Don’t Cry

boiling milk:

J from Jamaica asks:

“I just want to know why milk scorches and how to prevent it. I would be grateful for the info as it is for a project. Thank you.”

My reply:

Milk scorches when the fat protein molecules sink to the bottom of the pot and stick because, although the cream floats on cold milk, when you heat it those fatty molecules sink and accumulate on the bottom.

A way to avoid the scorching, believe it or not, is to first add a little water in your saucepan – enough to just cover the base.

Bring the water to the boil, then add the milk on top and cook as required. That initial water will reduce the accumulation of those sticky molecules. Sounds silly, but it works.

Always choose a heavy-based pot to avoid scorching, especially one that conducts heat well. Stainless steel, by the way, is a poor conductor of heat, and is prone to hot spots.

And remember, while heating the milk, stir it continuously with a wooden spoon (a flat-edged variety is my favourite) until it boils. This will also help keep the bottom from burning.

Once the milk is boiling, and you need to keep cooking it (depending on the recipe) turn the heat down a little, because less stirring is needed since the milk (and all those fat/protein molecules) are now circulating.

And finally, if you add sugar to the milk (providing the recipe calls for it) this will reduce the tendency of the milk to burn.
Posted by Kurma on 11/2/07; 7:06:50 AM

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