Milk consists of three parts, namely caseous, butyrous, and serous. The first comprehends the grosser earthy particles, which serve to suspend the butyrous part; and which, when coagulated by art, are formed into Cheese. The second ingredient comprises the butyrace-ous or oily particles, or cream, which float on the surface of milk, and are by agitation converted into Butter. The serous are the more watery parts, constituting what is called Whey, and serving as a vehicle for the two before stated.— The most wholesome milk is that which contains a due proportion of the three constituent parts.
Having already discussed the qualities, as well as the methods of preparing Butter, Buttermilk, and Cheese, under those respective heads, we shall briefly consider the properties of milk, afforded by different animals, as an article of food.
The milk of women, mares, and asses, nearly agree in their qualities, being very dilute, sweet, though acescent, and, when coagulated, easily broken down. That of cows, goats, and sheep, possess properties widely different. Of these, cows'-milk approaches nearest to that yielded by the female breast. But the milk obtained from goats, is of a peculiar nature; as its oily and coagulable parts do not separate spontaneously, throw up no cream, and yield no butter. That of sheep is rich and nourishing; produces abundance of butter, but which is so unpalatable as to render it unfit to be eaten. Both these fluids afford a large proportion of strong and tough cheese.
Cows' milk forms a very essential part of human sustenance, being adapted to every state and age of the body, but particularly to infants, after being weaned. It should, therefore, be drawn from sound,young,and healthy animals; as it is most nutritious, when these are between three and four years old.—Good milk is perfectly white, and totally divested of smell. As, however, it contains a great portion of the fatty or oily particles, known under the name of cream, it ought always to be diluted with water, before it is given to children.— But, to scorbutic persons, or those troubled with inveterate ulcers, it will be found of great benefit, in a pure, undiluted state; as it combines both saccharine and oleaginous particles.
From its balsamic nature, milk promotes the different evacuations, especially insensible perspiration: in a serous or diluted state, it has often afforded considerable relief in obstinate coughs; in disorders induced by worms, hysterics, the putrid sore-throat, the gout, and stone, and various other diseases, with which mankind are afflicted. But, if a person be debilitated, or otherwise exhausted by sickness, milk ought by no means to be used; as it is apt to generate cramps or violent spasms in the stomach, the heart-burn, etc. Corpulent and plethoric persons ; those who are recovering from febrile complaints ; and particularly such as are accustomed to drink wine, and spirituous liquors, cannot with advantage or safety adopt a milk-diet ; because the fatty and viscid properties of that fluid tend to oppress the stomach, and occasion indigestion.—When milk is used medicinally, it ought to be taken as speedily as possible after it has been drawn from the cow; for its most nourishing and attenuating particles exhale, if it be boiled, or even for a short time exposed to the air.
Lastly, if milk be suffered to become sour, it cannot be easily digested : and, though it is in that state unfit to serve as an article of beverage, its utility does not cease. There is a liquor, distilled from acid milk, butter-milk, or whey, which is asserted to be a valuable menstruum in the preparation of colours.
Milk being of such extensive utility, both as food and medicine, our readers will probably expect some account of such vegetables as are calculated to increase the quantity of that sweet and wholesome fluid. One of the most effectual methods consists in giving cows, every morning, decoctions of the richest and most fragrant species of clover, and especially of lu-cern. —This subject has already been concisely discussed under the arti-cle Cattle (vol. i. p. 459) ; and, as we stare the lactiferous plants in their alphabetical order, it would be superfluous to repeat them in this place :—they will also, be registered in the General Index of Reference.—But we cannot omit to animadverton the culpable filthi-ness in which cows are confined, both in the metropolis, and in its vicinity, where these useful animals are literally crammed, not with wholesome food, but with such matters as are calculated to produce an abundance of milk. This unnatural practice, however, would in some degree be venial, if that milk were vended in a pure state. It is, indeed, a notorious which we think our duty to state, that vessels both of hot and cold water, are always kept in the cow or milk-houses, for the a commodation of mercenary retailers. These persons purchase a tain quantity of unadulterated milk, and at a low price; but, as each must make his or hep profit, they mix with it such a proportion of water as they may think necessary to make their milk of a suffi-cient.standard ; when it is hawked about at the present exorbitant price.—Circumstances of this fraudulent complexion ought to be more generaliy known; and we trus the vigilance of the police will soon beextended to the suppression of practices and abuses, equally bold and iniquitous.
Skimmed milk, is that which remains after the cream has been taken off its surface. It is often sold for new milk, and employed in considerable quantities by wine-merchants, for the purpose of clarifying, or fining down turbid white wines, arrack, and weak spirits ; but it should not be used for red wines, as it discharges their colour.—This kind of milk is also useful for whitening such wines, as have acquired a brown tint, either from the cask, or in consequence of having been boiled, before they had undergone the vinous fermentation. In such cases, a little skimmed milk precipitates the colour, leaving the wine almost limpid, and of a pleasant flavour.— A fluid of such harmless nature is in every respect preferable to the noxious matters, with which avaricious vintners poison their turbid or damaged wines.
The Milk of the Female Breast is frequently very troublesome to delicate women, and .subjects them to many disorders. The more common of these are :
1. Deficiency of this nourishing fluid, which is often occasioned by the indulgence of anger, or other passion ; worms: or intestinal complaints. Those who are advanced in years, before they become mothers, are particularly liable to this complaint, which is likewise induced by poor aliment, or some constitutional defect in the fluids. If the latter cause-be obvious, it will be advise-able to administer absorbent powders ; but, if it originate from parsimonious living, the patient's diet ought to consist of rich cows' milk, and light nourishing food. Should, however such deficiency be also-late, and the breasts be totally de-void of this salutary fluid, the only method of preserving the infant's life will be, to procure a careful, healthy wet-nurse.
2. Excess, or evident abundance ,of milk, occurs as frequently as the contrary; and requires the greatest attention; for, otherwise, inflammation and abscesses in the breast may be the consequence. Hence the patient should live sparingly, and suckle two infants, with a view to diminish the too rapid flow of milk.
3. The Milk-fever, one of the most alarming diseases of females, is sometimes occasioned by terror, taking cold, etc. though it is more frequently induced from a false, principle of delicacy, by neglecting to put the infant to the breast. It occurs, in general, a few days after delivery, and requires to be treated with the utmost precaution. To check its progress, it will be necessary to resort to camphorated clysters, gentle evacuations, and embrocations of linseed and similar emollient oils. The infant ought, likewise, to be put frequently to the breast; and, if no relief be thus obtained, they should be drawn, either by means of the small air-pump, or some expert person. The patient's diet ought to be light and cooling; but, if the fever prove violent, and be accompanied with putrid symptoms, it will be advise-able to administer Peruvian bark liberally, and to obviate costive-ness, by gentle laxatives.—One of the most effectual preventives of this fever is, to place the infant to the breast as early as possible ; a practice which cannot be too strongly recommended ; as the life, or at least the health, of many valuable mothers might be spared, if such method were more generally followed. The apartment ought to be carefully aired; and, if the breasts abound with milk, at the commencement of the fever, they should be occasionally drawn: thus, that fluid might effectually be prevented from acquiring an unnatural acrimony, or from being absorbed, while in a corrupted state.
Violent passions and affections of the, mind must be studiously avoided by those who suckle children; for, such irregularities not only lay, the foundation of the most painful disorders in mothers or nurses, but also injure the innocent babes, by inducing painful, and often fatal diarrhoeas. In every instance, after sudden fright, or a fit of passion, it will be advisable to squeeze, or gently agitate the breasts, in order to discharge the redundant milk, before the infant be permitted to suck.—Lastly, if the breasts become turgid, and there be an apprehension of the milk coagulating in them, shortly after parturition, it will be requisite to present them to the infant; provided it be sufficiently strong : in the contrary case, another child or adult should draw them, and thus diminish the superfluous and hurtful part.