Condensed milk is a thickened, partially dehydrated milk where the fat content is no less than 7.5%. The dry matter of the substance must be no less than 25%. In this form, the milk is stored and transported easier. Condensed milk may contain sugar or be unsweetened.
This dairy product is colored from light yellow to caramel. It has a thick, creamy consistency. The taste is gentle, sweet (when it is sweetened) and enjoyable. The scent is delicate, barely noticeable. Condensed milk is a product widely used in the confectionery industry. Chefs often infuse it in creams, cakes and other sweet temptations.
History of Condensed Milk
The origin of condensed milk has absolutely nothing to do with any kind of culinary pursuits. It was actually created to keep the soldiers in Napoleon Bonaparte's army fit.
According to the legend, condensed milk was the creation of chef and trader Nicolas Appert. The soldiers took a liking to his milk, something that did not go unnoticed by the emperor. Very soon, he himself encouraged the efforts of Appert with a reward. Napoleon did not neglect to mention the wonderful qualities of the invention in front of the father of condensed milk.
The milk was especially valued since it provided a surplus of a bunch of healthy substances. Later, during the World Wars, cans of this thickened milk were not just given to soldiers but also to the wounded so that they could recover faster.
Composition of Condensed Milk
The composition of condensed milk contains notable amounts of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. It is a source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and sodium. You will also find vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E.
Types of Condensed Milk
Condensed milk can be sweetened or unsweetened. The production process of both types includes several major stages. Unsweetened condensed milk is made from milk. It is cleaned of impurities and undergoes pasteurization for about 10 min. This process removes the vegetative forms of the microorganisms.
After this, the milk is thickened in order to remove more than half of the water in it. As soon as the resulting product cools, it's time to can it. They are closed and undergo sterilization, boiling no more than 20 min. at a temperature of 230°F (110°C). Salty tinges are present in this type of milk, while its consistency is similar to cream.
Sweetened condensed milk is made the same way but with sugar added after pasteurization of the liquid. In addition, an aroma or color can be added to this type of dairy product by putting in coffee or cocoa. In this case, the result is a homogeneous, creamy substance.
Choosing and Storing Condensed Milk
There is a wide range of condensed milk brands offered in stores. It comes in cans of various sizes that are airtight. Before you buy, be sure to check the expiration date. Usually it is fit for consumption 6-7 months after the date of production.
As far as storage goes, the milk must be kept in a refrigerator, especially once opened. Shortcomings may occur in both types of milk, including curdling of the casein, darkening of the milk substance, a metallic taste if storing in cans for too long.
Cooking with Condensed Milk
The thick and creamy consistency of condensed milk allow for its use in all sorts of culinary ways. As a rule, though, it is mostly added in the preparation of desserts. It is a preferred product in many creams, puddings, ice creams, mousses, cakes, cheesecakes, rolls and more.
It is used to complement various fruit salads, as well as to pour over waffles and pancakes. Warm drink lovers prefer it to soften their coffee or cappuccino. It is also used to make milk sauces or purees from potatoes, carrots, zucchini and other vegetables.
Benefits of Condensed Milk
Experts claim that condensed milk is healthy and nutritious since it is a source of saturated fatty acids and micronutrients. As mentioned, condensed milk is a source of vitamins from groups А, В, С, D and Е, which provide us energy, health and beauty. Condensed milk is recommended for vegetarians especially, since it has the ability to compensate for the absence of meat in their diet.
Dangers of Condensed Milk
Even though condensed milk is considered healthy, overconsumption of the sweetened type can cause undesirable consequences. Nutritionists warn that excessive and prolonged use of the dairy product with sugar can cause obesity. Dentists warn that it can also be a cause of dental cavities.