Is the white stuff made from almonds and soy beans really milk?

Mylk taste test

Popular alternative milks are subjected to the discerning taste buds of a gelati maker, a barista, a sommelier and a chef.

I hate bloody wellness people calling white stuff made from almonds and soy beans milk. It is wrong, isn't it? Tell me I am right. M. Stabbs

The English noun "milk" comes to us from the Saxon invaders. They used the word "milc" as a verb. It meant "to rub off" and later "to milk". Similar verbs were used across Northern Europe to describe the act of milking. This verb became the English noun "milk" used to describe the white liquid from a cow's udder. By the 1300s, however, the same noun was used to describe the white sap oozing from plants such as the milk thistle. The common lettuce has the botanic name Lactuca sativa, the "lact" part of the first word describing the bitter milky juice that oozes from the stems. So there is precedence for material other than cow's milk being called "milk". This did not stop 36 members of the United States Congress writing to the US Federal Department of Agriculture asking for a ban on using the word "milk" for anything other than moo juice, stating that consumers may be confused about where the product comes from.

I am making apricot jam and wanted to add some of the apricot kernels but I heard that they contain small amounts of cyanide. How many kernels are safe? D. R. Song

Be careful not to use too many kernels in apricot jam.
Be careful not to use too many kernels in apricot jam. Photo: Shutterstock

Have you been binge-watching Midsomer Murders and are now thinking of bumping someone off in a convoluted plot full of twists and very uptight white people? Yes, apricot kernels do contain a compound called amygdalin, which is a cyanogenic glycoside. When it hits the acids in the stomach it releases hydrogen cyanide, causing discomfort or illness. It can be fatal. The Australian Food Safety Information Council recommends you consume no more than three kernels a day for adults and none for children. Different types of apricot kernels have different levels of amygdalin so if you're in doubt, leave them out.

Letters

Last year we gave a few tips on how to cook corn on the cob on the barbecue without burning the corn. G. Mitchell came up with this suggestion. "An easy way to stop corn kernels being burned is to leave the cob husk on. Fully immerse the freshly picked corn in a bucket of water for 30 minutes and then cook on the grill, turning when the husks start to char. Continue this process until all the outside is burned. Return it to the bucket of water for a minute and then place in the grill again, turning until outside is dry. To shuck the corn, hold the base with an oven glove and peel back the husks by gripping with paper towel to prevent burning your hand. Watch out for steam during this process."

Barbecued corn with chipotle mayo.
Barbecued corn with chipotle mayo. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @Realbrainfood.

Brain Food by Richard Cornish is out now from MUP (RRP $19.99, eBook $11.99).