Deutsch: Abschöpfen / Español: Desnatado / Português: Desnatamento / Français: Écrémage / Italiano: Scrematura

Skimming in the food context is the process of removing fat, impurities, or foam from the surface of a liquid, such as broth, soup, or milk. This technique is commonly used in cooking and food preparation to improve the quality, appearance, and taste of the final product.


Skimming is a culinary technique used to enhance the quality of various dishes and food products. During cooking, particularly when preparing broths, soups, or stews, fats and impurities tend to rise to the surface. These can create an undesirable greasy texture or cloudy appearance. Skimming involves using a spoon, ladle, or a specialized skimming tool to carefully remove these unwanted elements from the surface of the liquid.

In dairy processing, skimming refers to the removal of cream from milk to produce lower-fat milk products. This is typically done using a mechanical separator that spins the milk to separate the cream based on density differences. Skimmed milk, which has had most of its cream removed, is often used to produce low-fat dairy products like skimmed milk yogurt or low-fat cheese.

The technique is also used in the preparation of certain beverages and sauces, where clarity and texture are important. For example, in wine and beer production, skimming can help remove yeast and other fermentation byproducts that float to the surface.

Historically, skimming has been a manual process, but modern advancements have introduced automated skimming equipment that increases efficiency and consistency in food production.

Special Techniques

There are specific techniques and tools used for skimming depending on the type of liquid and the desired outcome:

  • Manual Skimming: Using a spoon or ladle to gently lift off the fat or impurities from the surface.
  • Mechanical Separators: Used in dairy processing to separate cream from milk efficiently.
  • Fine Mesh Skimmers: Useful for removing small particles and foam in soups and broths.

Application Areas

Broth and Soup Preparation: Skimming is essential for creating clear, aesthetically pleasing broths and soups. It removes fat and impurities that float to the surface during cooking.

Dairy Processing: In the dairy industry, skimming is used to produce skimmed milk and cream. This process is fundamental in the production of low-fat dairy products.

Beverage Production: Skimming is used in the production of alcoholic beverages like beer and wine to remove yeast and other residues from the surface.

Sauce Making: Ensures that sauces are smooth and free of any floating particles or excess oil.

Well-Known Examples

  • Clarifying Broth: When making consommé, a type of clear soup, skimming is a critical step to ensure clarity.
  • Milk Skimming: In dairy production, skimming is used to create various grades of milk fat content, such as skimmed milk.
  • Sauce Espagnole: A classic French sauce that requires skimming to remove impurities for a smooth finish.

Treatment and Risks

While skimming is generally a straightforward process, there are a few considerations and potential issues:

  • Loss of Flavor: Excessive skimming can remove some of the flavorful fats, potentially affecting the taste.
  • Temperature Control: It is important to skim at the right temperature. For example, broths should be skimmed while simmering, not boiling, to avoid mixing impurities back into the liquid.
  • Sanitation: Proper hygiene practices should be followed to avoid contamination during skimming, especially in commercial settings.

Similar Terms

  • Straining: A broader term that includes passing liquids through a sieve to remove solids.
  • Decanting: Often used in winemaking, it involves pouring off a liquid without disturbing sediment at the bottom.


In the food context, skimming is a vital technique used to remove fat, impurities, and foam from the surface of liquids such as broths, soups, and milk. This process is essential in both culinary and industrial settings to ensure the quality, clarity, and taste of food and beverages. Proper skimming techniques enhance the final product's aesthetic and flavour profile while maintaining hygiene and safety standards.


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