Cooking with dairy provides your family with meals and snacks that are both delicious and nutritious. We offer you cooking and storage tips for your dairy products, information about nutrition, and of course, mouth-watering recipes.



Many more mouth-watering recipes can be found here:


by Danielle Varner, Huntingdon County Dairy Princess

  • 32 oz. hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 lb. sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Sour Cream
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 3 Tbs. onion, chopped
  • ¾ cups butter, melted, divided
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 cups corn flakes, slightly crushed

In a large bowl, combine ½ cup of butter with the potatoes, cheese, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, and onion. Spread in a greased 13 X 9 baking dish. Sprinkle with paprika. Combine corn flakes and ¼ cup butter and sprinkle on top. Bake uncovered at 350º for 45 minutes. Serves 6.



VARIETIES: Sour cream or cultured sour cream is pasteurized cream that contains no less than 18% milkfat and the addition of bacteria allowed to grow and produce lactic acid. Acidified sour cream is also pasteurized cream containing no less than 18% milkfat with the addition of acidifiers . Sour half-and-half contains no less than 10.5% milkfat and the addition of bacteria producing lactic acid. Acidified sour half-and-half contains no less than 10.5% milkfat and the addition of acidifiers.

IN THE DIET: Sour cream contains only 25 calories per tablespoon. One tablespoon offers 14 milligrams of calcium, 95 International Units (IU) of vitamin A, and .018 mg. of riboflavin (B2).

SHOPPING POINTERS: Sour cream is available solo or , as the label indicates, flavors of sweeteners added such as fruit, fruit juices, blue cheese, onion, horseradish, chives, bacon bits, seafood, or spices.

STORAGE RECOMMENDATIONS: Refrigerate covered at 40 degrees F. Freezing is not recommended as it causes separation. Peak freshness lasts several days after purchase. Total keeping time is about 4 weeks. Characteristics of high quality sour cream include a mild hint of acid flavor, thick, smooth body and absence of separation. If separation does occur, stir until liquid is reabsorbed. Sour cream for dips should pass the potato chip test – thin enough not to break the chip but thick enough not to run or drip.

WAYS WITH SOUR CREAM: A dip for chips of fresh vegetables. A baked potato topper with bacon or chives. A dollop on chilled tomato juice of borscht. A dressing on a crisp garden salad. Add to fish or gravies for extra tang. A dab on pound cake, apple pie, or rice pudding. Combine with brown sugar to top blueberries, seedless grapes, strawberries, etc.


The tangy product we call buttermilk evolved from the process of making butter. Since butter making has been around 5,000 years, buttermilk also dates back that far. Early colonists utilized the fluid left over from butter making to use as a beverage and cooking ingredient.

Today’s buttermilk is made by fermentation. Bacteria of specially selected strains are grown or cultured under laboratory conditions then added to milk, converting some of the milk sugar lactose to lactic acid. Most often, lowfat or skim milk is used in this process. Salt is also added in small quantities to enhance flavor.

All the food nutrients essential for health and well being, can be found in a serving (8 oz.) of buttermilk. They are vitamin A, vitamin C, Thiamin (B1), Niacin, Iron, and the highest amounts being calcium, protein, and riboflavin (B2). If made with skim milk, the calorie value per 8 oz. glass is 90. Buttermilk made with 2% milkfat is 120 calories and , if made with whole milk, is 150 calories.

It is interesting to note that Europeans enjoy flavored buttermilk such as chocolate, cherry, pineapple, and strawberry. There is little or no demand for these products in the United States. Buttermilk should be kept clean, cool, and covered. Due to the acidity in buttermilk, the growth of spoilage bacteria is retarded and will keep for as long as two weeks after purchase if stored properly. Peak flavor, however, is best when used within the first week after purchase. The longer the period of refrigeration, the greater the increase in acidity and consequent loss of flavor. Freezing buttermilk is not advised as separation of the watery portion from the solids occurs and taste is altered. If buttermilk has been frozen, stir gently after thawing to recombine whey and solids.

Cooks use buttermilk as a cooking ingredient for light and tender cakes, biscuits, and pancakes. It is also used to tenderize meats and offsets the ‘gaminess’ of venison if marinated overnight in buttermilk.



It cannot be emphasized enough – milk is a nutrient dense food providing a high level of essential nutrients when compared to its calorie count. Each serving of milk provides 10% or more of the recommended daily intake for calcium, Vitamin D (if fortified), protein, potassium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B 12 , riboflavin, and phosphorus.

CALCIUM – Key to bone building and helping muscles contract. Calcium helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and colon cancer. Children ages 4-8 and adults ages 19-50 should consume 3 servings of milk (or its equivalent) each day. Please note, however, children 9-18 and adults 50 and older, meet their calcium needs with 4 servings a day.

PROTEIN – Key to repairing muscles. Protein found in milk is high quality meaning it contains ALL essential amino acids, the so called building blocks of protein.

PHOSPHORUS – Key to strengthening bones.

VITAMIN D – Key to helping the body absorb calcium.

MAGNESIUM –Key to healthy bones and teeth.

POTASSIUM – Key to regulating the body’s fluid balance and maintaining normal blood pressure.

ZINC – Key to keeping skin, bones, and hair healthy.

VITAMIN A – Key to maintaining normal vision.

NIACIN – Key to maintaining the normal function of enzymes.

VITAMIN B 12 – Key to building red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to working muscles.

RIBOFLAVIN (B2) – Key to converting food into energy. Also promotes both skin and eye health.

No wonder milk is considered to be the most complete single food there is! What is the key to good health? Make dairy products part of your daily meal plans – 3 EVERY DAY!


Instant non-fat dry milk should be a staple in your cupboard. If you can’t get to the store when you run out of fresh milk, or when your electricity goes out for an extended period, you can still have the nutritional benefits of dairy with dry milk.

A simple rule of thumb for reconstituting dry milk is a 5/16 ratio; that is, 5 measures of dry milk added to 15 measures of water will make 16 measures of milk. For example, add 1 ¼ cups of dry milk to 3 ¾ cups of water to make 4 cups (1 quart) of milk.

To make sweetened condensed milk from dry milk, simply follow this recipe:

  • 1 cup nonfat dry milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar (granulated)
  • ⅓ cup boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp. softened butter

Combine dry milk, sugar, water and butter in blender until smooth. Refrigerate until chilled and slightly thick.
Yield: 1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk.

To make evaporated milk out of dry milk:

Pour 1 ⅓ cup of warm water into a pint jar. Empty glass milk bottles also work well for storing evaporated milk in your refrigerator.

Measure out 1 cup of dry milk, and combine with the water. Shake or stir mixture until thoroughly combined.

Add 2 tbsp. of melted butter to milk and shake again. The butter will separate from the milk as it stands, so you need to shake the mixture up just before using for even distribution.
Yield: 1 (12 oz) can of evaporated milk




Yogurt is a mixture of milk and cream fermented by a culture of lactic acid producing bacteria. The milk used in the process may be whole, reduced fat, low-fat or nonfat. A variety of sweeteners, flavorings, and other ingredients such as fruits and preserves, may also be added. The mixture of dairy products and optional ingredients must be pasteurized. The milk in most yogurt is also homogenized.


Yogurt, like other dairy products, provide calcium, protein, vitamins, and other minerals. Yogurt with active cultures may aid digestion, ease diarrhea, boost immunity, fight infection and protect against cancer. Choose yogurt with a seal indicating that it contains live, active cultures to reap the most health benefits. Those who are lactose intolerant also benefit by eating yogurt. Many yogurts contain lower amounts of lactose than milk and the semi-solid consistency contributes to improved tolerance to lactose.


Making your own yogurt from scratch is rather easy, cheap, and not very time-consuming, though it does take some attention to detail. For instructions on how to make your own yogurt, go here.



A great beverage choice for both adults and children, chocolate milk is packed with nutrients that make it nutritionally superior to soft drinks.

Chocolate milk is simply whole milk with chocolate flavoring added. However, other chocolate milk products are available in supermarkets. Chocolate flavoring may be added to lowfat milk and skim milk, identified by the labeling. Flavor is enhanced by adding one or more sweeteners, chocolate flavor, and vanilla extract. A stabilizer is usually added to give chocolate milk its creamy quality. Stabilizers also help keep the cocoa evenly mixed throughout the milk.

Recently, controversy has risen over whether sugar in chocolate milk has been a factor in an increase of obesity in school children. How much sugar does chocolate milk contribute to the diet? Sugar is a carbohydrate. Both flavored and unflavored milks contain sugar, mainly in the form of lactose. Milk naturally has 11 to 12 grams of total carbohydrate per cup. The flavoring added to make chocolate milk provides an additional 14 to 15 grams, or about four teaspoons of sucrose per cup. When figured on a per capita basis, the consumption of added sucrose is small. Studies show that only about one-half of one percent of sugar and corn sweetener in an average diet comes from flavored milks and drinks, including chocolate milk.

The added value of chocolate milk is the essential nutrients found in all milk, nutrients for maintaining good health and growth. Chocolate milk is a nutrient-dense food, meaning it has a high proportion of nutrients in relation to its caloric content. Protein helps build and repair body tissue, calcium helps bones grow longer and stronger, riboflavin helps the nervous system function properly and carbohydrates and fat are good energy sources needed by growing children and active adults.

But, you may ask, what about the chocolate? Is that good for children?

Recent studies show that chocolate in moderate quantities is good for you. It contains antioxidants known as flavanols which the Cleveland Clinic says are beneficial to the heart.

Be an informed consumer in making wise food choices. Consider the research that shows children who drink flavored milk drink more milk and get more calcium; they DO NOT have higher intakes of added sugars or total fat, and drink less soda.

Chocolate milk – it is more than just great taste!


Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, the fat, which is less dense, will eventually rise to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called “separators”. Cream is sold in several grades depending on the total butterfat content. Cream may have thickening agents and stabilisers added. Thickeners include sodium alginate, carrageenan, gelatin, sodium bicarbonate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, and alginic acid.

Prior to the industrialized manufacturing process, people allowed freshly-drawn milk to sit for a day so the milkfat would float to the top. Around the turn of the century, hand cranked separators were produced, and were common on farms and kitchens. Today, centrifuges separate the cream from the milk in a faster and more sterile environment. The milkfat then becomes cream and butter. The USDA has certain requirements for labelling the different types of creams available, and heavy cream, light cream and whipping cream all have different labelling specifications.

Creams are usually labeled “pasteurized” or “ultra-pasteurized”. Ultra pasteurized creams have a longer shelf life than pasteurized creams, but taste is affected (some say it has a cooked flavor), and it is harder to whip. Ultra-pasteurized heavy cream “will not work” if peaks or frothing are required in your recipe. Ultra-pasteurization is a production process that heats cream to 280 degrees Fahrenheit or above for 2-3 seconds. Regular pasteurization is when cream is heated to 172 degrees for 20-25 seconds. In short, pasteurized cream will provide a better flavor, will whip up fluffier, and will hold up longer.


Creams with more fat will whip up better into a stable whipped cream, and they will also resist curdling when used to enrich soups. Creams with lower fat content are better used in beverages or for pouring over desserts.

If you have leftover cream that is close to the expiration date, just freeze it, making sure you leave at least 1/2 inch at the top of the container to leave room for expansion. To thaw, refrigerate overnight. It will probably separate, so shake it well to recombine it. You can also whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Then spoon dollops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze. When the whipped cream dollops are frozen, pack them into an airtight container and freeze up to several weeks or until you need a dollop for dessert. Just be sure to let them thaw for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.

To whip cream: make sure the cream is cold and chill bowl and beaters or whisk in the refrigerator for one hour, or in the freezer for 15 minutes. Beat cream at medium speed until cream starts to thicken. For soft peaks continue to beat until the cream, when beater is raised, droops slightly from the ends of the beater. For stiff peaks beat cream until the cream holds its shape and clings to the end of the beater when raised. If the cream is beaten too long it becomes grainy.


Half-and-Half is a dairy product consisting of half light cream and half milk; it has a butterfat content of between 10 percent and 15 percent. One cup of Half and Half has approximately 280 calories, and 1 Tbs has 17 calories.

Half and Half can be used in cooking, but keep in mind that it has a much lower fat content than heavy cream. Thus, half and half won’t hold its peaks when whipped, and it won’t provide the same thickening to a sauce. It adds a richness milk does not, but is not thick enough to replace cream in recipes that call for cream. The difference is that light cream concentrates when you boil it but half and half will curdle when boiled or you add acid (like lemon juice) and the protein separates out.

Fat free half and half contains no cream, or a very slight amount. It is usually made of skim (nonfat) milk, corn syrup solids, and carrageenan for thickening, and has about 10 calories per tablespoon.

Light cream, also known as table cream, coffee cream, or single cream has between 18 – 30% butterfat, but usually has about 20%. 1 cup of light cream has about 468 calories, and 1 tablespoon has 29 calories.

Light cream is not whippable, due to the lower fat content. Boiling or high heat causes light cream to separate, or curdle, so if you use it for a sauce, heat it slowly and remove from heat before it begins to boil. Cream sauces made with lower-fat cream tend to have less body; to correct for that, consider adding 1 tablespoon flour or 2 teaspoons cornstarch to the sauce for every cup of light cream when the recipe calls for whipping cream or heavy cream. Stir the thickener into a paste first to prevent lumps.

Light whipping cream is specifically for whipping, containing 30-35% milk fat. On average, 1 cup of whipping cream contains 772 calories, or 48 calories per tablespoon. It often contains stabilizers and emulsifiers to ensure it keeps and holds its form when being whipped. It whips but not as well as heavy cream, and will not hold its form long. Good for fillings but does not hold up well for piping.

Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream, has a fat content between 36-40%. One cup contains about 890 calories, and 1 tablespoon about 55 calories. Heavy cream has a thick consistency and is more versatile than lighter creams. Cream with a high fat content will become a more stable whipped cream. Heavy cream resists curdling when heated and is most often used to make chocolate products, custards, ice cream, puddings, soups and sauces. Heavy cream is also ideal to make homemade butter. Heavy cream will also hold firm peaks when whipped.

Though quite rare to find, Double Cream has a 48% butterfat content and can be whipped and is also used in pies and sauces.

Clotted Cream or Devonshire Cream

Clotted cream is a thick, rich, yellowish cream with a consistency similar to soft butter. It is made through a process that starts by slowly heating unpasteurized whole milk to produce a very high-fat (55%) product. The milk is then cooled and the layer of cream is skimmed off. It is delicious on scones or desserts. Clotted cream is produced commercially in Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset England. In the States it is sold in small jars and can be found in specialty food stores or through mail order catalogs.

Creme Fraiche

is a matured, thickened cream that has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture produced by culturing pasteurized cream with a special bacteria. The thickness can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room temperature margarine. The butterfat content varies (usually 30%) as there is no set standard, so you will find every brand tastes a little different.

Cooking with Creme Fraiche

It is used as a dessert topping (its tang is a perfect complement to sweet fruit) and in cooked sauces and soups, where it has the advantage of not curdling when boiled. Creme Fraiche can be found in specialty food stores and some grocery stores although it is quite expensive. To make your own, simply combine 1 cup heavy cream (preferably pasteurized, as ultra pasteurized will take much longer to thicken and will not taste as good) with 1 tablespoon buttermilk. Warm the cream to about 105 degrees F. Remove from heat and add the buttermilk. Allow the mixture to stand in a warm place, loosely covered, until thickened but still pourable. This can take anywhere from 8 to 36 hours, but taste every 6 hours. The creme fraiche is ready when it is thick with a slightly nutty sour taste. Refrigerate. Will keep up to a week in the refrigerator.

Whipped cream in a can contains cream, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and nitrous oxide, the propellant used to squirt it out of the cans. It has its uses in dessert preparation and topping, but is not recommended for cooking.

Whipped topping or dessert topping usually does not contain cream at all, or a very slight amount, but instead is a mixture of hydrogenated vegetable oils and various sugars. This is therefore not considered a dairy product.