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Variables of Texturing Milk.

In 2023, I had the opportunity to travel with Milklab, sharing my tips and tricks for texturing and pouring plant-based milks. I ran workshops at various trade shows such as MICE 2022, Food Service Australia, and Fine Foods. This is what we discussed.


Are you familiar with all the variables that you don't have control over in the environment when it comes to texturing milk?


The goal is to give people control over the amount of milk they pour and the amount of froth they can get, as well as how to control the jug. One of the biggest issues is that people are trained to make milk differently. This is what gave me the idea for this graph. With this graph, you can apply the theory of how milk is textured, no matter how strong your steam wand is or what machine you use.



There are two stages. The first stage is on the left side when we introduce the air into the jug. That's when we introduce micro-bubbles and determine how much froth we'll get in the cups. The scales on the graph determine where the steam tips are in relation to the jug vertically. The second stage is on the right side, when we texture the milk.


First Stage


I always let people know when I'm filling up jugs. I fill them up to where the notch of the jug starts. You can see on the graph, that's about halfway on every jug. It gives you a reference point every single time. This also helps with consistency.


For more froth, bring the tip closer to the surface or even out of the surface, depending on the steam wand. And for less froth, we enter the steam tip deeper into the jug or liquid. Key point: Deeper into the jug = less froth, closer to the surface = more froth. As you can see for silky latte art on a commercial machine, I am at 1.8 here.




When introducing the foam, we want to do it as quickly as possible. We need to make sure we get all the air introduced before the jug hits 30 degrees, or before it feels warm. No matter how strong or weak your wand is, this is where you decide how much or little froth you desire.


Where we position the jug in relation to the steam wand


If the wand is pointing straight down, that's going to be the most stable speed. Flat on the kink of the wand, coming down the spout, very straight. However, there's no wrong way to do it, but having it done this way gives you consistency on every single machine and every single jug. The moment you start to angle out the steamer, you will have less control and more speed. Tilting the jug will also increase the speed of the vortex, inevitably giving you less control over the jug. See ahead for the positions I teach.




Second Stage


Then we go to the other half of the graph, which is the second stage of texturing milk. All you need to do is spin the milk or texturize it – you hear these words all the time. We do that by creating a vortex, which breaks down the air bubbles we just introduced in the first stage. The faster and longer the vortex, the silkier your milk will be, especially good for latte art.


A, B, and C represent where you place the tip in relation to the jug from a bird's eye view


The difference between left and right is only really going to make a difference in which direction the milk spins. If you put the tip on the left side, it will spin counterclockwise. If you put it on the right side, it will spin clockwise. Positions A, B, and C = slow, medium, and fast. Based on the power of the steam, you decide where to place it. But for most commercial machines, you'll be safe starting at B (pictured).








Overflowing?


Have you ever accidentally filled up the jug too much, or added a touch too much air, and the jug is about to overflow? In this case, you place the steam wand on A and sink the tip to the bottom of the jug. It doesn't matter what machine you have, this just puts the brake on it. It's based on the way the wand shoots out steam. It will shoot into all four corners of the jug instead of being pushed to one side.



My tips for Milklab plant-based milks


When working with Milklab's varieties, I've found that these milks have been specifically made to be textured, and with these small adjustments, you can pour them just like any other milk. I would treat them just like fresh dairy, and make the following adjustments for the best results:


OAT: Add slightly more texture (froth) and pour it instantly.


SOY: Texture normally, let the milk settle for at least 30 seconds, then swirl before pouring. I like to texture before making shots for efficient workflow, and this will also help prevent the curdling of these milks.


For the rest of the plant-based options, I would not change my approach and just treat them like fresh dairy :)


Temperature


For me, the desired temperature for a latte is 60 degrees. There's no shame in using thermometers either. For plant-based milks, I don't like to go over 60 degrees, as it makes it a lot harder to create good latte art. Remember to add the desired foam into the milk before 30 degrees.


Thank you


I hope this has helped a bunch! The purpose and idea behind this graph is to give the user full control over the milk texturing process, no matter what their circumstances are. A huge thank you to Fabian Fritz for bringing my graph to life, and the team at MilkLab for giving me the platform to share my work around Australia this year.

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