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A dairy is a facility for the extraction and processing of animal milk -- mostly from cows, sometimes from buffalo, sheep, horses or goats -- for human consumption.

As an adjective, the word dairy describes milk-based products and processes, e.g dairy cattle, dairy goat. A dairy farm produces milk and a dairy factory processes it into a variety of dairy products.

Dairy Product
Dairy products are generally defined as foodstuffs produced from milk.They are usually high-energy-yielding food products. A production plant for such processing is called a dairy or a dairy factory. Raw milk for processing generally comes from cows, but occasionally from other mammals such as goats, sheep, water buffalo, yaks, or horses.

Types of Dairy Products

1)Milk, after optional homogenization, pasteurization, in several grades after standardization of the fat level
a)Cream, the fat skimmed off the top of milk or separated by machine-centrifuges

  • Sour cream, cream that has been fermented by the bacteria Streptococcus lactis and Leuconostoc citrovorum
  • Crème fraîche, slightly fermented cream.
  • Smetana, Central and Eastern European variety of sour cream.
  • Clotted cream, thick spoonable cream made by heating

b)Cultured buttermilk, fermented concentrated (water removed) milk using the same bacteria as sour cream
c)Milk powder (or powdered milk), produced by removing the water from milk

  • Whole milk & buttermilk
  • Skim milk
  • Cream
  • High milk-fat & nutritional powders (for infant formulas)
  • Cultured and confectionery powders

d)Condensed milk, milk which has been concentrated by evaporation, often with sugar added for longer life in an opened can
e)Evaporated milk, (less concentrated than condensed) milk without added sugar
f)Ricotta cheese, milk heated and reduced in volume, known in Indian cuisine as Khoa
g)Infant formula, dried milk powder with specific additives for feeding human infants

 2)Butter, mostly milk fat, produced by churning cream

  • Buttermilk, the liquid left over after producing butter from cream, often dried as livestock food
  • Ghee, clarified butter, by gentle heating of butter and removal of the solid matter
  • Anhydrous milkfat

  3)Cheese, produced by coagulating milk, separating from whey and letting it ripen, generally with bacteria and sometimes also with certain molds

  • Curds, the soft curdled part of milk (or skim milk) used to make cheese (or casein)
  • Whey, the liquid drained from curds and used for further processing or as a livestock food
  • Cottage cheese
  • Quark
  • Cream cheese, produced by the addition of cream to milk and then curdled to form a rich curd or cheese made from skim milk with cream added to the curd
  • Fromage frais


  • Caseinates
  • Milk protein concentrates and isonates
  • Whey protein concentrates and isonates
  • Hydrolysates
  • Mineral concentrates

5)Yogurt, milk fermented by Streptococcus salivarius ssp. thermophilus and Lactobacillus delbrueckii ssp. bulgaricus sometimes with additional bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Ayran
  • Lassi

 6)Gelato, slowly frozen milk and water

 7)Ice cream, slowly frozen cream and emulsifying additives

  • Ice milk
  • Frozen custard
  • Frozen yogurt, yogurt with emulsifiers that is frozen


  • Kumis/Airag, slightly fermented mares' milk popular in Central Asia
  • Viili
  • Kajmak
  • Kephir
  • Filmjölk
  • Piimä
  • Vla
  • Dulce de leche

India's Traditional Dairy Products
From burfi to kulfi, from kalakand to shrikhand, from gulabjamun to chumchum extends the delectable world of Indian milk delicacies.This article brings together information culled from diverse sources on age-old, milk-based specialties from different regions. Also included is information culled from diverse sources on the Indian milk-based sweets and other specialties from different regions of the country.

Since time immemorial, a significant proportion of milk has been used in India for preparing a wide variety of dairy delicacies — an unending array of sweets and other specialties from different regions of the country. In the process, the basic limitation of milk — its perishable nature — has been tastefully overcome. Its processing aims to extend the shelf-life of milk, while converting it into mouth-watering tit-bits. Thus, diverse methods to prepare as well as preserve milk products have been developed. An estimated 50 to 55 per cent of the milk produced in India is converted into a variety of traditional milk products, using processes such as coagulation (heat and/or acid), desiccation and fermentation. Over the millennia, these processes have largely remained unchanged, being in the hands of halwais, the traditional sweetmeat makers, who form the core of this cottage industry.
Although 46% of the milk produced in the country is consumed as liquid milk, increase in consumption can be stimulated. Milk plays an important role in the national diet. In Indian households, the life of milk is extended from 12 to 24 hours by repeated boiling. It is preserved by souring with the aid of lactic cultures, which imparts an acid taste, particularly refreshing in hot climate.


The first of these products developed was dahi (curds or yogurt), obtained by fermenting milk. In the process, the digestibility of milk constituents improves.The product is widely consumed along with meals.  The surplus dahi is used as the intermediate product and churned into makkhan (butter), while the liquid whey — chhach or mattha— is consumed as a refreshing beverage or converted into kadhi, a spicy dish served hot with rice.

Nutritional Benefits
 When food is supplemented with 250 gms of dahi a day, the status of thiamine improves. Dahi also increases the pyruvic and lactic acids among children on a typical poor rice diet. Due to fermentation of milk, a greater amount of phosphorus and calcium is made available to the digestive system by their precipitation in the lower intestines due to the acid condition induced by Lactobacillus sp. The consumption of sour milk also results in increased efficiency of the human body to cope with a sudden influx of lactic acid in the system. Dahi can also be consumed by people who suffer from lactose intolerance. Thus, dahi in its different forms as lassi, kadhi, shrikhand, etc. also contributes significantly to improve the nutritive contents of an average Indian diet.
Ghee & Makkhan
A week's collection of makkhan(butter) is converted into ghee. Dahi has a shelf-life of a day or two; makkhan, a week; and ghee, about a year. Ghee, thus, became the main dairy product for extended preservation. A system of collection of ghee from villages for trade gradually developed. Ghee mandis (trading centers) have been in existence for centuries. India produces some 900,000 tonnes of ghee, valued at Rs 85,000 million.The value of the resultant lassi is Rs 25,000 million.

For most uses, the wholesome flavor of ghee is its chief attraction. For table use, it is served in melted form and mixed with rice or lightly spread on chappatis. It is widely used for shallow frying and deep frying of food. Innumerable Indian sweetmeats based on cereals, milk solids, fruits and vegetables are cooked, by preference, in ghee.

Butter-milk is a by-product in the preparation of makkhan. It is estimated that about 55 kg of butter-milk is produced for every kg of ghee. While most of it is consumed by villagers and their families, some quantity is either given away or fed to cattle. The reason for this is lack of any market for it in rural areas. Butter-milk is rich in milk protein and calcium, and forms a nutritive and refreshing beverage.

Nutritional Benefits
Makkhan and ghee contribute as much as one-third of the fat in the Indian diet. Ghee is produced mainly for consumption directly as food and as an ingredient of food preparations including sweets. Over the centuries, people have cultivated a liking for the aroma and flavor of ghee and prefer it over vegetable oils, the other traditional cooking medium. The vegetarian habits of many Indians preclude from their diet animal fats such as tallow or lard, used in the West. Thus, ghee forms an important source of fat in the vegetarian diet. Ghee and makkhan are important sources of vitamins A, D, E and K. They also contain small amounts of essential fatty acids such as arachidonic and linoleic. Considerable losses of Vitamin A and carotene can occur during cooking, the latter being more rapid. Below 125°C, Vitamin A is fairly stable, but above this temperature it is rapidly destroyed. Some 10-20 per cent of carotene is lost during the normal cooking operations.

Khoa & Chhana
One major milk product in common use is khoa, obtained by rapidly evaporating milk in shallow pans to a total solids of about 70 per cent and capable of being preserved as such for several days. It is used as an ingredient in making different kinds of traditional mithais (sweets) such as peda, burfi and gulabjamun. Some 900,000 tonnes of khoa valued at Rs 45,000 million is produced in the  country.

Yet another milk product of significance is chhana, a product of acid coagulation of hot milk and draining out of whey. It is used in preparing different kinds of sweets such as rasagollas. As they are especially popular in the Eastern region, they are called Bengali sweets. Approximately 1,200,000 tonnes of chhana, valued at Rs 6,000 million is produced in India.

The value of khoa and chhana produced is probably twice the value of all milk handled by the organized sector in the country. The traditional dairy products sector in India, like its agricultural counterpart, is grossly undermanaged. It, however, provides economic opportunities that even the Western dairy world would be envious of. The value of khoa and chhana-based sweets could possibly exceed Rs 130,000 million.

India's high-value, high-volume market for traditional dairy products and delicacies is all set to boom further under the technology of mass production. This market is the largest in value after liquid milk and is estimated at US $3 billion in India and US $1 billion overseas.

Dairy Plants

  • ATE Enterprises Limited
  • Alfa Laval (India) Ltd
  • DeLaval Ltd
  • Chengalva Engineers Ltd
  • Filtron Engineers Ltd
  • Indian Dairy Machinery Co Ltd
  • Indo Stainless Fabtech (Pvt) Ltd
  • Jektron Engineers Pvt Ltd
  • Kim Engineers Pvt Ltd
  • Larsen & Toubro Ltd
  • Praj Industries Ltd
  • Procon Engineers & Consultants
  • Siebe India Pvt Ltd
  • Tetra Pak India Ltd
  • Unicorn Machinery Manufacturers Ltd.

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