Stop pouring away your sour milk! Here’s how to use it up

Taking one of the most thrown-away ingredients in the UK – milk – we bring you 4 brilliantly tasty ways to use it up and save it from going down the plughole.

Excess milk can be used to make paneer cheese with just a few simple steps. Equally, past-its-prime sour milk is a great ingredient, in marinades, as a buttermilk substitute in baking, as we explain below…

Stop pouring away your sour milk! Here’s how to use it up

How to check if milk is still okay to use

Milk will often last longer than the use-by date and your nose is the best tool for checking. Don’t throw it, though – you can still use sour milk in cooking.

If you regularly waste the end of the carton or bottle, consider how you store it. The fridge door is the warmest spot, so keep it on a shelf instead – as long as the top is secure. And if you know you’re not going to use it all, freeze the rest before the use-by date, defrosting in the fridge when ready to use. Make sure there’s a little space in the bottle for the freezing liquid to expand.

Ways to use up sour milk

Make a white sauce
It takes only 15 minutes to knock up a batch of white sauce, and you can add water or stock at the end if you don’t have quite enough leftover milk. It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Make a marvellous marinade
Milk is great for marinating chicken, pork or fish. If you have just a small amount to use up, put it in an airtight container with some spices and the uncooked meat or fish. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 24 hours. The milk will impart delicate flavour and reduce intensely fishy smells – if the milk is slightly sour, the acidity will help tenderise the protein too.

Murgh malai tikka

Use it instead of buttermilk or milk in sweet recipes
Buttermilk is hard to find, and sour milk makes a great substitute. Scones and fluffy pancakes are quick and freeze well. Defrost scones at room temperature or by warming through in the oven. Keep pancakes in portions in freezer bags, then toast or pan-fry from frozen for an easy breakfast or sweet treat.


Make your own paneer

If you have a large amount of milk to use up (at least 2 pints but ideally 4 or 6), turn it into cheese. Paneer is a fresh cheese, easily made with some heat and acid. It will give you an extra 2 or 3 days to use what would otherwise be wasted.


Gently bring the milk to the boil in a large pan, stirring regularly to prevent it catching. Once boiling, add enough lemon juice to get it to split. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 30 minutes – this will help the curds separate from the whey. Strain through a muslin-lined colander, catching the whey in a bowl. Twist the muslin to squeeze out any remaining liquid. Once cool, chill the curds, sitting a plate and something heavy on top to press them down.

After an hour you could stir-fry the paneer with spices and veg to fill samosas or to make scrambled paneer (known as paneer bhurji). Or leave it overnight so it’s firm enough to cut into cubes and fry. Find our favourite paneer recipes here.

How to use the resulting whey

Use the leftover cooled whey in smoothies for a natural protein boost, in place of coconut cream in a delicious pina colada. You can also cook your rice in it for a flavour boost, use it in baking instead of buttermilk – and even water your plants with it, for some extra nutrients.

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