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Why Dairy Cows Drink A Bathtub of Water Every Day

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When milk’s involved, magic happens. We’re partnering with Milk Life to learn all about the essential role the farm-fresh beverage plays in elevating everyday recipes—and sharing recipes, tools, and tips for incorporating milk’s rich and smooth texture into wholesome at-home cooking. Read up here.

Dairy cows themselves are remarkable: They drink a bathtub’s worth—about 35 gallons—of water every day, producing 6 gallons of milk per day. They can live into their mid-twenties! (Maybe it’s how well-hydrated they are.) They can see almost 360 degrees at any given moment (that’s called “panoramic vision”), but can’t see the colors red or green. They have a four-compartment stomach that allows them to eat and digest “roughage” like coarse grasses and weeds that we never could. And that’s before we’re even talking about milk: A cow produces, on average, 6 gallons of milk a day—that’s 876,000 glasses of milk in a lifetime!

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Photo by Maja Säfström

And Americans consume about 155 pounds of milk—that’s about 20 gallons—per person, per year! We love cow’s milk, not only for how well it washes down a slice of chocolate cake but for how well it does other things: carries flavors, ferments, braises, poaches, bakes, sours, tenderizes, flavors, softens, thickens, thins, leans savory, leans sweet. It’s good to drink, yes, but is also an essential kitchen companion:

To braise!

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk by Genius Recipes

Milk-Braised Beet Greens

Milk-Braised Beet Greens by Jennifer Perillo

Pork Cooked in Milk (Maiale al Latte)
Pork Cooked in Milk (Maiale al Latte)

To poach!

Milk Peas

Milk Peas by Amanda Hesser

Milk-Poached Chicken with Tarragon and Peas

Milk-Poached Chicken with Tarragon and Peas by CarolineWright

To ferment and to sour (and thus, to tenderize!)!

Homemade Milk Kefir

Homemade Milk Kefir by Emma Galloway | My Darling ...

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate Bundt Cake by Kelsey Banfield

Rosemary Grapefruit Milk Punch

Rosemary Grapefruit Milk Punch by Samantha Weiss Hills

Creamy Homemade Ricotta

Creamy Homemade Ricotta by Jennifer Perillo

Homemade Paneer

Homemade Paneer by kulsum Kunwa

Creamiest Vanilla Bean Yogurt

Creamiest Vanilla Bean Yogurt by Caroline Lange

To carry flavor!

Rose-Infused Turkish Rice Pudding (Sütlaç)
Rose-Infused Turkish Rice Pudding (Sütlaç)
Squash n' Spice Milk

Squash n' Spice Milk by Caroline Lange

Cereal Milk Ice Cream

Cereal Milk Ice Cream by Catherine Lamb

To bake!

Hot Milk Cake

Hot Milk Cake by sara_cornelius_

A Pudding-Soft, Berry-Studded Dessert to End Your Cake vs. Pie Debates

A Pudding-Soft, Berry-Studded Dessert to End Your Cake vs... by Sarah Jampel

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To thicken!

Julia Child's Tian de Courgettes au Riz (Zucchini Tian)
Julia Child's Tian de Courgettes au Riz (Zucchini Tian)
Milk "Mayonnaise" (Maionese de Leite)

Milk "Mayonnaise" (Maionese de Leite) by Amanda Hesser

Homemade Dulce de Leche

Homemade Dulce de Leche by Catherine Lamb

And don’t forget about its ability, crucially, to steam.

Malted Milk Latte
Malted Milk Latte

Make magic with milk this fall. We're partnering with Milk Life to learn all about milk and the incredible things cows can do—and arming you with recipes, tools, and tips for making use of milk’s superpowers while we’re at it. Have a look at just how essential its seat at the table is here.

Tags: milk life