Category

Food & Drink

Food & Drink, Food Waste Tips

How to Tell if Milk is Off

sniff test for off milk
how to tell if milk is off

Want to know how to tell if milk is off?  Let me share with you the very best method so you’ll never unnecessarily waste a drop again.

I’ve talked before about expiration dates on eggs, and how to check to see if you can eat them past their date.  

But what about milk?  Food waste is a huge problem.  Particularly when it comes to milk.  Here in the UK, a huge one in six pints of milk is thrown away each year.  This is problematic because, in terms of carbon emissions, land use, water use, dairy milk has the biggest impact on the planet.  Wasting less milk where we can is therefore incredibly important.   

So, If your milk has reached its expiry date and you’ve still got some left then how do you tell if milk is off? Or if it is still safe to drink?  Do you sniff the carton to see how it smells?  If you do then what if I tell you then that you’ve been doing it all wrong?

Why The Carton Sniff Test Is Wrong

It’s true.  If you’ve been sniffing the carton/bottle then chances are unless the milk is definitely off, then you will have been getting a false picture of how the milk actually smells.  

Instead of the milk, you’ll actually have been getting a whiff of the horrible dried up bits of milk around the rim of the carton.  This may have perhaps caused you to bin the milk unnecessarily early.

My 91-year-old grandad has scant regard for expiration dates on food.  Want to know a true story? A little while ago he found a tin of tomatoes 10 years out of date in the back of his cupboard.  A lesser person might have put the can in the bin.  But no, not my grandad. Nope, he used the tomatoes to make them into tomato soup and ate it regardless.  And you know what?  He was perfectly fine! 

His rule for how to tell if milk is off is simple but dubious.  If he puts milk in his tea or coffee and it curdles then it’s off.  If not, then the milk is fine for consumption, regardless of the date on the carton.

I personally think my grandad’s milk testing method is a bit extreme.  I mean, who wants to potentially waste a perfectly good cup of tea?

So What Is The Best Method?

In actual fact, the best way to tell if milk is off or not is to pour a little bit of milk into a clean glass.  Then sniff the milk in the glass.  This gives you a much better idea of if the milk is off or not.

It’s fail-safe – you’ll never throw out perfectly good milk again!

Do you have any tips to reduce food waste?  Do share in the comments below! And if you’re thinking about switching to oat milk, then here’s my guide to the best oat milk.

Autumn, Food & Drink

Easy Blackberry and Vanilla Jam

blackberry and vanilla jam
blackberry and vanilla jam

Let me share with you my favourite blackberry and vanilla jam recipe.

Blackberry picking is one of life’s greatest simple pleasures that sweetens the summer’s end.  From the plucking of the big juicy jewels to the accompanying blackberry-stained fingers: what could be better?  Perhaps only this easy and delicious blackberry and vanilla jam recipe!

Last week my toddler and I picked a big bowl of blackberries from some wild growing blackberry bushes only a few yards from my home. Food miles – zero!

best blackberry and vanilla jam

After eating a few, I wondering what to do with my foraged finds.  My thoughts quickly turned to jam – that indulgent pleasure that brightens up your morning toast no end. It is also a great way of preserving fruit right the way through the winter.  

I wanted to add an extra kick to my jam, so I thought vanilla might add that extra something something.  Turned out I was right – blackberry and vanilla jam makes for a delicious indulgence!

Before I made jam for the first time several years ago, I thought it was a long-winded and laborious process.  I had watched my gran make jam many years ago when I was a small child. This seemed to take hours and an awful lot of stirring.  Thinking back, my gran wouldn’t have used pectin so it would have taken a long long time to get the jam to set to the right consistency.  Thankfully, jam sugar (sugar with added pectin) is readily available, speeding the whole process up to just minutes!

Blackberry and Vanilla Jam Recipe

Easy Blackberry and Vanilla Jam

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 -5 jars

Ingredients

  • 800 grams of blackberries
  • 1 kilo of jam sugar sugar with pectin added to it (you can use regular sugar and buy pectin separately, or even make your own pectin from apples if you have the time/inclination).
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
  • 1 knob of butter
  • Several empty jars and lids 4/5
  • A heavy/thick bottomed pot cast iron or similar

Instructions

  1. Sterilise your jars – see this handy guide on how to sterilise glass jars if you’re unsure how to do it correctly.
  2. Now wash and prepare your blackberries. If you want jam with chunky pieces of fruit in it (my personal preference) then lightly mash them with a potato masher in your pan. If you prefer smooth jam, place your blackberries in a food processor and blend them up before placing them in the pan. At this point you can seive them with a fine mesh seive if you prefer seedless jam
  3. Add a tablespoon of vanilla essence and all of the jam sugar to the blackberries, and then over a medium heat, slowly heat up the mixture and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Do not let it boil at this point.
  4. Add the knob of butter, stir well until it melts in, and then bring to the boil.
  5. Once the pot has started boiling furiously set a timer for four minutes, and let boil.
  6. Once your four minutes is up, remove from the heat and test to see if your jam has set. To do this, I always place a teaspoon of jam on a plate, and then place it in the fridge for a minute or two. If the jam is still runny after being in the fridge then return the pot to the heat and boil for another two minutes, and repeat the test. Keep doing this – boiling for two minutes and testing – until your jam sets on the plate.
  7. Once set, give the pot a good stir, remove the jars from the oven, and ladle in the jam into the hot jars, working quickly. You may burn your fingers at this point – be warned!
  8. Wipe any spills off of the rim of the jar and sides with a clean warm cloth. Remove the lids from the water and screw on tightly.
  9. Your jam should then be good for 6 months – keep in a cool dark place for best results.
easy blackberry and vanilla jam recipe

My bounty!

Some Blackberry Picking Tips

Cover your arms and legs unless you want some nice scratches.

Try not to pick from the sides of busy roads – heavy metals can get into them, which isn’t what you want.

Don’t pick from ground level – they may be covered in dog wee.

Don’t pick too high – keep those ones for the birds.

Don’t wash them until you need to use them, otherwise they’ll go soggy.

Keep them in the fridge and use within 24 hours because they spoil quickly.

The best time to pick is from the end of August through to the end of September.  Superstition holds that after the end of September the devil urinates on them, but the truth is that they just don’t taste nice come October.

Will you be jamming this autumn?  If you do then I dare you to try and not sing Jammin’ by Bob Marley as you make your blackberry and vanilla jam.  I have tried many times and found it’s downright impossible!  What jam will you be making?

blackberry and vanilla jam