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6.1: Introduction to Dairy Products

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  • Milk and milk products are some of our oldest and best-known natural foods. In baking, milk is used fresh, condensed, powdered, skimmed, or whole. The great bulk, weight, and perishability of fresh milk plus the expense of refrigeration makes it a relatively high-cost ingredient, and for this reason, most modern bakeries use non-fat powdered milk or buttermilk powder.

    Over the past 20 years, there has been a trend to lower fat content in dairy products. This reflects the high caloric value of milk fat, and also is compatible with the trend to leaner, healthier nutrition. These “low-fat” products often have the fat replaced with sugars, so care must be taking in substituting these ingredients
    in a recipe. For bakers, this trend has not meant any great changes in formulas: a 35% milk fat or a 15% cream cheese product usually works equally well in a cheesecake. Some pastry chefs find lowering the richness in pastries and plated desserts can make them more enjoyable, especially after a large meal.

    Table 1 provides the nutritional properties of milk products.


    Table 1 Nutritional properties of milk products (per 100 g)

    Whole Milk (3.5% milk fat)

    Skim Milk (0.1% milk fat)

    Coffee Cream (18% milk fat)

    Heavy or Whipping Cream
    (36% milk fat)


    3.22 g

    3.37 g




    3.25 g

    0.08 g

    19 g

    37 g


    10 mg

    2 mg

    66 mg

    137 mg


    143 mg

    156 mg

    122 mg

    75 mg


    113 mg

    125 mg

    96 mg

    65 mg


    10 mg

    11 mg

    9 mg

    7 mg


    40 mg

    42 mg

    40 mg

    40 mg

    Vitamin A (IU)

    102 IU

    204 IU

    656 IU

    1470 IU

    Note: Besides the elements shown in Table 1, all dairy products contain vitamin B-complex. IU = International Units, a term used in nutritional measurement

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez (American University). Chemistry of Cooking by Sorangel Rodriguez-Velazquez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted

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