Sour milk is one of those things that no one wants to drink — and for good reason. After all, it smells awful and tastes terrible on its own. But when we heard some chefs say that sour milk can be used for cooking and baking, we couldn’t help but be intrigued.
In an interview with NPR, Dana Gunders of the Natural Resources Defense Council listed some of the best ways to cook with sour milk. While this might seem a bit, well, icky to many of us, she insists that we don’t have to toss out milk just because it’s gone bad. Considering Gunders is the author of Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook: A Guide to Eating Well and Saving Money by Wasting Less Food ($12.88, Amazon), it’s not shocking that she’d want to make use of as many kitchen ingredients as she possibly could before throwing them away. And in regard to cooking with sour milk, she does make a pretty compelling case.
“Actually, cooking with sour milk is delicious,” Gunders said. “It’s a substitute for buttermilk. You can [use it] in pancake or biscuit batter. And you can't taste the sour! I've pushed it, and let the milk get really old. The pancakes turned out fluffy, and really good.” If you're interested in trying Gunders' pancake recipe with sour milk, you can find it here.
Of course, it’s worth noting that there are a couple of caveats to cooking with sour milk. For instance, the milk must be pasteurized. That way, the milk's environment is “unfriendly to microbes that might cause illness," according to Gunders. In other words, cooking with sour pasteurized milk is unlikely to make you sick. Raw milk, on the other hand, is something you definitely don’t want to mess with if it’s gone sour. Also, you don’t want to consume any milk that has mold in it.
But if the sour milk is in fact pasteurized and mold-free, it can be part of any pancake recipe — as well as a key ingredient to several other baked goods. For instance, Chef Tom Hunt wrote in a recent article for The Guardian that it can be used in foods such as cakes, scones, and Irish soda bread.
Hunt writes, “Soured milk makes the perfect soda bread, or farl, because its natural acidity reacts with the bicarb and helps it rise.”
If you’re still feeling uneasy about cooking or baking with milk that has gone sour, you do have the option of replicating the experience with milk that hasn't expired. According to ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen, all you need is one tablespoon of vinegar per cup of milk — and voila, DIY sour milk!