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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To milk or not to milk

Okay so experiment number one is to try and make evaporated milk adding nothing.  No preservatives, no thickening agents, no nothing - just milk. Why?  Because I realized that almost no organic or natural evaporated milk is available in the market - I could only find one brand - Santini that makes organic, no crap evaporated milk.  Sure you can get low fat versions - but it still has additives in it (ones I cannot spell without looking at the label and cannot read even looking at it!).  For the record, most will contain Dipotassium Phosphate, Carrageenan and some Vitamin D3 for good measure (FYI these are on the US FDA "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS) lists and have been in use since like forever - whatever that means). 

I first started out needing evaporated milk for another dessert recipe I was trying out.  So I used the regular caned version but was turned off when I realized for the first time that it had stuff in it that wasn't milk (never read the label before - go figure).  Then I tried the same recipe yesterday but tried to evaporate the milk down myself.  Made the mistake of jumping ahead of myself and adding in some sugar before the milk was truly evaporated and so ended up boiling it with sugar added and so guess what I got - condensed milk - not evaporated milk.

Day 2 - So today I'm trying it again - objective is to get plain, all natural evaporated milk.  Here's what I'm supposed to do:
  • Start with 10 cups whole milk (so I can have some extra to refrigerate for later)
  • Heavy base wide metal pot (wide to allow for maximum surface area for evaporation)
  • Ceramic milk watcher (to stop the milk from boiling over and causing a cataclysmic destruction of my stove top!)
  • soft silicone/wooden spatula for stirring
  • Around 2 hours of time to watch/stir and eventually get 60% of the water out of the milk and end up with what we know as evaporated milk.
**Note to self - do not trust the milk watcher - if heat is too high the milk will still boil over!  Caught it just in time, thus averting cataclysmic stove event!** Obviously then the heat must be turned down once it reaches the boiling point.  Of course this adds to the excruciatingly long time it takes to get it down to the 40% of original - grrr!

OOPS - WRONG!  Apparently the milk must not be allowed to boil at all because it will curdle/separate - YUCK!

Day 3 - So the trick is to bring it to a steaming point and then turn the heat low and allow it to steam - stirring often to ensure the skin that forms on the top.  This is going to take FOREVER!!  Does anyone have this kind of time these days?  Should I just pay more ($1.79 vs $1.49 for a can) for the organic canned version?  Eventual cost of making the same amount of evaporated milk myself works out to about $0.70.

After three days of trials, wasting a lot of perfectly good milk (well not wasting it really - found something to do with it), running out of patience - I'm caving to spending more for the store bought version.  AAARGH!  Does anyone know of a milk steaming contraption that might save time and energy and motivate me to try again? :(

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