Soured milk is a food product, produced from the acidification of milk. It is not the same as spoiled milk that has gone bad (commonly but incorrectly called soured) naturally and which may contain toxins. Acidification, which gives the milk a tart taste, is achieved either through the addition of an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, or through bacterial fermentation. The acid causes milk to coagulate and form a thicker consistency, and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and thus improves its shelf life. Soured milk that is produced by bacterial fermentation is more specifically called fermented milk or cultured milk. Soured milk that is produced by the addition of an acid, with or without the addition of microbial organisms, is more specifically called acidified milk. In the United States, acids used to manufacture acidified milk include acetic acid (commonly found in vinegar), adipic acid, citric acid (commonly found in lemon juice), fumaric acid, glucono-delta-lactone, hydrochloric acid, lactic acid, malic acid, phosphoric acid, succinic acid, and tartaric acid.
Soured milk is commonly made at home or is sold and consumed in Europe, especially in Eastern Europe (Belarus, Poland, Russia, Ukraine), Germany, and Scandinavia. Since the 1970s, some producers have used chemical acidification in place of biological agents.
Sour/Soured milk in recipes
In recipes, "sour milk" or "soured milk" may refer to bacterially fermented milk or chemically acidified milk, but the types can often be used interchangeably. One should not use milk that has naturally soured because this may contain toxins. The product known as buttermilk, originally a sour milk byproduct in the manufacture of butter but nowadays often produced directly as a form of soured milk either with or without the addition of butter, is sometimes listed as an ingredient. If buttermilk is not available, acidified milk may be substituted. For example, 1 cup of cultured buttermilk can be replaced by 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup. The chemically soured milk can be used after standing for 5 minutes.
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