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  #1  
Old 09-01-2011, 05:57 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Can people tell the difference between skim and whole milk?

They taste identical to me, but I know many people prefer one to the other on grounds of taste.

Is there research out there showing that some people can reliably make the distinction?

My wife says she much prefers 1% to 2% based on how they taste. Can people really reliably make that distinction?
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  #2  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:14 AM
Aspidistra Aspidistra is offline
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Are you drinking it, or just putting it in your coffee?

Seriously, I can't imagine not being able to tell the difference. It's like "can you tell the difference between milk and cream?"
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  #3  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:15 AM
rhubarbarin rhubarbarin is offline
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I could ace a blind taste test (pretty sure I could tell skim from 1% and 2% too, not sure about the latter two from each other). Not only do they taste quite different because of the fat content, they have an entirely different mouthfeel and consistency.

I used to beg my mom when I was little to buy the whole milk I preferred, she insisted on 2% which wasn't half as good.
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  #4  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:18 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Uh, yes. This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke. Skim milk is watery compared to whole.
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  #5  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:21 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
They taste identical to me, but I know many people prefer one to the other on grounds of taste.

Is there research out there showing that some people can reliably make the distinction?

My wife says she much prefers 1% to 2% based on how they taste. Can people really reliably make that distinction?
Sounds to me like you've already done the research yourself. Why are you asking us? Do you not believe your wife and other acquaintances?

Okay, maybe the above was a bit snarky, and I apologize. I guess you're trying to take a poll of how common it is to tell the difference. Personally, I have trouble telling the difference between 1% and 2%. I can easily tell the difference between whole and skim, and I like the whole better, but it is not enough of a difference to override skim's health benefits.
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  #6  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:21 AM
Mosier Mosier is offline
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Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:24 AM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhubarbarin View Post
I could ace a blind taste test (pretty sure I could tell skim from 1% and 2% too, not sure about the latter two from each other). Not only do they taste quite different because of the fat content, they have an entirely different mouthfeel and consistency.

I used to beg my mom when I was little to buy the whole milk I preferred, she insisted on 2% which wasn't half as good.
Yes, I can tell the difference between cream, whole milk, and lowfat/skim milk. Part of it is taste, and part of it is mouthfeel. Lowfat and skim milk taste and feel more like water than milk.
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Old 09-01-2011, 06:49 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
Uh, yes. This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke. Skim milk is watery compared to whole.

If you're used to skim milk, then whole milk seems like paint in comparison. It even looks different when you pour it on your cereal or in a glass.
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  #9  
Old 09-01-2011, 06:52 AM
bengangmo bengangmo is online now
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Growing up one of the places I lived was a dairy farm. Used to have milk direct from vat. Now all I get is crap with three week shelf life low fat. Between whole and low fat there is a huge diff. Between long shelf life and what I used to drink is huge diff. I won't drink the current colored water we get.
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  #10  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:36 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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They taste very different, and even the feeling they give in the mouth is very different.
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  #11  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:44 AM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bengangmo View Post
Growing up one of the places I lived was a dairy farm. Used to have milk direct from vat. Now all I get is crap with three week shelf life low fat. Between whole and low fat there is a huge diff. Between long shelf life and what I used to drink is huge diff. I won't drink the current colored water we get.
Who needs pasturazation? Straight from the vat; those were the days! I remember having to shake the bottle (yes we used glass bottles) in order to mix the cream on top with the rest of the milk. My mom always sent a gallon or two with me when I went back to college every week and my roommate gained eight pounds one semester because he used to just suck up the cream on top.
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  #12  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:45 AM
eclectic wench eclectic wench is offline
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Totally different. Even in tea. Occasionally I've put Widget's whole milk into my tea by mistake, instead of our 2.5% (the cartons look the same, except one has a green flash and one has a blue), and I knew the second I tasted it. If you're used to semi-skimmed, then whole milk feels like it coats your tongue.

A few weeks back they switched our brand of semi-skimmed from 2.5% to 1% - I didn't notice the writing on the carton, but again, I knew something was weird as soon as I tasted it. It tasted like I'd somehow put water in my tea.
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  #13  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:45 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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? You can't tell? Like folks have said, you can see the difference. I will tolerate skim in oatmeal, but I have to have at least 1% on cereal. I much prefer 2% though.

Not sure if I've ever had whole, but I imagine it does look like paint compared to skim.
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  #14  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:46 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Once I bought 1% milk by mistake and could tell it was not the 2% milk I thought I had bought. I can also taste the difference between non-pulp orange juice from concentrate versus non-pulp orange juice from concentrate with added calcium.
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  #15  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:48 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
Yep. Taste, appearance, and mouth feel are all different. They may even smell different, I'll have to do a test. The senses would be unanimous if whole and skim made different sounds.
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  #16  
Old 09-01-2011, 07:53 AM
Canadjun Canadjun is offline
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Everybody's different so I am not saying it's impossible, but I have real difficulty believing that somebody could not tell the difference between whole milk and skim milk. I'm not sure I could tell the difference between 1% and 2%, but I can tell the difference between whole and 1% or 2% and between those and skim. The consistency of skim is (to me) radically different from any of the others and I don't like it at all.
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  #17  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:00 AM
Max the Immortal Max the Immortal is offline
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Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
Yeah, when you're accustomed to 2%, skim looks slightly bluish; my guess is that it's slightly translucent and catches the light strangely. Skim also tastes a lot like powdered milk when you're not used to it.
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  #18  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:34 AM
Enderw24 Enderw24 is offline
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I can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, though I would agree that both probably taste the same in a bowl of cereal.
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  #19  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:37 AM
Brown Eyed Girl Brown Eyed Girl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
And what good would that do you in a blind taste test?

http://youtu.be/U8K9caTKrbo
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  #20  
Old 09-01-2011, 08:58 AM
kanicbird kanicbird is offline
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IIRC Whole milk is 3.7%, so going from whole to 2% is about a 25% loss of a ingredient, just like in recipes, some ingredients you can leave out with out much effect, others are noticeable, and reducing one of those by 1/4 or 1/2 can make the product quite different.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhubarbarin View Post
I used to beg my mom when I was little to buy the whole milk I preferred, she insisted on 2% which wasn't half as good.
Sorry, I feel for you.
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  #21  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:01 AM
redtail23 redtail23 is offline
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Absolutely. It took me *years* to get used to drinking 2% (I grew up drinking unhomogenized whole milk). I still can't manage 1%.
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  #22  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:07 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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When I was a kid at day camp they'd hand out the ltttle wax-cardboard containers of milk. No comparison, everyone called the skim stuff "dishwater" it was so weak. I can tell if I use 2% instead of my typical 1% nowadays on cereal. Real mik (3.5%)? No contest, easy to tell.
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  #23  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:08 AM
lazybratsche lazybratsche is offline
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There's 8 or 9 grams of milk fat in an 8 oz cup of milk. Wouldn't you notice if someone took your favorite drink (tea, coffee, juice, soda, whatever) and blended in a pat of butter?
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  #24  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:12 AM
D_Odds D_Odds is offline
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Just to chime in, it is an entirely different consistency, mouth-feel, and taste due to the fat content. As I am watching my fat intake, I forced myself to accept skim (by gradually going from whole to 2% to 1.5% to 1% to skim - can't find 1.5% anymore). I keep 2% for most cooking applications that call for whole milk and for my coffee (down from half&half). I'd rather drink black coffee than coffee with skim. For oatmeal, cereal, and other applications, I've reluctantly taught myself to accept skim.
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  #25  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:12 AM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Honestly this is like asking if there is any study that proves people can tell the difference between beef and lamb.

Many grew up with whole and now resentfully drink skim for health considerations. Those of us who were raised on skim gag when we are faced with drinking whole.

My wife grew up on whole and loves a product available out east called "Skim plus", which seems to be partially evaporated skim milk, or at least skim milk with extra evaporated skim milk added (same difference) - ends up as the same calories as whole but those calories contain much more protein and much less fat, and it gives her the mouthfeel that she misses. They don't seem to sell it near us though; she had it at her mom's.
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  #26  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:29 AM
Mijin Mijin is online now
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This would have made a great poll...
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  #27  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:31 AM
Bartman Bartman is offline
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Just another data point here, but yes Frylock to me they taste significantly different. If I had skim, 1%, 2%, and whole in blind taste test containers I am 100% confident I could easily tell the difference by taste alone.
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  #28  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:35 AM
smithsb smithsb is offline
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So far, nothing but anecdotes and personal claims. Not being snarky, but where are the double-blind taste tests, or visual tests? Not playing James Randi here but a lot of this is like audiophiles claiming to hear a differenct in speaker wires. It doesn't stand up to testing.

I can't belive the government or industry hasn't sponsored research in this area.
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  #29  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:37 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
If you're used to skim milk, then whole milk seems like paint in comparison. It even looks different when you pour it on your cereal or in a glass.
Yup. There's a layer of transparency on the surface of skim milk.
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  #30  
Old 09-01-2011, 09:41 AM
panache45 panache45 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
This. They look different and taste different. It doesn't matter whether I'm drinking it or using it in my coffee. I used to use half & half in my coffee, then I gradually weaned myself to whole milk, then to 2%. I can't go any further; when I put 1% or skim in my coffee, it tastes very similar to black coffee.
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  #31  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:04 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by Keeve View Post
Sounds to me like you've already done the research yourself. Why are you asking us? Do you not believe your wife and other acquaintances?
You are obviously correct: I don't believe her. (And I've never discussed it with other acquaintances.)

Rather than go out and buy two kinds of milk (one of which she doesn't like, if she's indeed right that she can tell the difference) and confronting her with a demand for a taste test, I've decided to satisfy my curiosity not by polling the dope (as you suggested) but asking if this has actually been tested and shown to be true in some verifiable way.
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  #32  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:06 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Lots of anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims here here... my anecdote is:

When I was poor, I was at the WIC office and they were doing a taste-test demonstration of people's general inability to make the distinction between skim and whole. The demonstration seemed quite convincing--people's chances of getting it right throughout the day had been about fifty fifty.

But maybe they had the milks mixed up, or maybe one was older than the other, or maybe refrigeration levels are important, or something.

I'm looking for hard data, if it exists.

ETA BTW my wife failed that taste test. But like I said it was far from a rigorous test.

Last edited by Frylock; 09-01-2011 at 10:09 AM..
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  #33  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:07 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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We keep both a gallon of skim milk and a gallon of 2% in our fridge, and it's easy to tell the difference just by how it looks when you pour it. 2% is much thicker.

I grew up on whole milk, which I still love but rarely drink because of the fat. But it's like drinking pure cream now that I'm not used to it. (It's wonderful!).
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  #34  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:09 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Lots of anecdotes and unsubstantiated claims here here... my anecdote is:

When I was poor, I was at the WIC office and they were doing a taste-test demonstration of people's general inability to make the distinction between skim and whole. The demonstration seemed quite convincing--people's chances of getting it right throughout the day had been about fifty fifty.

But maybe they had the milks mixed up, or maybe one was older than the other, or maybe refrigeration levels are important, or something.

I'm looking for hard data, if it exists.
I doubt you'll find any hard data. And I'm rather stunned that you can't tell the difference. Isn't your Wife's word, and those opinions here good enough? Why would the SDMB (or your Wife for that matter) lie to you?
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  #35  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:10 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AClockworkMelon View Post
This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke.
Coke and Pepsi taste quite different. Just sayin'.
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  #36  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:12 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
Coke and Pepsi taste quite different. Just sayin'.
Isn't that clockwork's point?
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  #37  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:13 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by enipla View Post
I doubt you'll find any hard data. And I'm rather stunned that you can't tell the difference. Isn't your Wife's word, and those opinions here good enough? Why would the SDMB (or your Wife for that matter) lie to you?
I don't think anyone is lying.
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  #38  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:16 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Best cite I can find so far (and it's not very good) says 56 percent of people tested could tell the difference. No details about how this was measured, though.

http://1milk-protein.com/
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  #39  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:19 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Isn't that clockwork's point?
The way I read it is this: 'This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke, [which taste virtually the same]. Whole milk and skim milk are entirely different.'

I say that Coke and Pepsi are immediately differentiated by taste.
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  #40  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:21 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock
don't think anyone is lying.
Umm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
<snip> I don't believe her. <snip>

<snip>Rather than go out and buy two kinds of milk (one of which she doesn't like, if she's indeed right that she can tell the difference) and confronting her with a demand for a taste test,<snip>
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock
When I was poor, I was at the WIC office and they were doing a taste-test demonstration of people's general inability to make the distinction between skim and whole. The demonstration seemed quite convincing--people's chances of getting it right throughout the day had been about fifty fifty.
I think this had to be rigged. I can't imagine that 50% couldn't tell the difference. It's night and day.

ETA, just saw your link. Hard to believe.

Last edited by enipla; 09-01-2011 at 10:23 AM..
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  #41  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:21 AM
Skammer Skammer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
The way I read it is this: 'This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke, [which taste virtually the same]. Whole milk and skim milk are entirely different.'

I say that Coke and Pepsi are immediately differentiated by taste.
Yes but I think the point is that whole and skim milk are even more dissimilar than Coke & Pepsi.
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  #42  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:22 AM
Mijin Mijin is online now
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Well I think they're missing a marketing opportunity. They should brand skim milk as "I can't believe it's not whole milk"</snark>

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
When I was poor, I was at the WIC office and they were doing a taste-test demonstration of people's general inability to make the distinction between skim and whole.
...
BTW my wife failed that taste test.
This conveniently explains both the initial question and why you didn't simply accept your wife's answer.
It's just strange you left it out of the OP...
</doublesnark>
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  #43  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:22 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
Isn't that clockwork's point?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny L.A. View Post
The way I read it is this: 'This isn't like comparing Pepsi and Coke, [which taste virtually the same]. Whole milk and skim milk are entirely different.'

I say that Coke and Pepsi are immediately differentiated by taste.
Johnny correctly read my meaning.
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  #44  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:26 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosier View Post
Not only can I taste the difference, I can SEE the difference.
Yep.

I wonder if there is much difference between the following:

1) a gallon of skim milk
2) a gallon of the following mixture: 3 parts whole milk, one part water
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  #45  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:26 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enipla View Post
Umm...
You really thinkg "I don't believe X" means the same thing as "I believe X is lying"?


Quote:
I think this had to be rigged. I can't imagine that 50% couldn't tell the difference. It's night and day.

ETA, just saw your link. Hard to believe.
Note that if the cited percentage is valid, it tends to support your (to some extent, anyway). It says the difference is strong enough that a little over half the people out there can tell the difference. Whereas I was asking whether it's even possible for anyone to tell the difference.
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  #46  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:26 AM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by smithsb View Post
So far, nothing but anecdotes and personal claims. Not being snarky, but where are the double-blind taste tests, or visual tests? Not playing James Randi here but a lot of this is like audiophiles claiming to hear a differenct in speaker wires. It doesn't stand up to testing.

I can't belive the government or industry hasn't sponsored research in this area.
"Cite please?" Really? Okay then.
Quote:
during homogenization and separation, this membrane is altered and destroyed decreasing the surface area lipase requires as a fat-water surface for activity. All of these functional properties are lost with the removal of the milk fat globule membrane with the milk fat during the separation stages of the milk process. Therefore, lowfat milks do not have the creamy and thick texture evident in whole milk as described previously (Saba et al., 1998; Phillips et al., 1995b).
Flavor is also an important sensory characteristic. Nonfat milk drinkers recognize
that nonfat and lowfat milk products are less satisfying and versatile then whole milk, but are willing to sacrifice this lack of flavor for the health and nutritional benefits that come along with lower fat consumption (Miles et al., 1995). Fat enhances the flavor of whole milk by contributing naturally occurring flavor compounds that are removed from milk when fat is removed (Phillips et al., 1995b). Flavor descriptors used to describe lowfat milk include astringent, bitter, and cooked (Phillips et al., 1995b). Whole milk
descriptors include buttery, sweet, salty and oxidized. The sweet and salty flavor comes from naturally occurring sugars and salts in milk such as lactones and minerals. Various aldehydes contribute to an oxidized flavor. Astringent and bitter flavors result from the nitrogen and sulfur compounds derived from the enzymatic breakdown of carbohydrates and protein compounds.
There have been several technological approaches to enhancing the sensory characterization of lowfat milk through formulations. These attempts have been made by using fat substitutes such as Litesse (Cultor, New York, NY) and Dairy Lo (Cultor, New York, NY), commercial fat substitutes, and also by formulating milk samples with nonfat dry milk (NDM) (Phillips and Barbano, 1997). When both NDM and fat substitutes were added to lowfat (2%) milk, samples were whiter and more viscous than lowfat milks without added ingredients based on sensory and analytical tests. Viscosity was increased also when NDM and fat substitutes were added ...
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  #47  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:28 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mijin View Post
Well I think they're missing a marketing opportunity. They should brand skim milk as "I can't believe it's not whole milk"</snark>



This conveniently explains both the initial question and why you didn't simply accept your wife's answer.
It's just strange you left it out of the OP...
</doublesnark>
Why is it strange? Since you called it "snark" it appears you think you've scored some point of some kind? A point in what game?
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  #48  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:33 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machine Elf View Post
If you're used to skim milk, then whole milk seems like paint in comparison. It even looks different when you pour it on your cereal or in a glass.
I've been drinking skim milk for so long that whole milk has an unpleasant stench to my taste.
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  #49  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:34 AM
enipla enipla is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frylock View Post
You really thinkg "I don't believe X" means the same thing as "I believe X is lying"?
Well, not to dwell on this, but if your Wife says she can tell the difference, why don't you believe her? I would say that you think she is lying.

Last edited by enipla; 09-01-2011 at 10:34 AM..
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  #50  
Old 09-01-2011, 10:35 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
"Cite please?" Really?
Well, yes--this is precisely what was asked for in the OP.

Do you think it is silly for anyone to ask for research on the topic? Well, the researchers who did research on the topic disagree! Take it up with them, I guess?

Quote:
Okay then.
Exactly what I was looking for, thanks.

I now see that there are indeed people who can tell the difference.

I am certain I can't tell the difference--but perhaps I'll go buy a couple of pints of differently-fatted milks later to test it out again.
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