Overnight Milk

I loved being sent to the pantry when I was a child. It wasn’t the usual opening of a cupboard door and rifling through packets of unused ingredients. We had a room dedicated to food with floor to ceiling shelves stacked with everything a good cook would need.

Growing up in PNG meant that our pantry was filled with enough of life’s food essentials for 3 months at a time. Mum didn’t just feed our family of four 3 meals a day either, there was ALWAYS 2 or more extra bodies at the dinner table. We never knew who, or how many, we just lived generously.

There was no access to fresh milk in the Highlands, so Mum became a deft hand at being creative with powdered, condensed and evaporated milks. To this day evaporated milk is one of my favourite flavours. Creating this milk is deceptively easy and the flavour from making it yourself is absolutely beautiful.

We’ve been playing with what we refer to as  “Overnight Milk” at The jam Pantry  It’s so called because quite simply, that is literally all you do! Pop a 2 litre good quality full cream milk in a pot and cook on low, about 160 degrees, (or 140 degrees fan forced) overnight, approx 8 hours. The milk will have grown a skin which is a cook’s treat and all of the sugars or lactose in the milk will have caramelised, turning the milk a wonderful golden colour.  Now here’s where the fun begins.

We’ve added 60mls of milk kefir to our overnight milk and allowed it to ferment in a warm spot for at least 6 hours. The longer you leave it the more sour the initial flavour. This makes the most delicious naturally caramel yoghurt. We’ve then taken it a step further and drained the yoghurt for 2 days in a muslin lined colander, which separates the curds and whey. (You can keep the whey and add it to smoothies for a delicious, natural protein hit). The curds then become a type of cheese commonly referred to as labne. You don’t have to make overnight milk to eventually get labne, draining a good quality store bought yoghurt is also delicious but the thrill of making it from scratch is undeniable and the flavour is out of this world.

Our labne is currently being served on two of our Boards this flip. Our Fruit Board has it served with green tea poached pears, banana, shaved persimmon and toasted pepitas and the Pancakes are made with a cardamom batter and served with banana, our overnight milk  labne, shaved persimmon and black sesame.

Here’s some other fun things you can do with your overnight milk. By all means, buy a can of evaporated milk from the supermarket but it won’t be nearly as satisfying.

– Add 400mls of milk to a packet of jelly crystals, raspberries particularly good and hey presto; instant pudding that tastes a whole lot classier than it sounds.

– Instead of using cream for a chocolate ganache, use equal parts dark chocolate and warm overnight milk with a pinch of salt for a lighter finish but deeper flavour.

– Mum would make a potato bake with evaporated milk, sliced onions and cheese instead of cream. It’s still a flavour I crave.

– Make caramel sauce with overnight milk instead of cream. The flavour is so much better without it being so rich and thick in your mouth.

– Use your overnight milk to make custard, yep you’ll thank me later.

– When your making a “cream of” soup, use half stock and half overnight milk. Especially for something like a cream of cauliflower soup. The flavour is amazeballs.

– While we’re on the subject of savoury dishes, overnight milk is pretty damn good in a mac’n cheese as well, especially if the cheese you’re using hasn’t got a robust flavour. It’ll definitely help your cause!

– I really like overnight milk in a cup of strong french pressed coffee with some coconut or rapadura sugar. It beats caramel syrup every time.

p.s. I’m not sure that my generous Mother has ever realised the incredible influence she’s had on my love for food.

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