Should you boil packaged milk?

Boiling milk
Boiling milk. Photo: iStock/sezer66

For those who grew up drinking fresh cow milk, a storehouse of calcium and high-quality protein, a day without boiled milk sweetened or flavoured is unimaginable. Since it's not easy to source fresh milk from local dairy farmers these days, most households rely on packaged milk for their daily needs. But many continue the habit of boiling even if it is packaged milk. Is there a need to do that?

Packaged milk undergoes a process called pasteurisation, where the milk is heated to temperatures of 71°C (degree Celsius) to kill harmful bacteria and viruses such as Avian influenza virus, Mycobacterium, E. coli, Listeria, and Campylobacter, among others, and to increase its shelf life. Because of this pasteurisation process, it is generally safe to drink packaged milk without boiling.

However, if pasteurised milk is not stored at the correct temperature, it may be necessary to boil it to kill any harmful bacteria and viruses that could develop. Boiling milk can also increase the presence of medium and short-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial for people with milk indigestion due to protein allergy or lactose intolerance.

Boiling milk
Boiling milk. Photo: iStock/Qwart

It is important to note that many studies have shown that when milk is pasteurised at temperatures of 100 degrees Celsius or higher for more than 10 minutes, there is a significant decrease in the levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B2, B3, B6, and folic acid. Boiling milk for extended periods also reduces the amount of vitamin D, negatively affecting calcium absorption in the body. To minimise nutrient loss, it is best to heat milk for just four to five minutes.

How to prevent milk from boiling over
Use a large vessel - Select a large enough vessel to give the milk space to expand. Choose a vessel with a solid base to ensure uniform heat distribution, reducing the chance of a spillover.

Magic of a wooden ladle - Place a wooden ladle across the top of the vessel while boiling milk. The wooden ladle helps prevent the milk foam from rising and boiling over. Adding a pinch of salt can also help prevent spillover.

Use a heat diffuser: For gas stoves, using a heat diffuser can help distribute heat uniformly, preventing milk from spilling over while boiling.

Always keep an eye on boiling milk: Never leave the kitchen while the milk is boiling (remember the meme). Adjust the flame intensity periodically to prevent spillover, and stay near the boiling milk to monitor it closely.

The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility. According to the central government's IT rules, obscene or offensive statement made against a person, religion, community or nation is a punishable offense, and legal action would be taken against people who indulge in such activities.