Sour milk; a sweet consequence to enjoy

Published 12:12 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You know what they say:  If you end up with a lemon, make lemonade. Well, if you end up with sour milk, make muffins – or cake – or doughnuts – or biscuits – or waffles – the list goes on.

Nobody likes to drag milk from the refrigerator to find it’s sour. Perhaps you tasted it, but the odor should clue you in that it’s over the hill. It happens to the best of us. I’m always in a quandary as to whether to buy a gallon or half-gallon of milk — with just the two of us, we don’t use as much as we used to when we had kids at home. But if I buy a half-gallon, I’m apt to run out before my next shopping day. Oh, wow!

Right now, I have a couple month’s worth of a variety of muffins in my freezer that have used up the milk that soured on me last week.

Of course, the smart shopper checks the date on the milk container to assure getting the freshest, but even that doesn’t mean it won’t sour before you use it all.

You may recall my Aunt Helen’s chocolate-cake recipe that uses sour milk, but better for my husband and me are muffins, another way to use sour milk. If you didn’t know, in just about any recipe that calls for buttermilk, you may substitute sour milk. So, for heaven’s sake, don’t throw out the sour milk.

So let’s make oatmeal muffins. First a word about the oatmeal (rolled oats) you use. If you use quick oats, the sour milk and the oatmeal need to soak just a few minutes, but if you favor old-fashioned oats, which make a hearty muffin, you need to let the sour milk and oats soak for at least half an hour.

Oatmeal Muffins

1 C rolled oats
1 C sour milk (pour the milk over the oats, stir. Let sit while gathering the other ingredients.)
1/3 C shortening (part butter)
1/2 C light brown sugar
1 egg (add to the oat mixture and stir in well.)
1 C plain flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Add to the batter and stir well.

Spoon batter into 12 muffin cups using paper liners or spray the cups with a nonstick product. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot.

If pancakes are your thing, here’s a sour-milk recipe that’ll titillate your tastebuds. However, it is a bit more complicated than just plain pancakes, which also are good. The only name I know for these pancakes is fluffy pancakes.

Fluffy Pancakes

3 egg yolks, beaten
1 2/3 C sour milk
1 tsp. baking soda
Beat into egg yolks
1 1/2 C plain flour
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Beat into egg mixture
3 tbsp. soft butter
Add to batter
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten
Fold gently into batter

Spoon small or large pancakes onto a skillet or griddle (We have a new electric one we use at the table – one that tells us exactly when the temperature is just right for pancakes). Many skillets do not require greasing, but I like my pancakes cooked in a bit of Crisco. If you’re still a pancake novice, the pancakes are ready to be turned when they puff up and the top is full of bubbles. The pancakes are ready for eating when you touch the tops and they spring back.

If you’re as fortunate as I, you’ll pour real maple syrup over your pancakes. My cousin in Connecticut, who taps the sugar maple trees and boils down the sap to make maple syrup, sends me a gallon or a half-gallon (depends how good the season is) every year.

So if your milk sours, enjoy!

Polly Unterzuber may be reached by email at