Tuesday, June 28, 2016
An Experiment: Milk Jam
The baseline for any of my little adventures is simple and sensible: What is the worst that can happen?
In the case of this Milk Jam experiment, the worst was already inevitable: the milk was obviously spoiling. I couldn't make it worse but I might make it better if I tried. Therefore, why not?!
Several months ago, I had seen a mention online of milk jam and I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea so, really, I've been waiting for an opportunity to give it a try. Realizing that I had the main ingredient and that it absolutely had to be used up right away, I looked up half a dozen versions of the recipe (all quite similar), I watched a YouTube video (doesn't everyone?), and then I went bravely to the kitchen.
There was more milk than I had thought so I chose to make twice as much as I had intended. But the important factor seems to be the milk to sugar ratio: 1 cup of milk to 1/4 cup of sugar plus about a tablespoon more.
I poured 4 cups of milk into a heavy saucepan, and got it started on medium heat. When the milk had scalded, I added 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Stirred everything in nicely with a whisk and then :::::whooooosh!::::: it fizzed up like crazy and threatened to overrun the saucepan. I got out a bigger pot, and poured the mixture in. Crisis averted; just more dishes to wash later. Returned it to a slow boil, and turned the temperature to a low simmer. Before I forgot, I added a teaspoon of vanilla (the recipes nearly all specify vanilla bean but those things are expensive so, no surprise, I haven't got any) and :::::whooooosh!::::: again but the fizzing went right down when I gave it a stir. Surprising stuff, this is.
A couple of recipes said that the mixture wanted skimming and constant attention. Several others suggested generally ignoring it with occasional stirs. I went with the majority opinion. (Sorry, not dedicated enough to stand at the stove stirring for endless hours.) After about 15 minutes I checked on progress. Mixture was turning a light brown but looking like it wasn't doing much so I turned the heat up a notch so that the mixture kept up a gentle bubbling.
I let it cook and cook and cook (with occasional stirring) while I was busy about bread-baking and kitchen cleaning. After a couple of hours or so, it had become quite a dark chocolate-y color (darker than it seems in the picture) but it hadn't thickened in quite the way the recipes said that it ought to--it was more of a sauce consistency. Since it seemed like it would over-cook if I left it longer, I decanted it into a couple of jam jars. No, I didn't use the kind of jars that seal; this stuff has to keep in the fridge, so I didn't bother.
The recipes also said that it would thicken on chilling. It didn't; overnight it has remained sauce-like. But it does have a nice caramel flavor, and I'm thinking it will be kinda interesting to try on pancakes. It would probably also be quite good on ice cream, although I'm not likely to buy any--that stuff is just empty calories that only makes me want more of something that isn't really good for me. This milk jam/sauce isn't exactly health food either but it was an interesting experiment and it saved waste.
Would I do this again? Quite possibly. I'd like to figure out how to make it so it thickens better. And I'd kinda like to try making in the CrockPot so I could let it cook longer. We'll see what happens next time there's milk threatening to go off.