Plant-Based Milk Substitute

( " Mechanical Cow " )

National Enquirer ( 12-8-1968 ), p. 28

Inventor Gets 40 Quarts of Milk an Hour from Mechanical Cow


Frank Foster

Dr Hugh Franklin has a "cow" in his backyard that can eat 1123 lbs of fodder and yield 40 quarts of milk -- every hour. What's more, the milk that it gives is homogenized.

But the "cow" doesn't look anything like a cow -- because it's not a real cow. it's a mechanical one that Dr Franklin, a chemical engineer of London, built after 8 years of experiments at a cost of $8500 in second-hand parts, and it may literally be a life-saver for any countries where weeds are plentiful but cows are scarce.

The mechanical cow is about 5 times as efficient as the genuine animal when it comes to making milk.

"Real cows can only get about 4 lbs of protein out of 100 lbs of fodder", Dr Franklin said when interviewed by an ENQUIRER reporter. "Our process yields 20 lbs".

Dr Franklin has spent most of his working life developing processes for the food industries. he describes himself as "a bit of an inventor".

He was led to invent the mechanical cow by a visit to a British agricultural experiment station where scientists had been working for 15 years on the problem of producing a solid protein that could be eaten in underdeveloped parts of the world.

Protein is the scarcest of the food components that are vital to a nourishing diet. In those parts of the world where the population os chronically undernourished, shortage of protein in the diet usually is the cause.

Several artificial proteins have been developed, but their strange taste and texture have kept them from becoming popular among those who need them.

"The scientist at the experimental station were interested in getting solid protein", Dr Franklin said. "I decided to take it a step further and get milk".

This involved studying how the cow gets it. Dr Franklin's method closely resembles that of the cows.

Unlike the horns-hoof-and-hide variety, Dr Franklin's "cow" is anything but a fussy eater. "We use any domestic vegetable waste. Brussel sprout trimmings, cauliflower leaves, cabbage, spinach, beet tops -- anything handy. I am using sugar cane leaf, ferns, herbs and plants. And grass, too".

The raw material first goes into a shreddeer that grinds it a good deal finer than the cows' jaws do. "You feed in the raw material at the top, and out of the bottom comes a pourable pulp", Dr Franklin said.

"The pulp then goes into a centrifuge -- a sort of giant spin-dryer -- that whirls at 800 rpm. We then end up with a tank full of green juice.

"This green juice then goes to a machine that extracts the gummy matter.

"After that comes another, smaller centrifuge that takes out more particles and leaves a clear juice.

Now comes the trickiest part of the process.

The clear juice is finally passed to a device called an "electro-dialyzer", a stack of plastic frames containing stainless steel filters and electrical terminals.

When an electric current is passed through the juice, any plant poisons colelct at the terminals. Different plants have different poisons and the material of which the electrodes are made has to be changed depending upon what poison is to be extracted.

"What comes out of the electro-dialysis is a pure, colorless liquid with a bit of a head on it, due to the gases released by the electric current.

This then passes to the protein-collecting tank, where the protein quickly sinks to the bottom. It is almost white. We collect it together with a measured amount of the fluid. We add some oil and unrefined sugar -- to keep the milk nice and white -- heat it up to homogenize it ... and it's milk".

Soya and sunflower seed oil are the oils Dr Franklin generally adds. The mechanical "cow" also can digest cotton seeds, soybeans, cashews, or other oily nuts and seeds added to the shredder at the beginning of the process. Since these are all vegetable oils, the milk forms no cholesterol in the drinkers' blood, as animal fats do.

Mexico and Chile, where there is not enough milk to meet the needs of the population, have expressed interest in Dr Franklin's invention, but the one country that already is importing the milk is Sweden, where there is no shortage of dairy products.

"There is a dietary angle to this, too", Dr Franklin pointed out to The ENQUIRER. "In Sweden the milk is used by vegetarians and by those people -- about 1 in 1000 -- who are allergic to cow's milk.

"We're also finding that hospitals want it for infant feeding. it is used for a condition called galactosemia, in which the infant can't keep down cow's milk or its own mother's milk".

The only thing that plant milk doesn't have that is found in cow's milk is lactose, or milk sugar.

"I don't think lactose is very important", says Dr Franklin. "It can be fatal for some infants. Cow's milk, after all, is made for calves. Ours is made for humans".

Although he could not comment on plant milk itself, since he did not have a complete analysis of it, Dr W.F. Shipe, Prof. of Food Science at the New York State College of Agriculture, Cornell University, pointed out that it is not too difficult to make various combinations of ingredients that roughly resemble milk.

Most of these, he said, are laboratory curiosities.

Whether or not they will provide the same nourishment as cow's milk is the question.

"It all depends upon whether the protein is in a form that's usable by humans". Dr Shipe said.

"Alfalfa, for example, is high in protein, but the protein is not in a form that we can make use of. The same is true of fingernails.

"The fingernails are almost pure protein, but biting your nails is no way to get nourishment".

The man who sparked Dr Franklin's interest in the problem of providing protein for the underfed areas of the world is one of the world's leading reserachers in protein production: Dr N.W. Pririe, of the British government's Rothamsted Experimental Station.

Queried by The ENQUIRER, Dr Pririe gave his approval, with a reservation.

"Plant milk is in a form that is safe and usable for humans", he decalred, "but it has only about 75% of the nourishment of ordinary cow's milk".

The inventor drinks it himself, almost exclusively, and claims that he has served it to friends, in tea. "They all seem to like it".

This reporter asked Dr Franklin whether the mechanical cow also produced any usable side product similar to animal-produced fertilizer.

"Certainly", said Dr Franklin. "We use the residue from the milk process as a fertilizer".

GB 933789
Vegetable Based Milk Substitute

Applicant(s): PLANTMILK LTD
Classification:- international:     A23C11/10; A23K1/16 - European:     A23C11/10; A23K1/16I


In preparing a milk substitute, non-woody plant material, e.g cabbage leaves, is macerated, with water if necessary, and the resultant pulp filtered, preferably after agitation with decolourizing carbon, to produce a filtrate from which the protein is precipitated, e.g. by heating to 55 to 90 C., and decanted or centrifuged out to yield a slurry which is converted to a colloidal dispersion, e.g. using a colloid mill. The colloidal dispersion, which may also be prepared by vacuum evaporating the filtrate at or below 30 DEG C., is then blended with an aqueous emulsion of a vegetable fat, e.g. maize oil, containing 2 to 5% by weight, of fat, a small amount of soya lecithin as emulsifier, and, if desired 3 to 5% of unrefined sugar, to produce an emulsion, preferably of droplet size 5 to 20 m , to which further additions, e.g. of vitamins and/or mineral supplements, may be made. The milk-substitute emulsion may be dried, condensed or converted to cheese or yogurt. A modification of the process comprises adding live yeast to the precipitated and separated protein slurry, autolysing, e.g. at 50 to 55 C. for 24 hours, separating the liquid (now containing hydrolysed protein) from the resultant mixture, adding to this liquid an amount of separated protein substantially equal to the hydrolysed protein it contains, and then blending the resultant suspension with an aqueous emulsion of a vegetable fat.

The invention relates to a vegetable based milk substitute and to a process for its production.

The process of the present invnetion for the production of the vegetable based milk, hereinafter referred to as "milk", comprises macerating non-woody plant material, filtering the resultant pulp, treating the filtrate to cause the protein therein to separate out, if necessary removing and supernatant mother liquor from the separated protein and converting the protein into a colloidal suspension, or alternatively heating the fitlrate to cause the protein to separate directly as a colloidal suspension in the mother liquor, and blending the protein with an aqueous emulsion of a vegetable fat, if necessary adding natural sugar.

It is preferred to use as the non-woody plant material the green parts of the plants, particularly the waste outside leaves of, for example, cabbage and brussel sprouts.

After the plant material has been macerated with or without water, it is preferred to agitate the resulting pulp with a decolorizing agent, for example decolorizing carbon, before filtration in order to obtain a pale colored filtrate.

Various methods can be used for causing the protein in the filtrate to separate out, the simplest method being to heat the filtrate up to a temperature of from 55 to 90 C., generally 75 C, thereby causing the protein to floculate. The flocculated protein is then  separated from the mother liquer by decantation or centrifuging and the resultant slurry is treated in, say, a colloid mill to obtain a colloidal suspension. In some cases, depending on the raw material used, thin-film evaporation can be used in place of bulk heating. A preferred method of separating out the protein consists in controlled removal of liquid from the filtrate by vacuum evaporation at a temperature not exceeding 30 C, to the point where the protein separates out as a colloidal suspension. This last method obviated the need for converting the separated protein into a colloidal suspension in a separate step.

The colloidal suspension of plant protein produced is in a final stage blended with an aqueous emulsion of a vegetable fat, for example maize oil preferably containing from 2 to 5% advantageously 3% by weight of fat and a small amount of added unrefined sugar, for example 3 to 5% by weight. In addition there may be incorporated in the milk mineral and/or vitamin supplements. The milk produced in this way can then be pasteurized and bottled.

The vegetable based milk substitute provided by the invnetion is also novel and is defined as a stable, completely homogeneous double emulsion of fine droplet size of (1) and assimilable aqueous colloidal suspension of plant protein in water and (2) an aqueous emulsion of vegetable fat with or without added unrefined sugar.

The droplet size is preferably within the range of 5 to 20 microns, conveniently 15 microns.

The milk may also contain added vitamin and/or mineral supplements.

The product of the invention is substantially identical in both taste and appearance to cows milk, being of good "palate" and creamy consistency.

Using the methods conventionally employed in the dairy industry the milk provided by the invention can be converted into dried or condensed milk or cheese or yogurt.

The invention is further illustrated by the following examples:


1 kg of brussels trimmings were macerated in a high-speed mincer together with 100 ml water to form a fine pulp.

The pulp was agitated by recycling through a centrifugal pump for 45 minutes with 10 grams decolorizing carbon. Temperature 25 C.

The mass was then filtered through a leaf-filter, and the residue washed with 100 ml warm water ( 30 C ).

The clear liquor, which was quite light in color ( not necessarily colorless) was then heated to a temperature of about 65 C and the temperature very slowly raised from this point. Precipitation soon commenced and was complete within 5 minutes, the final temperature was in the region of 70 C.

The precipitated curd quickly settled and the top liquor was separated by decantation. The top liquor ( usually treated with a further 0.2% of its volume of decolorizing carbon to remove any residual odors) was vacuum concentrated to reclaim the carbohydrate of the leaf and contained a small proportion of sugars. Part of this was used in the final milk for the carbohydrate portion, usually about one-third.

The settled curd was washed twice with hot water ( 70 C) and after settling the second time was put through a wet colloid mill fitted with fine-grained stones whereby the particle size of the curd suspension reached the order of 5 microns. 110 grams were obtained in this way.

Meantime 10 gr maize oil ( or a 50:50 mixture of maize and soya oils) was homogenized with 50 mol hot water at 60 C) in a mechanical homogenizer. To the oil was added 2.5 gr soya lecithin as emulsifier, and to the water, 30 gr of a decolorized aqueous extraction of dates containing 5.3% of soluble solids. Commercially available date syrup was generally used. The final volume was 110 ml by topping up with water.

The protein and oil fractions were finally mixed together without undue agitation (it is important not to whip a lot of air into the mixture) and the milk was ready for test. The milk may then be pasteurized at 75 C for 5 minutes followed by rapid chilling. The final quantity of milk os thus 220 ml.


Separated protein curd was formed as described in Example 1.  100 parts of this protein are intimately mixed with 15 parts of fresh pressed yeast together with sufficient water to produce a fluid mixture and the mixture autolyzed at 50 to 55 C for 24 hours. The autolysate is centrifuged and the clear liquor retained. This liquor now contains most of the original protein in the hydrolyzed form as solid amino acids. To this is now added an equal amount of pure unhydrolyzed plant protein, to produce a mixture containing both hydrolyzed and unhydrolyzed protein is finally emulsified with the requisite fat proportion as previously.


Clear leaf or plant juice is prepared as previously. Decolorization is made using an increase of 15% absorbent carbon to remove completely any residual vegetable flavors. The juice is filtered and the clear liquor evaporated under sufficient vacuum to a concentrate at a temperature not higher than 30 C. After evaporation to 5 or 6 % solids whereupon the liquid becomes opalescent (giving a good milk-like appearance) the resultant liquid then constitutes the protein base for the complete milk. Final additions are made as hitherto.

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