Life question: why is the milk white and the cheese yellow?
Life question: why is the milk white and the cheese yellow?
Why does white milk make yellow butter and cheese?

Why does white milk make yellow butter and cheese? To put it simply, the two colors have different sources. White comes from the scattering of light, while yellow comes from β-carotene.

cows ingest carotene from their food, and these fat-soluble pigments appear in the fat part of milk. The milk itself is not very yellow (in fact, you can see a little bit), this is because the milk fat containing pigment is dispersed in a large amount of water. The white we see comes from the scattering of light. To be exact, one of the main components of scattered light is the micellar structure formed by casein.

(a simple diagram of the structure of casein micelles. Casein is the most abundant protein in milk. the micelle structure formed by casein and calcium phosphate is dispersed in milk. these small particles are about 150 nm in diameter. Picture from: CompoundInterest)

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when making butter and cheese, a large amount of water is removed from the milk, and the color of the carotene in the fat is highlighted. The yellow color of cheese varies according to the food and processing of the cow. Generally speaking, grazing cattle eat more carotene and produce more yellow dairy products. Unlike milk, goats, buffaloes and sheep all lack β-carotene in their milk. As a result, cheese made from goat milk or buffalo milk looks whiter.

however, many times the color of the final product on the supermarket shelf actually depends on manual addition. Many people prefer cheese products with golden yellow or even orange-red color, and producers will naturally cater to this. There are many kinds of pigments that are artificially added to these dairy products, and adding β-carotene with the same ingredients as milk is certainly an easy way to understand. in addition, red pigments such as carmine are also a common choice.

here is a cheese stick with carotene:

and a cheese cake with carmine:

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