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Low fat dairy + curdling

I want to ask about some experiences cooking with low fat/fat free dairy. If a recipe normally includes cream (soup, maybe a sauce for example), and I wanted to add a little bit of creaminess without the fat, I have had issues in the past of adding a lower fat milk (1%) and having it curdle with heat. Has anyone had this experience? Has anyone picked up any good tips for cooking with low fat dairy?
I see some low fat recipes calling for skim evaporated milk- what have you had good results using that for (if anything?)

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  1. Why do you want to use low-fat anything? Low-fat dairy has concentrated sugar (bad). It is more processed. It doesn't cook/bake as well and doesn't taste as good. Half of the vitamins you take in are fat soluable. Your brain needs fat. Etc.

    3 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      Agree on the quality and nutrition issues, but I did want to point out that reduced fat milk is no more processed than "whole" milk from the grocery.

      1. re: sandylc

        I used a lot of low fat dairy when I was working on losing weight. At first I was eating 1200 calories a day, then upped to 1500 after awhile. When you're limited on calories, every little calorie counts. 1 cup of heavy cream has ~820 calories 1 cup of 1% has ~110 calories. That's a big difference, even if you break it down into tablespoons.

        Now that I've hit the weight I wanted to be at, and subsequently am eating more calories to maintain it, I don't use the low fat products that much anymore, except to drink or for cereal (both of which I do rarely) as I don't like whole milk by itself.... I grew up on fat free milk and I find whole milk to be kind of gross.

      2. IME evaporated milk tastes nothing like fresh milk or dairy. Fat free evaporated milk tastes like cooked weirdness, or at least it did the last time I used it circa 1991. You can try it, but unless whatever you're making is heavily seasoned or flavored, you'll taste evaporated milk.

        You'd be amazed what a tablespoon or two of high quality full fat dairy will do for adding "a little bit of creaminess".

        I don't do well with dairy-intense stuff and as a result of that I learned that well cooked cauliflower--steam to really mushy and then puree--makes an excellent dairy substitute in cream soups, etc. Not the real thing, flavor-wise, but it does come close, texturally.

        No low or nonfat fresh dairy is going to tolerate boiling. If you must use these, only add them at the last minute to finish the dish, and don't ever simmer or boil.

        1. I use skim milk to make cream of _______ soups. I always start with a roux and never ever boil after adding the milk. The milk is the very last thing and gently heated until very warm. Skim is the milk we drink so that's what I have on hand. And it's organic, which greatly improves the flavor imo.

          As for sauces, I don't know how to get around that. I usually go for half and half or heavy cream.

          1. It has been recently recommended that children and the elderly drink whole milk, not fat-reduced.

            1. creamy = fat. 1% milk is mostly water. yuk.

              if, for example, you're making soup and are being fat-phobic about it, make the soup with excellent stock. take off the heat and stir in a few tablespoons of cream at the end.

              for a sauce to be stable with low-fat milk you need to start with a roux.