Monday, October 01, 2007

Sweetened Condensed Milk and Foochow Egg Nog

The Foochows really like condensed milk in the early 50's and 60's. Life revolved around it in fact.

A good visitor would bring half a dozen of condensed milk as a gift. Hospital visits
could not happen without purchasing six tins of Nestle fresh milk. Young children loved a drink of milk which was sweet and tasty. The only milk most people knew was the sweetened condensed milk because refrigeration was still not a household item.

Fresh milk was only available to the rich as there was only one Indian family with several cows in Sibu providing the daily milk service. They were the sole distributors of fresh milk to the colonial civil servants beginning with the Resident at the top.

And a great welcoming drink to any one visiting the village rubber tappers' homes was a hot glass of milk with two fresh eggs - simply called the Foochow Egg Nog!! And that was indeed a gluey Warmest welcome of all. It had the reputation of being the most nutritious food of all times for the Foochows : it helps with blood circulation, it warms up the blood, and it drives away a cold. And then in whispers, the women had said that it was a manhold helping essence especially if the eggs were freshly laid. So far I have not known of any man trying out this in their research.

Perhaps a reference should be made to the invention of the World's First Infant Cereal here in my blog.

In 1867, Henri Nestlé, a chemist who lived in Vevey, became interested in baby food because of the high infant mortality rate in Switzerland at the time. Recognising the important need to help nourish infants, he developed and started manufacturing a milk food product for babies whose mothers were unable to breastfeed. Shortly after he created his pioneer product, it saved the life of a baby who had rejected his mother's milk. Henri Nestlé's new product soon became known worldwide as Farine Lactée Nestlé

The Nestlé Coat-of-Arms
Henri Nestlé called his company Societé Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé and used his name, which in German means "little nest" as his company logo - a nest with
a mother bird feeding her young. Since 1867, it has become a universally understood symbol, evoking a sense of security, maternity, affection, nature, nourishment, family and tradition. Today,it is the central element in Nestlé's corporate identity.

The First Merger
In 1905, the Nestlé Company merged with the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, the first condensed milk factory which opened in Switzerland in 1866. Nestlé entered into the milk chocolate business in 1904 when Peter & Kohler Swiss General Chocolate Company produced milk chocolate under the Nestlé trademark. The chocolate company later joined the Nestlé Group in 1929.

While the original business was based on milk and dietetic foods for children, the new Nestlé grew and diversified its range of products, through acquisitions
and mergers with the better known brands of the time. For example : The manufacturing of LACTOGEN began in 1921, and in the same year, a beverage containing wheat flour was marketed under the brand name MILO.

In 1938, NESCAFÉ, the world's first instant coffee was introduced. Then, in 1947, the MAGGI Company, manufacturer of soups and bouillon invented by Julius Maggi merged with Nestlé.

Nestlé continued to expand through the years with some major acquisitions :
1985 - CARNATION® - dairy and culinary products
plus pet foods.
1985 - BUITONI-PERUGINA® - traditional sector of Italian food, chocolate and confectionery
1988 - ROWNTREE® - chocolate and confectionery
1992 - PERRIER® - development of mineral water sector

Today, the Nestlé Company still adheres to its founder's beliefs and principles and is, therefore, very much people-oriented, and committed to understanding its consumers needs throughout the world in order to provide the best products for their lives.

Nestlé, the World Food Company
Nestlé is the largest food company in the world, marketing over 8,500 brands and 30,000 products.
It operates nearly 500 factories across 5 continents
and employs over 200,000 employees worldwide.

As the World Food Company, Nestlé is the provider of the best food for whatever time of day and for whatever time of your life. It is the only Company that provides
the food requirements throughout every day of your life.

Evaporated and condensed milk are two types of concentrated milk from which the water has been removed. Evaporated milk is milk concentrated to one-half or less its original bulk by evaporation under high pressures and temperatures, without the addition of sugar, and usually contains a specified amount of milk fat and solids. This gives regular evaporated milk—the shelf life differs with the fat content—up to 15 months of shelf life. Condensed milk is essentially evaporated milk with sugar added. The milk is then canned for consumer consumption and commercial use in baking, ice cream processing, and candy manufacture. This product has a shelf life of two years. When concentrated milk was first developed in the mid-1800s before the advent of refrigeration, many used it as a beverage. However, with the exception of some tropic regions, this is rarely the case today.


In 1852, a young dairy farmer named Gail Borden was on a ship headed home to the United States from the Great Exhibition in London. When rough seas made the cows on board so seasick that they could not be milked, infant passengers began to go hungry. Borden wondered how milk could be processed and packaged so that it would not go bad. This was a problem not only on long ocean voyages but on land, as well, because at the time, milk was shipped in unsanitary oak barrels and spoiled quickly.

When Borden returned home, he began to experiment with raw milk, determining that it was 87% water. By boiling the water off the top of the milk in an airtight pan, Borden eventually obtained a condensed milk that resisted spoilage. On another trip, this time by train to Washington, DC, to apply for a patent for his new product, Borden met Jeremiah Milbank, a wealthy grocery whole-saler. Milbank was impressed with Borden's ideas and agreed to finance a condensed milk operation. In 1864, the first Eagle Brand Consolidated Milk production plant opened on the east branch of the Croton River in southeastern New York.

Borden's new product was not an unqualified success. In 1856, condensed milk was blamed for an outbreak of rickets in working-class children because it was made with skim milk, and therefore lacked fats and other nutrients. Others complained about its appearance and taste because they were accustomed to milk with a high water content and that had been whitened with the addition of chalk. In spite of this criticism, the idea of condensed milk caught on to the degree that Borden began to license other factories to produce it under his name.

The outbreak of the Civil War proved to be good for business when the Union Army ordered the condensed milk for its field rations. At the height of the war, Borden's Elgin, Illinois plant was annually producing 300,000 gallons of condensed milk.

To differentiate his own product from that of the licensed plants, Borden changed the name of his condensed milk to Eagle Brand. About this time, two American brothers, Charles A. and George H. Page, founded the Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Company in Switzerland. One of their employees, John Baptist Meyenberg, suggested that the company use a similar process but eliminate the addition of sugar to produce evaporated milk. Meyenberg's idea was rejected. Convinced that his idea held merit, Meyenberg quit the company and emigrated to the United States. By 1885, Meyenberg was producing the first commercial brand of evaporated milk at his Highland Park, Illinois plant, the Helvetica Milk Condensing Company.

In the late 1880s, Eldridge Amos Stuart, an Indiana grocer in El Paso, Texas, noted that milk was spoiling in the heat and causing illness in children. Stuart developed a method for processing canned, sterilized evaporated milk. In 1899, Stuart partnered with Meyenberg to supply Klondike gold miners with evaporated milk in 16-ounce cans.

An article on homogenization in the April 16,1904 issue of Scientific American had an impact on the concentrated milk industry, which employed the process long before fresh milk plants. Further improvements followed. In 1934, Meyenberg's company, now headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and renamed the Pet Milk Company, became the first to fortify its evaporated milk with Vitamin D. This was accomplished by the process of irradiation, developed in 1923 by Harry Steenbock, a chemist at the University of Wisconsin. In this process, the milk is exposed to ultraviolet light, which causes reactions to produce Vitamin D, enriching the milk.

Raw Materials

The primary ingredient is raw cow's milk. Evaporated and condensed milk processors purchase the milk from nearby dairy farms.

A salt, such as potassium phosphate, is used as a stabilizing agent, which keeps the milk from breaking down during processing. Carrageenan, a food additive made from red algae (Irish moss) is used as a suspending agent. The milk is also fortified with Vitamin D through exposure to ultraviolet light. Powdered lactose crystals are added to concentrated milk to stimulate the production of lactose, a type of sugar that increases the milk's shelf life.

The Manufacturing Process

Evaporated milk

The raw milk is transported from the dairy farm to the plant in refrigerated tank trucks. At the plant, the milk is tested for odor, taste, bacteria, sediment, and the composition of milk protein and milk fat. The composition of protein and fat is measured by passing the milk under highly sensitive infrared lights.
The milk is piped through filters and into the pasteurizers. Here, the milk is quickly heated in one of two ways. The High Temperature Short Time method (HTST) subjects the milk to temperatures of 161 °F (71.6°C) for 15 seconds. The Ultra High Temperature (UHT) method heats the milk to 280°F (138°C) for two seconds.

Both methods increase the milk's stability, decrease the chance of coagulation during storage, and decrease the bacteria level.

The warm milk is piped to an evaporator. Through the process of vacuum evaporation, (exposing a liquid to a pressure lower than atmospheric pressure) the boiling point of the milk is lowered to 104-113°F (40-45°C). As a result, the milk is concentrated to 30-40% solids. Also, the milk has little or no cooked flavor.

The milk is then homogenized by forcing it under high pressure through tiny holes. This breaks down the fat globules into minute particles, improving its color and stability.
Pre-measured amounts of a stabilizing salt, such as potassium phosphate, are added to the milk to make it smooth and creamy. This stabilization causes the milk to turn a pale tan.
The milk is passed under a series of ultraviolet lights to fortify it with Vitamin D.
The milk is piped into pre-sterilized cans that are vacuum-sealed.
Condensed milk

The milk is flash-heated to about 185°F (85°C) for several seconds. It is then piped to the evaporator where the water removed.
The milk is then concentrated under vacuum pressure until it measures between 30-40% solid. It now has a syrupy consistency.
The milk is cooled and then inoculated with approximately 40% powdered lactose crystals. The milk is then agitated to stimulate crystallization. It is this sugar that preserves the condensed milk.
The milk is piped into sterilized cans that are then vacuum-sealed.
Quality Control

The milk industry is subject to stringent regional and federal regulations regarding the prevention of bacteria and the composition of solids and fats. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sweetened condensed milk must contain at least 28% by weight of total milk solids and at least 8% by weight of milk fat. Evaporated milk must contain at least 6.5% by weight of milk fat, at least 16.5% by weight of milk solids that are not fat, and at least 23% by weight of total milk solids. The evaporated milk must also contain 25 International Units (IUs) of vitamin D.

The milk is taste-tested for freshness before it leaves the dairy farm and again when it arrives at the processing plants. Once the milk arrives at the plant, it is not touched by the workers, making its journey from raw milk to evaporated or condensed strictly through pipes, vats, and other machinery. At least one-third of the labor time in the milk industry is devoted to cleaning and sterilizing utensils and machinery. Milk inspectors make frequent inspections.

And here is more for you to read:

Condensed milk was first developed in the United States in 1856 by Gail Borden, Jr. in reaction to difficulties in storing milk for more than a few hours. Before this development, milk could only be kept fresh for a few days and so was only available in the immediate vicinity of a cow. While returning from a trip to England in 1851, Borden was devastated by the death of several children, apparently due to poor milk from shipboard cows. With less than a year of schooling and following in a wake of failures both of his own and others, Borden was inspired by the vacuum pan he had seen used by Shakers to condense fruit juice and was at last able to reduce milk without scorching or curdling it. Even then, his first two factories failed and only the third, in Wassaic, New York, produced a usable milk derivative that was long-lasting and needed no refrigeration.

Probably of equal importance for the future of milk was Borden's requirements for farmers who wanted to sell him raw milk: they were required to wash udders before milking, keep barns swept clean, and scald and dry their strainers morning and night. By 1858 Borden's milk, sold as Eagle Brand, had gained a reputation for purity, durability and economy. The federal government of the United States ordered huge amounts of it as a field ration for Union soldiers during the American Civil War. This was an extraordinary field ration for the nineteenth century: a typical 400g (14 oz) can contains 1,300 calories, 30g each of protein and fat, and more than 200g of carbohydrate. Soldiers returning home from the Civil War soon spread the word. By the late 1860s, condensed milk was a major product. This type of milk is used in recipes for lemon meringue pie, key lime pie, caramel candies and other desserts. In parts of Asia, sweetened condensed milk is the preferred milk to be added to coffee. The Vietnamese use condensed milk to make their coffee, Cafe Sua Da.

You can be assured that a lot of Foochows out there can swear that condensed milk is something that is in the category of comfort food for many of them.

It is something that Foochow coffee shops cannot do without.

And today, my children still like to see me bring half a dozen of Nestle fresh milk to see friends who are in the hospital.

2 memories:

Mary Sunshine said...

A fascinating read.

Thank you very much for this.

sarawakiana said...

Once in a while I re - track and read my own posts to find someone has left a nice imprint - a sweet comment or a tickle for my brain.
Thus I found yours and keep the comment to make my day!

thank you. Do visit again.


web statistics