it gently, you can separate the curds from the whey, resulting in fresh cheese varieties like paneer or ricotta. These cheeses can then be incorporated into a variety of savoury and sweet dishes, from lasagna and salads to cheesecakes and pastries.

Baking

In baking, slightly spoiled milk can act as a substitute for buttermilk, providing acidity to activate the baking soda and create a tender crumb in cakes, muffins, and quick bread. The tangy flavour of the milk can also complement the sweetness of baked goods, adding depth and complexity to recipes. It can be used to make muffins, scones, flapjacks and crêpes, lending them a delightful buttermilk-like flavour.

Marinating Meat

Buttermilk is often used to marinate chicken and tougher cuts of meat; the acidity of buttermilk helps soften the meat; likewise, slightly spoiled milk has similar properties, which could give the meat a tender texture. It can also be used to batter chicken or fish.

Household Uses

Outside of the kitchen, spoiled milk can find utility in various household applications. For example, it can be used as a natural fertiliser for plants, providing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to support healthy growth. Additionally, spoiled milk can be used as a gentle exfoliant in skincare routines, thanks to its lactic acid content, which helps to slough away dead skin cells and promote a brighter complexion. If the smell is off-putting, add a couple of essential oil drops to the milk to mask it.

Stumbling upon spoiled milk in your fridge might seem like a of waste of money, but if it still has some use, yesterday’s spoiled milk could be today’s pancakes.

*Disclaimer: Consuming spoiled milk could pose significant health risks due to bacterial contamination, which can lead to food poisoning. Therefore, it’s crucial to exercise caution.

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