Condensed milk

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Condensed milk from a plastic tube package 2016-03-26-Gezuckerte Kondensmilch-4699.jpg
Condensed milk from a plastic tube package

Condensed milk is cow's milk from which water has been removed (roughly 60% of it). It is most often found with sugar added, in the form of sweetened condensed milk (SCM), to the extent that the terms "condensed milk" and "sweetened condensed milk" are often used interchangeably today. [1] Sweetened condensed milk is a very thick, sweet product, which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if not opened. The product is used in numerous dessert dishes in many countries. [2]


A related product is evaporated milk, which has undergone a lengthier preservation process because it is not sweetened. Evaporated milk is known in some countries as unsweetened condensed milk. Both products have a similar amount of water removed. [3]


A monument to tinned condensed milk at a local milk-processing factory in Rahachow, Belarus Rog.jpg
A monument to tinned condensed milk at a local milk-processing factory in Rahachow, Belarus

According to the writings of Marco Polo, in the thirteenth century the Tatars were able to condense milk. Marco Polo reported that ten pounds (4.5 kg) of milk paste was carried by each man, who would subsequently mix the product with water. However, this probably refers to the soft Tatar curd (katyk), which can be made into a drink ( ayran ) by diluting it, and therefore refers to fermented, not fresh, milk concentrate.

Nicolas Appert condensed milk in France in 1820, [4] and Gail Borden Jr., in the United States in 1853, in reaction to difficulties in storing milk for more than a few hours. Before this development, milk could be kept fresh for only a short while and was available only in the immediate vicinity of a lactating cow. While returning from a trip to England in 1851, Borden was devastated by the deaths of several children, apparently from poor milk obtained from shipboard cows. With less than a year of schooling and following a series of failures, both of his own and of others, Borden was inspired by the vacuum pan he had seen being used by Shakers to condense fruit juice and managed to reduce milk without scorching or curdling it. [5] Even then his first two factories failed [6] and only the third, built with new partner Jeremiah Milbank [7] in Wassaic, New York, produced a usable milk derivative that was long-lasting and needed no refrigeration.

Probably of equal importance for the future of milk production were Borden's requirements (the "Dairyman's Ten Commandments") for farmers who wanted to sell him raw milk: they were required to wash the cows' udders before milking, keep barns swept clean, and scald and dry their strainers morning and night. By 1858, Borden's milk, sold as Eagle Brand, had gained a reputation for purity, durability and economy. [8] [9]

In 1864, Gail Borden's New York Condensed Milk Company constructed the New York Milk Condensery in Brewster, New York. [10] This was the largest and most advanced milk factory of its day and was Borden's first commercially successful plant. More than 200 dairy farmers supplied 20,000 gallons (76,000 litres) of milk daily to the Brewster plant as demand increased driven by the American Civil War.

The U.S. government ordered huge amounts of condensed milk as a field ration for Union soldiers during the war. This was an extraordinary field ration for the nineteenth century: a typical 10-oz (300-ml) can contained 1,300 calories (5440 kJ), 1 oz (28 g) each of protein and fat, and more than 7 oz (200 g) of carbohydrate.

Soldiers returning home from the war soon spread the word, and by the late 1860s condensed milk was a major product. The first Canadian condensery was built at Truro, Nova Scotia, in 1871. [11] In 1899, E. B. Stuart opened the first Pacific Coast Condensed Milk Company (later known as the Carnation Milk Products Company) plant in Kent, Washington. The condensed milk market developed into a bubble, with too many manufacturers chasing too little demand. [12] In 1911, Nestlé constructed the world's largest condensed milk plant in Dennington, Victoria, Australia. [13] By 1912, high stocks of condensed milk led to a drop in price and many condenseries went out of business.

In 1914, Otto F. Hunziker, head of Purdue University's dairy department, self-published Condensed Milk and Milk Powder: Prepared for the Use of Milk Condenseries, Dairy Students and Pure Food Departments. This text, along with the additional work of Hunziker and others involved with the American Dairy Science Association, standardized and improved condensery operations in the United States and internationally. Hunziker's book was republished in a seventh edition in October 2007 by Cartwright Press. [14]

The First World War regenerated interest in, and the market for, condensed milk, primarily due to its storage and transportation benefits. In the U.S. the higher price for raw milk paid by condenseries created significant problems for the cheese industry. [15]


Raw milk is clarified [16] and standardised to a desired fat to solid-not-fat (SNF) ratio, [17] and is then heated to 85–90 °C (185–194 °F) for several seconds. This heating process destroys some microorganisms, decreases fat separation and inhibits oxidation. Some water[ quantify ] is evaporated from the milk and sugar is added until a 9:11 (nearly half) ratio of sugar to (evaporated) milk is reached. The sugar extends the shelf life of sweetened condensed milk. Sucrose increases the liquid's osmotic pressure, which prevents microorganism growth. The sweetened evaporated milk is cooled and lactose crystallization is induced. [18]

Current use

Condensed milk boiled for several hours to become homemade dulce de leche Hausgemachte dulce de leche 07.04.2012 17-30-13.jpg
Condensed milk boiled for several hours to become homemade dulce de leche
Cafe bombon is a Spanish variation of coffee prepared with condensed milk Cafe bombon - Daquella manera.jpg
Café bombón is a Spanish variation of coffee prepared with condensed milk

Condensed milk is used in recipes for the Brazilian candy brigadeiro (where condensed milk is the main ingredient), key lime pie, caramel candies, and other desserts. Condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk is also sometimes used in combination with clotted cream to make fudge in certain countries such as the United Kingdom.

In parts of Asia and Europe, sweetened condensed milk is the preferred milk to be added to coffee or tea. Many countries in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam and Cambodia, use condensed milk to flavor their hot or iced coffee. In Malaysia and Singapore, teh tarik is made from tea mixed with condensed milk, and condensed milk is an integral element in Hong Kong tea culture. In the Canary Islands, it is served as the bottom stripe in a glass of the local café cortado and, in Valencia, it is served as a café bombón.

Borden's Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk has noted that ice cream could be made quite simply at home with their product, cream, and various simple flavorings, being ready to serve after as little as four hours. [19]

In New Orleans, sweetened condensed milk is commonly used as a topping on chocolate or similarly cream-flavored snowballs. In Scotland, it is mixed with sugar and butter then boiled to form a popular sweet candy called tablet or Swiss milk tablet, this recipe being very similar to another version of the Brazilian candy brigadeiro called branquinho. In some parts of the Southern United States, condensed milk is a key ingredient in lemon ice box pie, a sort of cream pie. In the Philippines, condensed milk is mixed with some evaporated milk and eggs, spooned into shallow metal containers over liquid caramelized sugar, and then steamed to make a stiffer and more filling version of crème caramel known as leche flan , also common in Brazil under the name pudim de leite.

In Mexico, sweetened condensed milk is one of the main ingredients of the cold cake dessert (the leading brand is "La Lechera", the local version of Swiss Milchmädchen by Nestlé), combined with evaporated milk, Marie biscuits, lemon juice, and tropical fruit. In Brazil, this recipe is also done exchanging fruit for puddings, most commonly vanilla and chocolate, known as pavê or torta de bolacha. It is also used to make homemade dulce de leche by baking it in an oven. In Brazil, this is done by baking the unopened can in a bain-marie , the result being doce de leite . In Britain and Ireland, the contents of a boiled can are used as the layer between the biscuit base and the banana and cream level in banoffee. There is also a pastry-based tart that is popular in the county of Kent, England called Gypsy tart. The pastry case is then filled with a mixture of brown sugar and either condensed milk, evaporated milk, or a mixture of the two before being baked. In Latin American and Central American countries, condensed milk (along with evaporated milk and whole milk or canned cream) is used as a key ingredient in the tres leches cake dessert.

In Soviet culture it was once common to boil a can of condensed milk in water for about three hours. The resulting product is a sweet semi-liquid substance which can be used as a cake icing or put between layers. It is essentially the same as dulce de leche. A similar product is called kajmak in Central Asia (although the original kaymak is a product similar to clotted cream). [20] [21] In Russia its called varionaya sguschyonka (translates as "boiled condensed milk"). The Soviet tradition and kaymak are also known in Poland.


Condensed milk can be made from evaporated milk by mixing one volume measure of evaporated milk with one and a quarter volume measures of sugar in a saucepan, then heating and stirring the mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, then cooling. It can also be made by simmering regular milk and sugar, until it is reduced by 60%. [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Dessert Course that concludes a meal, usually sweet

Dessert is a course that concludes a meal. The course consists of sweet foods, such as confections, and possibly a beverage such as dessert wine and liqueur. In some parts of the world, such as much of central and western Africa, and most parts of China, there is no tradition of a dessert course to conclude a meal.

Ice cream A frozen dessert

Ice cream is a sweetened frozen food typically eaten as a snack or dessert. It may be made from dairy milk or cream and is flavoured with a sweetener, either sugar or an alternative, and any spice, such as cocoa or vanilla. It can also be made by whisking a flavored cream base and liquid nitrogen together. Colorings are usually added, in addition to stabilizers. The mixture is stirred to incorporate air spaces and cooled below the freezing point of water to prevent detectable ice crystals from forming. The result is a smooth, semi-solid foam that is solid at very low temperatures. It becomes more malleable as its temperature increases.

Caramel Confectionery product made by heating sugars

Caramel is a medium to dark-orange confectionery product made by heating a variety of sugars. It can be used as a flavoring in puddings and desserts, as a filling in bonbons, or as a topping for ice cream, and custard.

Chocolate bar Confection containing sweetened chocolate in oblong or rectangular form

A chocolate bar or candy bar is a confection containing chocolate, which may also contain layerings or mixtures that include nuts, fruit, caramel, nougat, and wafers. A wide variety of chocolate bar brands are sold. A popular example is a Snickers bar, which consists of nougat mixed with caramel and peanuts, covered in milk chocolate.

Crème caramel Custard dessert with soft caramel on top

Crème caramel, flan, or caramel custard is a custard dessert with a layer of clear caramel sauce, contrasted with crème brûlée which is custard with a hard caramel layer on top.

Evaporated milk Unsweetened milk product derived from cows milk

Evaporated milk, known in some countries as "unsweetened condensed milk", is a shelf-stable canned cow’s milk product where about 60% of the water has been removed from fresh milk. It differs from sweetened condensed milk, which contains added sugar. The production process involves the evaporation of 60% of the water from the milk, followed by homogenization, canning, and heat-sterilization.

Dulce de leche Confection from Latin America

Dulce de leche is a confection from Latin America prepared by slowly heating sugar and milk over a period of several hours. The resulting substance, which takes on a spreadable, sauce-like consistency, derives its rich flavour and colour from non-enzymatic browning. It is typically used to top or fill other sweet foods.

Coconut milk Liquid that comes from the grated meat of a coconut

Coconut milk is an opaque, milky-white liquid extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts. The opacity and rich taste of coconut milk are due to its high oil content, most of which is saturated fat. Coconut milk is a traditional food ingredient used in Southeast Asia, Oceania, South Asia, and East Africa. It is also used for cooking in the Caribbean, tropical Latin America, and West Africa, where coconuts were introduced during the colonial era.

Rice pudding Dish made from rice mixed with water or milk

Rice pudding is a dish made from rice mixed with water or milk and other ingredients such as cinnamon, vanilla and raisins.

Kulfi Indian frozen dessert

Kulfi or Qulfi is a frozen dairy dessert originating in the Indian subcontinent in the 16th century. It is often described as "traditional Indian ice cream". It is popular throughout present-day India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Burma (Myanmar), and the Middle East, and widely available in restaurants serving cuisines from the Indian subcontinent around the world.

Tablet (confectionery) Sugary confection from Scotland

Tablet is a medium-hard, sugary confection from Scotland. Tablet is usually made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter, which is boiled to a soft-ball stage and allowed to crystallise. It is often flavoured with vanilla or whisky, and sometimes has nut pieces in it.

Carnation (brand) Brand of evaporated milk and other products

Carnation is a brand of food products. The brand was especially known for its evaporated milk product created in 1899, then called Carnation Sterilized Cream and later called Carnation Evaporated Milk. The brand has since been used for other related products including milk-flavoring mixes, flavored beverages, flavor syrups, hot cocoa mixes, instant breakfasts, corn flakes, ice cream novelties, and dog food. Nestlé acquired the Carnation Company in 1985.

Cajeta Confection of thickened syrup

Cajeta is a confection of thickened caramel usually made of sweetened caramelised goat's milk. It is a type of dulce de leche. In Mexico, it is considered a specialty of the city of Celaya in the state of Guanajuato.


Halo-halo, also spelled haluhalo, Filipino for "mixed", is a popular cold dessert in the Philippines made up of crushed ice, evaporated milk or condensed milk, and various ingredients including: ube, sweetened beans, coconut strips, sago, gulaman (agar), pinipig rice, boiled taro or soft yams in cubes, slices or portions of fruit preserves and other root crop preserves, flan, and often topped with a scoop of ube ice cream. Halo-halo is considered to be the unofficial national dessert of the Philippines. The term "halo-halo" literally means "mix-mix" in English, but is ungrammatical; despite this, it is the more common form of the dessert's name. By extension, this spelling has come to describe any object or situation that is composed of a similar, colorful mélange of ingredients.

Banoffee pie English dessert pie

Banoffee pie is an English dessert pie made from bananas, cream and a thick caramel sauce, combined either on a buttery biscuit base or one made from crumbled biscuits and butter. Some versions of the recipe also include chocolate, coffee or both.

Quesillo refers to different Latin American, Spanish, and Filipino foods or dishes depending on the country:

Eagle Brand

Eagle Family Foods Group LLC, is an American producer of food and beverage products created in 2016 by Paul Smucker Wagstaff. The company was named after the condensed milk created by Gail Borden in 1853. Initially Eagle Family Foods LLC was formed in 2007 by former employees of Borden who created and sold the sweetened condensed milk.

Natillas Spanish custard dish of milk and eggs, variety of custards

Natillas is a term in Spanish for a variety of custards and similar delicacies in the Spanish-speaking world. In Spain, this term refers to a custard dish made with milk and eggs, similar to other European creams as crème anglaise. In Colombia, the delicacy does not include eggs, and is called natilla.

Baked milk Beverage derived from milk

Baked milk is a variety of boiled milk that has been particularly popular in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It is made by simmering milk on low heat for eight hours or longer.

Pet, Inc. American evaporated milk company

Pet, Inc., was an American company that was the first to commercially produce evaporated milk as a shelf-stable consumer product and later became a multi-brand food products conglomerate. Its signature product, PET Evaporated Milk, is now a product of The J.M. Smucker Company. PET Dairy is a regional brand of fresh and processed dairy products in the Southeastern United States made by the Land-O-Sun division of Dean Foods. Many of the remaining brands once owned by Pet, Inc., are currently part of General Mills.


  1. "Manufacture of Sweetened Condensed Milk". Silverson Machines. Retrieved 2019-10-17. Sweetened condensed milk (SCM) is concentrated milk to which sugar has been added to act as a preservative. It differs from unsweetened evaporated milk, which is preserved by sterilization at high temperature after packaging. Typically, SCM contains around 8% fat, 45% sugar and 20% solids-non-fat. The finished product is mainly used in the manufacture of confectionery and chocolate.
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  13. "Historical timeline" (PDF). Société des Produits Nestlé SA. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 1911 Dennington Condensed Milk factory built (largest in the world during the war).
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  19. Walker, Judy, Make New Orleans flavored ice cream without a fancy machine ,, August 5, 2010
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