Dairy is such an integral part of our family’s healthy eating that we don’t want lockdown to compromise our daily enjoyment of these nutritious and versatile products.
At a time, when we want to look after our health and support our immune systems, dairy in our diets has so much to offer as a unique high-quality protein source with a wide profile of essential micro-nutrients.
Luckily, there are a variety of product solutions and lots of fantastic new hacks, shared by Rediscover Dairy, to help you easily manage, buy, store and use dairy during lockdown.
Best of the Big Freeze Dairy Hacks
The good news is that a wide variety of fresh dairy products freeze very well:
- Yes, fresh milk can be frozen. Make sure that there is some empty space in your airtight container as milk expands when it freezes. Buying fresh milk in 1 litre plastic bags is a great solution if you are going to freeze as they are space-savers. Don’t worry if sometimes the milk separates slightly after defrosting; give it a good shake, it is still safe to consume. #dairyhackfreezefreshmilk in ice-cube trays for delicious homemade ice coffees and ice teas. Goat’s milk also freezes well. Defrost milk in the fridge overnight or in a water bath.
- The same applies to fresh cream and sour cream. Freeze it on the day of purchase so that you have it on hand for the lockdown weeks ahead. You can still enjoy your favourite creamy pasta sauces and desserts; dishes such as chicken a la king and beef stroganoff or toppings for baked potatoes, burritos, enchiladas and tacos – #dairyhackfreezefreshcream (Fresh cream cannot be whipped after it has been frozen.)
- Butter has a naturally long life in the fridge, but many South Africans find they are doing extra baking during lockdown. Stock up on a few extra butters, especially if they are available at a good price, and slip them into spaces in your freezer. Frozen butter can be grated when required in small amounts.
- Cheeses also freeze well. For easy use, you may want to grate hard cheeses and store small amounts in separate freezer bags for up to three months. Some varieties may crumble a bit after defrosting but they are perfectly safe to eat and easy to use in sauces, baked goods or on sandwiches.
- All the joys of frozen yoghurt at home! You don’t have to buy frozen yoghurt at speciality stores. #dairyhackfrozenyoghurt Pop a 6-pack of your kids’ favourite yoghurts in the freezer for healthy lockdown snacks. Push a teaspoon through the foil lid of the yoghurt containers and place it in the freezer until completely frozen. Serve as an ice lolly. You can also involve the whole family in creating your own frozen yoghurt delights by using your own airtight containers or lolly moulds; adding cut up fresh or dried fruit, fruit purees or pulp; nuts, seeds or granola; chocolate chips, pieces or sauces.
Choosing longer life dairy to reduce shopping trips
- Check the sell by and use before dates on the labels of the fresh dairy products before you buy.
- UHT (ultra-high temperature) technology ensures that we can safely keep stock of long life milk (also referred to as box milk) and cream in the pantry for extended times – although once opened, these products should be kept in the fridge and consumed within 4-7 days.
- Milk powder, which is dried milk, dates right back to the1800’s; but today’s version is enjoying a resurgence under lockdown. It’s worth adding milk powder to your shopping list because it offers a far longer shelf life than liquid milk and is economical with pantry space. Always check the ingredients on the label to make sure you are buying 100% cow’s milk. Remember that coffee creamer is not a milk product and also not a substitute for any 100% milk product in a healthy diet. Milk powder should be prepared according to package instructions; thereafter stored in the fridge and used within 4-7 days.
- Fermented dairy products such as buttermilk, maas, yoghurt and kefir naturally have longer shelf life than fresh dairy products due to the activity of the gut friendly bacteria. Buttermilk, maas and sometimes, yoghurt can be great substitutes for fresh milk in many baking and bread recipes. You can also easily find many delicious recipes where they are the featured wet ingredient.
- Cheeses are also fermented dairy products containing beneficial bacteria that have a reasonably long life in the fridge. It helps to store cheeses in a dry, airtight container; you can add a paper towel to absorb any moisture. If mould does develop on the outside of cheese, simply slice it off at a depth of 1cm.
Become a lockdown cheesemaker
Many of us are using the unexpected time of lockdown to develop our culinary talents, and this can be fun for the whole family. Did you know that cottage cheese is incredibly easy to make at home, using only two ingredients?
You will need:
2 litres full-cream milk
500 ml maas
A muslin or cheese cloth
Mix together the milk and maas and cover. Let it stand in a warm place and allow to curdle. Do not stir. This process can take up to 24 hours, so be patient. Line a colander with the clean cloth and suspend it over a bowl. Once your mixture has curdled, gently ladle the curds into the lined colander to strain the curds from the whey over the course of the next few hours. Stir the curds every once in a while to help it along. Scoop the cottage cheese into a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate. It is ready for use. You can add flavours of your own choice for savoury or sweet uses.
Homemade cottage cheese can be the star of a delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch.