What “percent milk” do you drink? I like the question phrased in this manner as, in a humorous sense, it might be taken as a reference to the degree of the milk’s genuineness. One might respond, “I drink real milk.” Another might respond, “I drink half milk.” Yet another might respond, “I drink milk colored water.” But that’s a joke, nothing more. The percentage number refers to overall butterfat content.
Exactly what is meant by the percentage designations on cartons in the store?
The percentage designations refer to what percent of the total amount of milk consists of fat. So, 2 % milk contains two percent butterfat. One percent milk contains 1% fat. Some folk think that 2% is roughly 50 times lower in fat content than whole milk and 1% contains only one one hundredth the amount of butterfat as whole milk. But that’s not true. Percentage of butterfat in milk is just what percent of the milk is made up of butterfat. It does not refer to what percentage of the overall butterfat has been removed or remains.
So one might label whole milk in the store with 3% and be truthful about it.
Commercially available whole milk generally contains around 3.25% butterfat.
What Percentage Butterfat Milk is Best?
I’ll try not to step on that “landmine.” I’m not really qualified to make a recommendation. I would point out that the actual amount of fat found in 2% vs. whole milk is not that great. If you drink and enjoy milk because of its creamy texture, then whole milk is probably the way to go. If you’re struggling with your weight and cutting calories, then, I suppose 1% or 2% might be better. Personally, when I drink milk, I value the texture which comes with being whole. I believe I’ll drink my milk whole, but drink it in moderation. For quenching thirst water is really good, and it contains no calories.
What About Milk Produced on the Homestead?
Butterfat content of milk varies from species to species, and within species, from breed to breed and individual to individual. Cow milk can be as low as 3% and as high as 7%. Dairy goat breeds vary between 3% and 4% butterfat content. Whether the milk is pasteurized or homogenized doesn’t affect the fat content. I would mention that goat milk is naturally homogenized, meaning the cream separates much more slowly than in cow milk. Whereas with cow milk the cream may rise to the top within hours, the cream in goat milk takes days. If one wants to make cheese, then whole milk is the way to go. The butterfat is a necessary ingredient for cheese.