Milk Frothers

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What is a frother?

Frothers convert fat-free milk into a rich foam or froth, which then can be placed over coffee in a variety of ways to create lattes, cappuccinos, and a host of other beverages. Several different types of frothers are on the market today, but the basic principles remain the same – for up to 20 seconds, a meshed plunger is repeatedly forced up and down in a container of cold milk. Nonfat milk yields the best froth.

Why should I use a frother instead of a steam wand?

There are many reasons to use a frother instead of the comparatively elaborate steam wand. First, the steam wand is always attached to a home espresso machine. Though the high-end machines are essential for making restaurant-quality espresso, some customers may not want to commit the dollars necessary for the pursuit of the perfect cup of espresso.

Second, frothers tend to create a more concentrated froth, while a steam wand mixes steam into the milk when it produces the foam, which in turn waters down the milk. But perhaps the best advantage is its easy maintenance – a frother is much simpler to maintain than is a steam wand. Finally, there’s the issue of convenience – most frothers are dishwasher safe, while a steam wand needs to be cleaned properly after each use to avoid becoming clogged.

What is the correct way to pour the froth in with the coffee?

Pour the froth into the coffee cup before adding the coffee. Since the coffee is then poured through the froth, this method produces a thoroughly mixed beverage. Those who like more milk in their coffee can pour the froth from the carafe right after pumping it. On the other hand, if a stronger beverage is desired, let the froth sit for about one minute. Doing so will cause the remaining liquid milk to drain down out of the froth, which then should be spooned out of the carafe. This technique tends to produce a thicker foam.

Are there certain features I should be seeking in a high-quality frother?

Though there are many different designs and styles of frothers, function should be considered before form.

With the beaker models, try to find a frother with a carafe made of borosilicate glass. This high-quality glass can withstand a temperature range from -22° to 986° F. Also, check to make sure that the plunger mechanism is flush to the edge of the glass. This will ensure that 100 percent of the milk is drawn through the mesh, yielding a tighter, thicker froth. The mesh itself should be crafted of stainless steel.

To enjoy rich froth anywhere by the cup, investigate frothers that are more portable than the glass beakers. These units actually froth milk while in the coffee cup. This convenience makes them ideal for home, office, or travel use and reduces the amount of wasted froth.

What types of frothers are available?

One type of frother is in a tall glass beaker with a plunger that is pumped up and down about 20 times to make creamy froth. For those people that feel that 20 pumps is too much work, the battery-powered frother is an option. A hand-held unit, it has a long stainless steel stem and disk. On a good battery­ powered frother, the stem and disk make about 20, 000 rotations per minute. This aerates the milk, yielding a thick, creamy froth that lasts for over an hour.

Is foam for coffee the only use for my frother?

The rich foam produced by a frother can be used in a multitude of other beverages. The foam made from nonfat milk brings a new dimension of texture to hot chocolate without adding any fat. Frothed milk also makes an ideal topping for fresh fruit, root beer floats, and frozen yogurt; it tastes decadent, yet has none of the fat of whipped cream.

The frother’s capabilities extend even further than beverage uses. Combine milk with vanilla extract and chocolate syrup before pumping, then place the resulting froth in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set. The result is a great low-fat chocolate mousse or dessert topping. Other combinations such as this can be experimented with, yielding strawberry shortcake or a variety of parfaits.

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