10 Dairy: Panna Cotta

Individual voices put together make a chorus.

Panna Cotta is Italian for “cooked cream”, sweetened cream thickened with gelatin and molded. (Photo from insatiable munch, made available under CC License)

Play Your Part        Jump to Recipe

The ability to digest milk did not come naturally – we have developed lactase (the enzyme to break down lactose in milk) over the course of 20,000 years. The ability to digest milk without getting an upset stomach is common in Europeans, and stems from their love of this nutritious product.

Most commercial milk comes from cows. In the Classic Burger recipe, cows were outlined to cause air, water and land pollution – what results from outside the animal. This section we will look at what goes on inside the animal.

A common concern of milk consumption is it is safe? Lots of concerns have been raised about antibiotic and hormones in milk – treated on cows to increase production while staying healthy, often in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) busted this misconception in 2015, when they tested rough 2000 blind samples of milk for antibiotic or hormonal residues. 99% passed with a green light!

Consumer demand for healthy milk has led to stricter regulations. (Photo from Oliver Dixon, made available under CC License)

This is a success story – something that is not often highlighted in the gloom and doom that our stories revolve in. Bottom-up concern from the public about the safety of milk consumption has generated a wave of studies and shift in mindsets. It told farmers, corporations and government at the very top that “Hey, we want healthy milk, healthy cows and healthy environment.” Today, there are strict regulations and monitoring to test for unwanted residues in milk, which in turn indirectly forces farmers to limit their herd size, their milk yields and their pollution amounts. The power of consumers voices have allowed for healthy nutritious products, healthier cows and healthier environments.

It is important to remember in the fight for something as big as the world’s food supply, that people can influence each other, even if you are but just one. Consumers are people, but so are the farmers, the minds behind the multi-billion companies and the ones inside protected federal buildings.


Play Your Part:

  • Speak up and break the silence – start small, talk to closed ones and those who share your opinion, before going bigger, to those who are less interested or, even to those who challenge your views
  • Understand that food is an intersection between health, economy and environment – nothing can escape the clutches of what we eat


back to top


Early Westerners who came to China had to have all their dairy products imported! With rise in income and popularity of Western tastes, dairy products are starting to take hold in Asia. Unfortunately, many Asians are lactose intolerant. Lucky for me, I am not, and have grown up drinking milk for breakfast. That also means I am able to consume all the dairy products (think desserts) to my heart’s content. Below’s recipe is for plain panna cotta, so add your own toppings!

Panna cotta in a cup, topped with fruit mixture. (Photo from RitaE, made available under CC License)

Panna Cotta (from All Recipes)

Yield: Serves 6



  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 (0.25 oz) envelope unflavoured gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Pour milk into bowl and stir in gelatin powder
  2. Stir heavy cream and sugar over medium heat. Bring to full boil, watching carefully, as cream will quickly rise
  3. Add milk and gelatin mixture into cream, stirring until completely dissolved
  4. Cook for one minute, stirring continuously
  5. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla
  6. Pour into ramekin dishes, or any other desired holding cups (Note: holding dish must be able to withstand heat and cold)
  7. Cool, uncovered, at room temperature
  8. When cooled, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before serving
  9. Top with toppings of your choosing, such as fruits, nuts or fudge


Recipe Notes:

  • Holding dish will determine shape of your panna cotta


back to top


Ingredients of the Environment: A Cookbook Copyright © by Hazel Chew. All Rights Reserved.

Share This Book