The following 101, on how to make sweetened condensed milk, comes from HOMEGROWN’s flock tender, Jennifer, who has a serious sweet tooth—28 of them, actually.
Things started out simply: I wanted to try making evaporated milk. Turns out that's so simple, once I jumped that hurdle, I was ready for another. Could I go one step further and turn some of my evaporated milk into sweetened condensed milk? Yep. (See left.) That was easy, too, and took just a blink of an eye compared to the evaporating part. Instructions below.
But first things first: What’s the difference between evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk? Evaporated milk is milk that has had at least 60 percent of its water removed. It isn’t sweet, other than any burnt flavor you might get from accidentally scorching the milk while simmering it. (And if you do, don’t sweat it. It’s no big thing.)
Sweetened condensed milk is basically the same thing, or milk reduced by at least 60 percent, but with sugar—lots of sugar—added, about 45 percent of the whole volume, according to The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion. Since I had evaporated milk handy, I started with that as my base ingredient. If anyone has made sweetened condensed milk without making evaporated milk first, please post your thoughts/tips/comments below. Thanks!
Oh, and for those wondering why anyone would attempt such an undertaking when there’s a whole aisle at the grocery store full of this stuff, my thinking was two-part: 1) Curiosity. 2) Have you ever inspected the ingredient list on a can of sweetened condensed milk? Is "family farmed" or "organic" or "grass-fed" mentioned anywhere in the small print? Probably not.
Makes 1 cup or a little bit more
» 1 cup evaporated milk (Preferably homemade, like what's in those jars pictured at right; if you’ve got that, you’re three-quarters of the way there already!)
» 1 cup sugar
» wooden spoon or rubber spatula
» storage container
WHAT TO DO
Add the milk and the sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil then immediately turn down to low. Simmer until the sugar dissolves and the milk thickens a little more, about 10 minutes, stirring all the while. Let cool completely. If not using immediately, refrigerate up to a week or two.
YOU’VE GOT SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK.
» Try making Marianne’s coffee ice cream
» or Christine’s homemade chai tea concentrate, perfect for gifting
» or Scissors & Drumsticks’ cranberry cheese bars
» or Mexican-style horchata, the sweet rice milk.
Have you made sweetened condensed milk? Got some expertise to share? Post your comments below and keep the conversation rolling! If you’re in search of more baking projects, you might give Anne’s Cronut 101, Black Cat Cottage’s Homemade Extracts 101, or Rachel’s Sourdough Starter 101 a gander. If you’d like to learn more about where your food comes from, don’t miss the Food Labeling 101. You can always find more things to cook, preserve, make, craft, plant, grow, and sweeten in the HOMEGROWN 101 Library.
ALL PHOTOS: JENNIFER