Introduction to Dairy Science and Technology: Milk History, Consumption, Production, and Composition
This course is about the study of milk and milk-derived food products from a food science perspective. It focuses on the biological, chemical, physical, and microbiological aspects of milk itself, and on the technological (processing) aspects of the transformation of milk into its various consumer products, including beverages, fermented products, concentrated and dried products, butter and ice cream.
Milk is as ancient as humankind itself, as it is the substance created to feed the mammalian infant. All species of mammals, from humans to whales, produce milk for this purpose. Many centuries ago, perhaps as early as 6000-8000 BC, ancient peoples learned to domesticate species of animals for the provision of milk to be consumed by them. These included cows (genus Bos), buffaloes, sheep, goats, and camels, all of which are still used in various parts of the world for the production of milk for human consumption.
Fermented products such as cheeses were discovered by accident, but their history has also been documented for many centuries, as has the production of concentrated milks, butter, and even ice cream.
Technological advances have only come about very recently in the history of milk consumption, and our generations will be the ones credited for having turned milk processing from an art to a science. The availability and distribution of milk and milk products today in the modern world is a blend of the centuries old knowledge of traditional milk products with the application of modern science and technology.
The role of milk in the traditional diet has varied greatly in different regions of the world. The tropical countries have not been traditional milk consumers, whereas the more northern regions of the world, Europe (especially Scandinavia) and North America, have traditionally consumed far more milk and milk products in their diet. In tropical countries where high temperatures and lack of refrigeration has led to the inability to produce and store fresh milk, milk has traditionally been preserved through means other than refrigeration, including immediate consumption of warm milk after milking, by boiling milk, or by conversion into more stable products such as fermented milks.