Concentrated Milks

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

A number of cultures have traditionally cooked milk down for long keeping and ease of transport. According to business legend, the American Gail Borden reinvented evaporated milk around 1853 after a rough transatlantic crossing that sickened the ship’s cows. Borden added large amounts of sugar to keep his concentrated milk from spoiling. The idea of sterilizing unsweetened milk in the can came in 1884 from John Meyenberg, whose Swiss company merged with Nestlé around the turn of the century. Dried milk didn’t appear until around the turn of the 20th century. Today, concentrated milk products are valued because they keep for months and supply milk’s characteristic contribution to the texture and flavor of baked goods and confectionery, but without milk’s water.