Plant-Based Milk Substitute
( " Mechanical Cow " )
( 12-8-1968 ), p. 28
Inventor Gets 40 Quarts of Milk
an Hour from Mechanical Cow
by 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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
Queried by The ENQUIRER, Dr Pririe gave his approval, with a
"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
This reporter asked Dr Franklin whether the mechanical cow also
produced any usable side product similar to animal-produced
"Certainly", said Dr Franklin. "We use the residue from the milk
process as a fertilizer".
Inventor(s): FRANKLIN HUGH BELGROVE
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
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
The product of the invention is substantially identical in both
taste and appearance to cows milk, being of good "palate" and
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
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
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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