Condensed milk – the taste is not condensed

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Condensed milk is made with cow’s milk and is one from which water has been evaporated. It can be sweetened with sugar or can be used without sweetening it. Sweetened condensed milk is very thick and sweet which when canned can last for years without refrigeration if unopened. And though there are a number of things that can be made with unsweetened condensed milk, they will get spoiled easily. In India it is called khoya or mawa. And the sweets that are made using this have to be consumed fast since do not last for many days. Sweetened or unsweetened condensed milk is used in numerous dessert dishes in many countries.


It is mentioned in the writings of Marco Polo dating back to the 13th century the Tatars were able to condense milk. Apparently 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 which would also be made into a drink called ayran by diluting it, and was therefore referred to fermented milk concentrate. Condensed milk was first produced in France in 1820 and in United States in 1853. 

How it can be used

Sweetened condensed milk is used in the making of various desserts. It can be used to make eggless cakes, fudge, Indian sweets like gajar ka halwa, doodhi ka halwa. It can also be added to tea or coffee. 

The difference between evaporated and sweetened condensed milk

In the early part of the 1900s, both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk were used more than fresh milk because they had better shelf life and also posed less health risk than fresh milk. 

Evaporated milk has about 60% of the water removed via evaporation. It is then homogenized, rapidly chilled, fortified with vitamins and stabilizers, packaged, and finally sterilized. Standards require whole evaporated milk contain at least 7.9% milk fat and 25.5% milk solids. The high heat process gives it a bit of a caramelized flavour and it is slightly darker in colour than fresh milk. You'll find skim, low-fat and whole milk varieties of evaporated milk. 

On other hand sweetened condensed milk goes through less processing than evaporated milk. 60% of the water is removed this version too. But the difference lies in the fact that sugar has been added to the sweetened version. Sweetened condensed milk contains 40-45% sugar, at least 8% fat and 28% milk solids. It is pasteurized during the evaporation procedure and therefore no further sterilization is necessary. Condensed milk is very high in calories. 

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.