How to Scald Milk

Don't be scared to scald.

Cooking Pampe
Photo: TomekD76 via Getty Images

Once upon a time, people had to pasteurize milk through a process called scalding. Otherwise, they were exposed to bacteria that caused food-borne illnesses like typhoid fever, diphtheria, and even tuberculosis.

Then, in 1862, a French chemist named Louis Pasteur devised a process that could remove the microorganisms that caused beverages to spoil, and people started using it on milk. These days, milk is pasteurized and safe to consume without scalding.

Even though science has progressed so you don't need to pasteurize every gallon of milk that comes into your household, it's still a useful technique — especially for bakers.

What Is Scalded Milk?

Scalded milk is milk that is heated to a temperature of 180 degrees F and then cooled down to about 110 degrees F. Milk boils at 212 degrees F, so scalded milk does not reach boiling point.

Why Do You Scald Milk?

Although it's no longer necessary to scald milk for pasteurization, there's still merit in the practice. In yogurt making, for example, scalded milk removes unnecessary protein during dairy fermentation.

Scalded milk is especially useful for baking, where it adds airiness and bounce to yeast-based breads and cakes. Scalded milk can also help butter melt and sugar dissolve faster, creating a more uniform dough or batter.

Additionally, using scalded milk in a baking recipe will bring out more essence from flavor agents like cinnamon, citrus, and vanilla beans.

How to Scald Milk

  • Pour your milk into a medium saucepan with a thick bottom that will allow you to cook evenly and avoid hot spots and scorching. Place your saucepan on the stove and turn the heat to medium.
  • Stir the milk frequently, to prevent filming, until bubbles form around the edge and the milk starts giving off steam.
  • When the milk starts bubbling, remove the pan from heat.
  • Before you use the scalded milk in a recipe, let it cool down until it reaches 110 degrees F. Once the milk has cooled down, you can proceed with the recipe.

How to Scald Milk in the Microwave

To scald milk in the microwave, start by putting your milk in a microwave-safe container, like a large glass bowl. (You'll want something large enough to prevent spilling the milk and burning yourself).

Microwave the milk in 15- or 30-second increments, stirring after each cycle, until the middle of the bowl reaches 180 degrees F. Once it's there, remove the bowl, and set it somewhere it can cool down to 110 degrees F.

Can You Scald Milk in the Instant Pot?

Anyone who's made yogurt in the Instant Pot knows that it has the capability to scald milk. It's important to exercise caution when doing this (or cooking anything in your Instant Pot, for that matter) in order to avoid burning the milk or making contact with super-hot liquid.

To scald milk in the Instant Pot, all you need to do is carry out the initial step of making Instant Pot yogurt — scalding.

Add the milk to your inner pot, and secure the lid. Then, press the yogurt button until it says BOIL. When that stage finishes (the milk will be around 170 to 180degreesF), remove the pot, and let cool until the milk reaches 110 degrees F.


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