Breast milk — it’s not just for babies.
Turns out there’s a market (albeit a niche one) for cheese made with — you guessed it — breast milk. And whether you’ve landed here by accident or while doing extensive recipe research, the very notion of breast milk cheese is probably enough to pique your curiosity — if not your appetite.
So should you get out that vintage wine you’ve been saving and serve up some aged colostrum curdles, or leave this unique culinary creation to avant-garde chefs and lactating turophiles? Here are the fascinating facts to consider.
Yes, it is possible to make cheese with breast milk. Although, it’s certainly not a frequently attempted endeavor or widely accepted appetizer option.
While some chefs have privately — and publicly — tried using the ingredient in recipes, you probably won’t see “foremilk fondue” on a restaurant menu near you anytime soon.
If you watch the reality TV show “MasterChef,” though, you might know that a contestant once served Gordon Ramsay — much to his shock — breast milk mac and cheese.
While he was caught off guard by the use of this intensely personal secret ingredient, other culinary artists are more readily on board with some titillating experimentation in the kitchen. After all, breast is best, right?
In 2010 renowned restauranteur and chef Daniel Angerer made waves and headlines when he posted a recipe for breast milk cheese on his blog.
As the story goes, his nursing wife had an abundant supply of pumped breast milk and lack of freezer storage; thus, inspiration struck. Waste not, want not when you have a plethora of mommy’s milk to ferment.
Alas, a little (OK, big!) thing like health regulations impeded Angerer from being able to offer the gourmet fruits, er, dairy of his wife’s labor to his more adventurous restaurant diners in New York City.
Yes, this fromage “faux pas” was solely a black market menu offering that was only available to close friends and family members in Angerer’s home kitchen — and for good reason, of course.
Breast milk is unpasteurized and can harbor illness-causing bacteria if it’s not handled and stored properly. Moreover, it’s a bodily fluid; it can carry viruses like HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. This is why donated breast milk should be strictly screened and tested before distribution.
While the risk of contracting a serious disease via a bite-size portion of breast milk cheese is incredibly low, it still warrants a red flag from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as well as other regulatory institutions around the United States. There are rules in place meant to discourage the use of human fluids in the use of cooking.
Health implications aside, the majority of cheese connoisseurs are aghast at the idea of swapping out cow’s milk or goat’s milk for a lactating mama’s liquid gold. That said, a few bold foodie fanatics out there are intrigued by the ingenuity of using breast milk.
Furthermore, strict vegans may appreciate culinary creations made with the human (and humanely) sourced ingredient as an animal-friendly alternative to other “dairy” products.
In fact, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) celebrates the idea of using human milk instead of animal milk as a more ethical choice in cooking.
Still, it should be noted that Angerer’s original recipe for breast milk cheese uses part cow’s milk and rennet to achieve coagulation, so it’s not quite a vegan dish.
If making cheese is not in your skill set (or of any interest), you can find other creative ways to use your breast milk in the kitchen.
Cooking with breast milk can be a nifty way to get more of the immune-building, nutrient-rich liquid into a weaning baby’s diet or give an older child (or yourself) its health-boosting benefits.
You can make mac and cheese with breast milk (but be sure to warn the eater!), use it as the liquid component in cereals, or dilute solid blends with a little squirt — no measuring cups required.
Breast milk pancakes are a sweet breakfast option, and breast milk ice cream and popsicles are fun and healthy treats to make for babies and teething toddlers (you can mix in fruits and veggies, too).
If you choose to use breast milk in lieu of an animal’s milk in your general cooking, though, be aware that it may alter the outcome and compromise the recipe. Breast milk is much sweeter than animal milk, so it might not be the ideal choice for savory recipes.
Furthermore, the flavor of breast milk can be influenced by the mother’s diet, so there could be some degree of taste variation. Nevertheless, experimentation is at the heart of any chef’s repertoire, so pump and play away.
Breast milk is amazing. It’s the only food your baby needs for the first 6 months of their life. But if you’ve been blessed with more than your little one can chug down, feel free to embrace your inner chef and cook up something interesting.
And, hey, if congealed breast milk tickles your fancy, go ahead and get your cheesemaking on. Fromage from mom for the win!