Milk is confusing.

Victor: Ew. Did you just pour tap water into your cereal?

me: Yes, because there’s too much milk in the milk.

Victor: What.

me: We only have whole milk but I like 2% milk. What’s the other 98% of 2% milk? It’s gotta be water, right? But also, why doesn’t it cost 2% as much as whole milk?

Victor: That’s not how milk works.

me: Seems like it. 100% milk is the most milk, right? Although if you added powdered milk to 100% milk, what would that be?

Victor: It would be milk. Very gross milk.

me: No, because you’d have more milk per milk. Too much milk. But I don’t know how the math works.

Victor: Clearly.

me: Wait…but why does “evaporated milk” exist? Because if it evaporated it would be gone, right?

Victor: Please stop talking.

me: And if milk evaporates what then why doesn’t it ever rain milk? OMG, is that where 2% milk comes from? Is the other 98% rain?

Victor: Have you been drinking?

me: I think I just became a scientist.

71 thoughts on “Milk is confusing.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. I thought the 2% and 1% had to do with fat.
    But now I have to wonder is whole milk 100% fat? That doesn’t sound right.
    This is why I don’t have cows.

  2. I think that whole milk is 4% fat, then there is 2%, one percent and skim.

  3. I mean, it is the percentage of milk fat, but the percentage of milk fat can be adjusted based on dilution, right? Lol!!!

  4. See this is why I stick with almond/coconut milk. No percentages to decipher. It just is what it is. Pure nutty goodness. Just like me lol.

  5. It’s 2% of the milk’s fat content, not two percent of the milk. But you made me smile. And I’ve heard of someone who added powdered milk to whole milk, and they liked it.

  6. I am a scientist and can confirm. The fact I am actually a geneticist and have only seen cows when driving by a farm means nothing!

  7. My mother worked in a lab that tested milk. Whole milk is between 3% and 5% fat. – so 2% isn’t that much different, except to me it tastes awful.

  8. I love you Jenny.
    You DID absolutely become a scientist. I’m a doctor- and just diagnosed you with scientistism. Not -itis. Or – osis. -ism. I’m pretty sure that’s how we say the state of being, versus you’re inflamed with science or its invaded your blood or mind.
    Definitely a non-pathological diagnosis- I diagnosed you with a not-a-medical-problem. Thank you!
    That made my day.❤️
    I just applied for a fellowship where writing is my job- part time. Can you do the writer’s equvalent of diagnosing me with writingism? Writism sounds like I’d be against health equity or discourage mRNA vaccination or swerve to hit bunnies on purpose.
    Also, I never posted it, because I completely forget why- and that’s probably exactly why I didn’t post it, but the Pitch Perfect Trilogy kept me alive in the darkest months of my life, just now brightening up- my first born (afab, they/them, they don’t like when I say offspring or child, and kid seems like the wrong valence when you read how this interminable sentence ends) tried to die, on purpose on Tuesday October 5, 2021 at 11:35 am.
    They are alive and WELL, actually truly well. Much sooner than I was.
    I watched all the pitch perfects even the vagina/vulva shaming bit in Pitch Perfect II, which was I guess supposed to be so absurd as to be funny, but I didn’t like that one part. Though, Rebel Wilson DID wear a Make America Eat Again hat in PP III, and given her history with an ED, regardless of the press she’s getting now, I thought that was brilliant and badass.
    But those movies got me through.
    Lots of love to you, fellow scientist!


  9. I feel like my son and I have had this exact conversation. 😂😂

  10. There’s always been too much milk in the milk. I have never liked milk. Cereal is eaten dry. Almondmilk is used in everything else. Except baking. I can bake with milk-milk. Milk is weird. And now I’ve said/read that word too many times and it sounds weird in my brain. Milk. Milk. Milk. Like, is it even a word?

  11. Now that you’re a scientist, you need a white coat. That makes it official…for the win.

  12. I am currently studying dairy products as part of my masters in food science, so I can answer questions if you still have them. But yeah, whole milk means that out of any amount of that milk, there is at least 3.25% milkfat by weight. it often averages out around 4%, but 3.25% is the FDA minimum.

    Evaporated milk means that 60% of the water in milk has been removed by heating it lightly in a vacuum chamber.

    Seriously, I am currently taking a break from studying dairy science. Here’s a fun fact: Many cultured dairy products use Streptococcus to break down lactose. It is a harmless cousin of the stuff that gives you strep throat, but I’m seriously squicked out by it anyways.

  13. Also, I think you might have another not-a-medical-problem diagnosis. Mirror-touch synesthesia. In Broken, something about how you described taking and giving shards when one, in the course of the day, interacts with others- you described more than empathy- first cognitively recognizing then accurately feeling what another person is feeling. It sounded so much more instantaneous and deep from your soul, unbidden falling into the sorrow or joy or panic of another.
    Mirror touch synesthesia is conventionally defined as physically feeling what you see others physically feel- if you watch someone chew and swallow, you feels food in your own mouth and going down your esophagus.

    But, one day the AMA will recognize the brain as an organ, and the limbic system as a body part inside the brain, and emotions as actual physiological events, and people with mirror touch synesthesia will no longer be called *empaths* with exactly as much metaphysics and as little real science as the word conveys. I’m excited for that day, because on that day, when people say about an emotional condition “Oh, it’s all in your head” no one will have to reply “Of fucking COURSE it is- where do you keep YOUR brain?” because they’ll be simply stating an objective fact instead of a patronizing, invalidating, stigma growing, possibly well-intended but ultimately worse than empty platitude.

    I have the same kind of synesthesia plus I see music (in my head, not with my eyes, thank goodness), bell peppers they taste like profound loss or an overcast day, and 5 is orange, and Thursday is translucent green the color of celery when its as light green as it gets and still be called green instead of white.

  14. Also, someone asked about condensed milk (aka sweetened condensed milk aka the world’s greatest coffee creamer). It is like evaporated milk in that 60% of the water is removed via vacuum chamber but then a bunch of sugar is added until it constitutes 40-45% of the total weight. This is why it is so delicious. There are other differences, but they’re more technical and probably not widely interesting.

  15. I grew up on 2% milk, and had this same question when I was in my early 20s and actually had control over buying my own groceries for the first time. “Whole milk” is 3.5-4% fat so it’s about twice as creamy as 2%. I tried skim milk once and agree it’s basically water, can’t stand the stuff. I tried whole milk and never went back. 2% tastes really gross and sour to me now.

    The highest percentage you’re likely to encounter in a liquid (butter is 80%) is heavy whipping cream, which can be something like 36-40% fat, and half and half is around 12%, halfway between whole milk and the mythical (at least, I’ve never seen a store selling it) light cream that’s supposedly around 18%. Milk fat helps make cream more stable, less likely to curdle when heated in a sauce, and you can’t whip milk like you can cream because the fat lets it hold on to its structure.

    My husband makes amazing creme brulee and the milkfat percentages are vitally important to getting the right texture in the end. You end up with a greasy mouthfeel if you use all heavy cream, but it won’t solidify enough if you use all half and half, so we aim for somewhere around the 25% range by mixing the heavy whipping cream with milk.

  16. Always wondered how you milk an almond. One in each hand and squeeze left, then right, left, right? Does the milk squirt into a bucket? Do you sit on a three-legged stool and wear a cool old-timey outfit?

  17. We only get fat free milk at our house because my housemate can only drink that. I call it “I Can’t Believe It’s Milk” since it is also flavor free. Now after using this for the past few years, any other milk upsets my stomach! 😆 Stockholm Milk Syndrome! 🤣

  18. And the more you say or read the word “milk”, the weirder it is.

  19. We used to buy whole milk with all the cream on top of it, just like it comes out of the cow, from a farm just up the road out of the city where I grew up in. You had to shake it to blend the cream into it before you poured it out of the container, otherwise you got just cream on top and skim milk below. But if you shook it too hard or too much, you would get chunks of butter from the cream floating on top. It all tasted good to me, except skim or 1% milk, which is gross. I can deal with 2% milk, but I prefer the whole milk in cereal, or half and half in my coffee.

  20. I guess it would be 200% milk!

    They only evaporate some of the milk. If they evaporated all of it, it’d be powdered milk.

    I’m pretty sure, anyway

  21. Ever since I watched you and Victor in that interview these written versions of your conversations are SO much MORE fun!!!!

  22. My partner who has actual qualifications saying she’s a scientist read this and says she’s added water to full fat milk too. She also wondered about adding milk powder to milk. Thankfully her science is engineering, not biology or chemistry.

  23. I love how your mind works, this is awesome. Though there are so many ‘milk’s in this post that it kind of stopped looking like a real word, lol.

  24. Everyone is saying milk fat. So now milk has to worry about being fat?!
    Per Doctors, the nutty milks are just flavored waters.
    Then there is evaporated milk. As you said, where does that go?!
    Condensed milk. Does that mean they squish it all down?! Eww!
    This is all just so much to contend with.


  25. I feel seen in thisnpost because I feel like this is an exact thought pattern I would have! Milk math is stupid!

  26. Mayonnaise is the real deal. Mackerel Whip is gross, IMHO. Discuss.

  27. I really wish I had been drinking milk when I read this, so when I laugh so hard my child thought something was wrong, I could have said “You made milk come out my nose”

    Next science experiment do different milks fell different if someone makes you laugh while you are drinking?

  28. The planet has too many cows switch to soy or coconut ‘milk’.

  29. Allison is speaking my language! Thought I was the only weirdo.

    Science demands another question be asked..Why are milkshakes called milkshakes?

    Those should be called ice cream shakes, since the whole point is to drink ice cream.

    Wait a minute those are mostly made of ice cream…? Right? I think…?

    What is mostly ice cream though per milkshake…60 percent… 50 percent..?

    The unknown variable of what type of milk for said milkshake now made this an inception situation. Milk within ice cream within milk. Oh no. Wait.

    Milk you crafty sneak! Milkshakes have been the gateway for me to drink mostly milk! The percentage of milk ratio per treat has been lost to time and space. The future is in your hands now, children.

    BRB to intensely mull this over further with a frosty and fries…

  30. We ran out of milk once. I was 18, brother 23. We both wanted cereal. I tried Pepsi, he tried beer. We should’ve just gone to the damn store.

  31. So glad I don’t have a milk conundrum. I hate milk. It makes me throw up.
    It leaves a filmy aftertaste & my word when it starts to age…whoa, that stuff is NASTY!!

  32. We had cows and while mom skimmed the cream off, she never got it all so we had 105% or so milk.

  33. Jenny,

    We can always count on you to ask the important questions no one else thinks to ask. The world owes you a fruit basket, complete with fruit bats, because a regular fruit basket would be too normal.

    I used to babysit (about forty-five years ago) a kid who put grapefruit juice on his cereal because he couldn’t have milk.


  34. At least it’s not “Reeney Milk” – aka milk from my grandparents’ cow Irene which was often odd and was just terrible in the spring when she’d been eating Spring Onions. Nothing puts you off milk like oniony milk.

  35. I have nothing to say re: the Milk Wars, but I wanted to say that you are one of the people who help me still be capable of smiling in these dark times. And if you or Hailey ever find yourselves in need of out-of-state healthcare, I have a guestroom in Massachusetts for you.

  36. Dairy milk is the only product that is required to be labeled by the fat content that is IN it, vs. how fat-free it is! Think of all the other things that are labeled 98% fat-free…but milk is telling you it has 2% fat. So it’s 100% milk, and 2% of that is fat. -Your friendly WI dairy farmer’s daughter

  37. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think mayonnaise is 100% fat? I have a vague memory of reading the label once and being horrified.

  38. I thought you were lactose-intolerant? Why are we talking about milk on your cereal?
    #23 suggested you wear a white lab coat. Don’t you have White-Coat Syndrome? Does that mean you’d faint if you saw yourself in a mirror?
    My aunt used to add powdered milk to her daughters’ regular milk, thinking it would increase the protein, calcium, and other health benefits. Ecch!

  39. Ummmmm… I have ABSOLUTELY added water to “dilute” whole milk b/c we prefer 1% or 2%

    You are not alone. Whole milk seems like drinking cream to me. blech

  40. @Misha When you run out of milk for your cereal, the only proper substitute is Bailey’s Irish Cream

  41. Whole milk is 4% fat, so 2% is half the fat.

    Got it.

    So half and half is half 2% and whole milk or half 2% and skim?


  42. Your scientifical debate with Victor is just what I needed to get through this insane week. Thanks, Dr. Jenny.

  43. Lately I keep seeing commercials for OAT milk. Just exactly how do you milk an oat?

  44. I don’t drink milk because (a) I don’t like it and (b) have you seen where it comes from?!? No thank you; I’ll just take my cereal dry. Although I am okay with it in cake because cake makes everything better.

  45. I have considered the same thing. I am a staunch skim milk drinker and 2% is too milky for me. I have contemplated watering it down too.

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