How Condensed Milk Is Made – Step-By-Step Guide

Are you planning to embark on a milk processing business or simply wondering about how condensed milk is made at home?

This post starts by discussing the history, types, and standards of condensed milk. It then dives into how condensed milk is made at home and industrially.  The post also points out some of the challenges you are likely to face with traditional processing methods and how the use of modern shear mixers can increase your production efficiency.

Further, this post shares vital insights on the benefits of sweetened condensed milk, application possibilities, and some of the storage tips and tricks.

Contents hide

So, What Is Condensed Milk?

As the word explains, this simply refers to whole milk or fresh milk from cows or buffalo, with nearly 60% of its water removed through controlled heating.

The History of Condensed Milk

In 1820, a French confectioner chef Nicholas Appet, the father of canning,  invented condensed canned milk.  In 1827, he established the first condensed milk processing factor.  Unfortunately, the product lacked the killer taste. It became difficult to market and so, his factory never progressed.

Later, an English researcher, Willian Newton, added a sweet tasty touch to Appet’s invention. He did this by simply suggesting that the addition of sugar would improve the shelf life and enhance the flavor of the evaporated milk. Though he never took action to popularize his suggestion, his patented suggestion later became applicable in commercial production.

In 1853, an American Gail Borden, was determined to improve the shelf life of milk after witnessing deaths caused by the consumption of unhealthy milk.

So, he was the first to develop an industrial procedure for the production of condensed milk. Through his efforts, the New York Condensed Milk Company was born.

 In 1919, the company changed its name to Borden, to honor him as its founder.

Since then, the industry has undergone tremendous development. The current technologies are quickly replacing traditional methods. 

Standards of Condensed Milk Compositions

Types of Condensed MilkStandard Fat ContentStandard Non-Fat Solid Content
USAUKUSAUK
Condensed Milk7.909.0025.9031.00
Evaporated Milk8.509.0028.0031.00
Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk20.0020.00
Unsweetened Condensed Skim Milk24.0026.00

According to international standards, condensed milk should have a fat content of not less than 8%, and at least 28%  non-fat milk solids. The percentage of water is about 30-40%. However, you can decide on the desirable quantity of sugar for preservative purposes. The ideal composition of sugar should be about 40-45%.  Composition standards, however, may vary based on different regions. 

How You Can Make Condensed Milk at Home

Keeping fresh milk at home in an open container can be a challenge. As a dairy product, its quality will quickly deteriorate unless you keep it at 4 degrees in a fridge.

Now, this can be costly if you buy large quantities of milk. Therefore, making your condensed milk for easy storage and different applications is a wise idea. 

Maybe instead of fresh liquid milk, you have milk powder. How do you go about making condensed milk?

Making Condensed Milk Using Fresh Liquid Milk.

Ingredients

To prepare your condensed milk from fresh liquid milk at home, your basic ingredients are clean fresh whole milk, white sugar, and a little optional baking soda

The Process

  1. Mix 3 parts milk to 1 part white sugar in a simmering suitable clean pan. Use a suitable cup to achieve this ratio of 3:1. You can use other forms of sugar such as honey.
  2. Stir the mixture until all the sugar dissolves
  3. Heat the mixture at medium-low temperature while stirring for about 15 minutes
  4. To enhance the thickness of your condensed milk, add a pinch of baking soda while continuing to stir
  5. When the mixture gets thicker and the foaming reduces, your condensed milk is ready
  6. Pour the smooth mixture into a clean closable container for use or storage.

Making Condensed Milk Using Powdered Milk.

Ingredients

If you have powdered milk instead of whole milk, your main ingredients are water, powdered milk, and baking soda.

The process

  1. Pour 1 cup of powdered milk into a suitable bowl
  2. Add ½ cup of white sugar or other natural forms of sugar
  3. Add a pinch of baking soda
  4. Add ½ a cup of water
  5. Stir the mixture thoroughly 
  6. Pour your mixture into a clean pan
  7. Heat the mixture at low temperature while whisking for sugar not to settle at the bottom of the pan
  8. When ready, your mixture will become more thicker and creamy in color
  9. Remove the mixture from the color then seave into a cleaner container to separate to remain with a uniformly smooth condensed milk.
  10. Allow to cool then pour into a suitable container for use or storage.

Though making your condensed milk at home is convenient, you can only make limited quantities for home consumption. For commercial purposes, you need to invest in modern processing equipment.

How Condensed Milk Is Made- Step-by-step Industrial Process

Traditional Industrial Process

The traditional manufacturing of condensed milk is the old manufacturing method. This involves a simple process of first adding sugar to your already tested milk followed by the heating or evaporation process to remove water. 

It also involved the addition of skim milk powder, sugar, or butter oil to achieve the desired compositions. Agitators facilitate the mixing process.

Key Production Stages

Step 1: Whole Milk Delivery

In this first stage, milk is delivered to the production plant where it is tested to ensure it conforms to the required quality. After the necessary tests are done, it is stored and ready for processing.

Step 2: Pasteurization

The whole milk goes through the pasteurization process. It is a heating process aimed at killing microorganisms that may be present in milk.

Before the heating process begins, you can add dry sugar at this stage. Agitators help in facilitating the mixing of the ingredients.

You may also skip adding the dry sugar and consider adding sugar syrup in the next stage.

Step 3: Evaporation

The milk then passes to an evaporator where about 60% of its water evaporates. If wish to add sugar to the milk, the right form to add during this process is sugar syrup. In case you only have dry sugar, then the right moment to add it is after the evaporation process.

The evaporator consists of tubes that get heat from steam under low pressure. This causes milk to boil at 65 to 70 degrees Celsius.

As the mixture loses water, its solid composition increases. Monitoring the density of the mixture helps in maintaining the right production quality and standard.

Step 4: Crystallization

To initiate the formation of small lactose crystals so that you have smooth and creamy condensed milk, you need to add some lactose to your fresh mixture. If you ignore this process, your SCM will form large lactose crystals and affect the smoothness and quality of your final product.

Step 5: Packaging

After the successful crystallization of your SCM is now ready for packaging. The packaging can be in the form of sterilized cans or suitable paperboard packages. 

Challenges of  The Traditional Condensed Milk-Making Process

If your process involves the use of milk powder, dissolving it in water is a major challenge especially if you are handling large quantities. This is because the agitators used in traditional processes cannot break down the powder particles to help form a uniform milk solution. 

Again, when using dry sugar, the agitators do not provide enough force to break the sugar particles and to ensure they completely dissolve in milk before the heating process begins.

Because of the above challenges, your final condensed milk may not have a smooth texture unless you take the mixture through a high-pressure homogenization process.

Solutions:  – Modern High-Shear Mixers

The modern condensed milk processing industries eliminate the above challenges by investing in suitable high-shear mixers. This ensures that condensed milk compositions are quickly and effectively mixed during the standardization process.

These mixers which come in different capacities and types help in quickly breaking down both the powder and sugar particles which makes their disloving processes much faster. The final mixture, therefore, remains consistent for enhanced production quality.

Let’s take a detailed look at what the modern process entails

How Condensed Milk Is Made – The Modern Production Process

Step 1: Receiving Milk From Your Supplier

This is the initial production stage and involves the delivery of milk to your processing plant in a special hygienic tank complete with a cooling system.

To ensure you get high-quality and safe milk, you must vet your milk suppliers and only consider those who maintain high levels of hygiene.

Once the milk arrives, it is immediately cooled to 5 degrees Celsius or below. This ensures no bacterial growth takes place and that it remains fresh.

Step 2: Testing Milk

The next stage is taking the milk samples to the laboratory for a wide range of tests. The tests aim to ensure that the supplied milk fulfills all the required quality standards and that it is free from harmful organisms.

The tests also analyze the fat content and other critical components such as the protein level. 

Step 3: Filtration/Clarification

After the milk passes all the necessary standard tests, it undergoes a filtration or clarification process. The filtration process involves the removal of tiny foreign materials that may be floating or trapped inside your milk.

Clarification refers to the removal of minute particles that are not visible to your naked eye. These can be in the form of leukocytes, blood cells, large bacteria, dirt, or udder cells that might have come into contact with the milk.

To facilitate the filtration and clarification process, warm the cold mixture to about 40 degrees Celsius. This makes the milk thicker for easy filtration and clarification

Step 4: Standardization

Now that you have clean milk free from any physical contaminants, the next process is standardization. This is to ensure that the quantity of condensed milk you intend to make conforms to the set international or legal standard. 

So, the key consideration is to ensure the right ratio of fat, sugar, and non-fat solids. The process involves the separation of cream and skim milk then the addition of the right quantity of cream to achieve the desired standard. During standardization, other minerals and vitamins may be added to achieve the desired standards. To ensure quick and effective mixing of materials, a suitable high-power shear mixer granulator is used.

SaintyCo SMG H High Shear Mixer Granulator

After standardization, the milk goes through the cooling process again to maintain its freshness. The milk is now ready for further processing.

Step 5: Pre-warming/Pre-heating

The milk then goes through a pre-warming/preheating section for heating at high temperatures for a short period. A heating temperature of 120°C for bout 2 minutes enhances the stability of the evaporated milk.

The heating also ensures the standardized milk is free from harmful micro-organisms and unwanted enzymes. 

Step 6: Adding Sugar

After the pre-heating process, you need to add the right quantity of sugar in a mixer containing the milk you are processing. This is critical in the preservation of the condensed milk.

The sugar also enriches the flavor making your condensed milk suitable for a wide range of cooking applications. Since your final SCM should contain about 40% sugar, the quantity of sugar you need to add should constitute about 18% of the processed milk. 

Step 7: Evaporation

The mixture then goes through an evaporator or vacuum pan and boils at a low temperature. As water evaporates from the milk, it gets thicker and thicker. 

When the desired density is attained, the mixture is moved either for cooling or goes through a homogenization process.

Note: The vacuum pan produces SCM with superior quality compared to other evaporation options.

Step 8: Homogenization(Optional)

This process is optional and aims at improving the stability of fat during storage. It requires the use of a homogenizer in two stages.

In the first stage, the mixture passes through a pressure of 2000 psi. The second stage then follows with pressure set at 500 psi

Step 9: Cooling

The thick mixture is then cooled to about 30 °C. This increases both its thickness and smoothness due to crystalization. The cooling also inhibits discoloration caused by high-temperature exposure.

Step 10: Seeding and Crystallization

The seeding and crystallization process aims to improve the texture of the already condensed milk. If not done, your condensed milk may have large crystals, and, therefore, affect the smoothness of your condensed milk.

Seeding involves adding the already prepared condensed milk to the fresh mixture to initiate the crystalization of small lactose particles.

You should, however, ensure that the lactose crystals or condensed milk you are adding have the desired minute particle sizes that guarantee smoothness.

If you are to produce premium condensed milk grade, then your lactose crystals should measure about 10 µm. This is too tiny that you can’t detect by your tongue. The final product which is now ready for packaging should have a yellowish color

Step 11: Packaging

This stage involves packing SCM in sterilized cans or special aseptic paperboard packages ready for delivery or storage.

Types of Condensed Milk

Condensed milk can be placed in the following three categories:

Sweetened Condensed Milk (SCM)

For this type of condensed milk, sugar is added during its preparation. This is often the case and is the reason condensed milk is generally used to mean sweetened condensed milk.

In other words, it is evaporated milk but with added sugar. Depending on the process and standard, SCM constitutes about 8% fat, 20% non-fat milk solids, and about 40 to 45% sugar. 

Apart from enhancing flavor, the sugar acts as a preservative. Other additives such as lactose or baking powder may be added in small amounts.

Unsweetened or Evaporated Milk

Unlike sweetened condensed milk, no sugar is added during the evaporation process. To increase the shelf life, your packed evaporated milk should be sterilized by a heating process.

Sweetened Condensed Skim Milk

This refers to evaporated milk with added sugar after most of its cream has been removed. Sweetened condensed skim milk, therefore, has a low-fat content of about 0.5%

Benefits & Uses of Condensed Milk

1. Long Shelf Life

SCM can stay longer before going bad. This is due to its high sugar content and low level of water content. When well packed and stored in a cool dry condition, the creamy milk can last for several months.

After you open the original air-tight container and store your SCM in a cool dry place, you can still enjoy this easy-to-use sweetener or creamer for a maximum of 3 weeks. Isn’t that impressive?

2. Versatile Use

Condensed milk has a wide range of kitchen applications. You can use it to make milk-based confectionaries. At home, you can warm it and use it as a caramel sauce or for toppings.

Again, it comes in handy when preparing tantalizing desserts or when preparing a refreshing iced coffee. And if you love oatmeal, a sprinkle of condensed milk surely adds a magical sweet taste. The list is endless. 

3. Nutritional Value

Sweetened condensed milk contains high sugar levels and therefore, may not be suitable for those keen on cutting on sugar consumption.  However, its high calories make it ideal for those with high energy demands when consumed in moderation. It is also rich in other nutrients such as protein and calcium.

The creamy milk is also rich in vitamins B2 and other fat-soluble vitamins ( A, D,& E). And so, its rich nutritional value makes it a perfect addition to ensure you get a balanced diet.

4. Convenient and Cost-Effective

Compared to other milk alternatives such as milk cream or fresh milk, condensed milk is more cost-effective. It is also convenient to use and store. Getting your smooth creamy taste takes no time. It also saves you storage space with no risk of spilling. 

Tips On How To Store Your Condensed Milk

Now that you know the production process of SCM, how about taking a short journey on how you can safely store it for safe future use?

As with other dairy products, the quality of your condensed milk can deteriorate if the storage is not done well. To maintain both the texture and flavor of your SCM for longer, here are some tips you should keep at your fingertips:

1. Store In a Cool Dry Place

Keep your SCM away from hot areas. A cool and dry place with temperatures ranging between 10 degrees centigrade to 21 degrees centigrade will increase the shelf life of your creamy milk.

2. Airt Tight Glass Or Plastic Containers

If you are using either a glass or plastic container to keep your remaining condensed milk, make sure it has an air-tight cover.

If you store them in an open can or container, the surrounding air will contaminate your condensed milk and shorten its shelf life. It will also lose its original flavor by absorbing other food flavors.

3. Take Note of When You Opened The Can

After you open your condensed milk can, it is important to note the date for easy reference. Why is this important? This is because after opening the can or any other airtight packaging, your SCM will be safe for use for about 2-3 weeks. 

4. Do Not Freeze Your Condensed Milk

You may think that keeping your SCM in the refrigerator is a good idea. Unfortunately, it isn’t. While this works well with other dairy products, it is a different case with SCM.

This is because the SCM has complex properties. So, very low temperatures will make your condensed milk too thick and difficult to use.

Low temperature also facilitates the formation of large crystals and will adversely affect the texture of your condensed milk. 

However, when in a hot region such as in the tropics, you can safely store your SCM at temperatures of between 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. In such conditions, it is recommended that you control the humidity so that your storage cans do not begin to rust. 

Conclusion

To be successful at producing high-quality condensed milk, you must focus on having the best quality milk and a processing method that maintains both the quality and standard of your milk.

For commercial purposes, consider upgrading from traditional methods to modern production equipment to realize high production efficiency and fast returns on investment. 

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