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Many recipes call for first bringing milk up to boil.

I normally boil 1 quart (1 litre) of milk in a 3-quart stainless steel heavy bottomed pan:

  • use low heat
  • keep scraping the bottom of the pan every 1-2 minute
  • Milk comes to a boil in about 40-45 minutes

In spite of my carefully watching the milk, at the end, when I pour of the milk, I see a "crust" form on the pan. This makes cleaning up a pain.

Further, it is hard to constantly watch and scrape the milk every 1-2 minutes.

Is there a more convenient way to bring milk up to a boil?

Looking for:

  • Unattended, fool-proof method
  • Easy clean-up at the end.

Yes, I am aware of this other question:

However, my question is a bit different.

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possible duplicate of Quickest, and safest way, to bring milk to boil – Iuls Aug 15 '10 at 0:15
Suggest you put "unattended" in the title to distinguish it from the possible duplicate question. – Neil Fein Aug 15 '10 at 0:27
Hi joyjit. I updated the title to reflect the duplicate concerns. As you indicated, I think it will help emphasize the specific scope of your question. If you don't like it, feel free to change it back, though there is some momentum towards this question being closed and merged as a duplicate, which is probably not your first choice. – Ocaasi Aug 16 '10 at 4:45
up vote 8 down vote accepted

Boiling the milk in the microwave is the only way to do this "unattended", and that requires a lot of trial and error to get the time just right. It also won't work with many recipes that involve stirring anything into the milk while cooking.

Out of the microwave, I use a non-stick pan, but even that requires scraping the bottom from time to time a bit to prevent solids from forming. (I use a rubber spatula for this.) I usually boil the milk on its own and and combine it with the rest of the recipe later.

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Yup. I use a 1 litre pyrex measuring cup, about half full. Then you have to experiment. 500ml takes between 2 and 3 minutes. You'll have to watch it the first couple of times to get it right, but once you have the time figured out, it's completely unattended. – Chris Cudmore Aug 16 '10 at 13:29
Hard to believe, but this worked like a charm. In my microwave (approx 1300 watts I think), on HIGH setting, 1 qt (= 1 litre) of milk takes about 6m 30s. Thanks! – joyjit Sep 17 '10 at 0:13

To minimize the sticking and possible burning, first rinse your pan with cold water. Swirl the water around and pour out. Don't wipe the residual water from the pan. The thin layer of water that will remain is heavier in density than the milk and forms a thin film across the bottom of the pan making the casein (milk protein) less likely to stick and bond as easily with the bottom of the pan.

This doesn't make it fool-proof...if it boils and cooks too long it can still stick but if you're just scalding the milk it will minimize the amount of protein able to stick to the pan. As long as your just bringing it up to a simmer then you don't need to stir it during this process.

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Never used one myself, but what you need, I believe, is a Milk Watcher; a ceramic, glass or metal disk placed in the bottom of the pan. This will keep the milk circulating in the pan and prevent sticking and boiling over. You will be alerted that the milk is boiling by the rattling made by the disk.

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Wow, never heard of this before, very cool. – joyjit Aug 16 '10 at 17:36
anyone tried one of those? – Ciwan Jan 22 '15 at 14:47
  1. enamel pot - no stirring required.
  2. milk from a farmer - boils and boils

Use milk from a farmer. It might taste weird after years of drinking milk from a box, but my family buys milk from farmers and it boils so easily. First you put it in the fridge for a few hours to settle, then get the cream off the surface. If there's no cream then look for a better farmer who doesn't process the milk before selling :)

When you boil this kind of milk in a good old enamel pot you don't have to stir anything and it boils instead of running away :) I once forgot about my milk and came back a few minutes after it started boiling. Still everything was ok.

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Depending on the type of stove, a heat diffuser may help. Gas stove flames tend to concentrate heat on the parts of the pot directly above the flame, which can lead to issues with burning or overheating in those spots. A heat diffuser is a metal disk which will heat evenly to make sure that the pot doesn't have hot spots.

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Put cream in the milk. This prevents the milk from sticking. Put a wooden spoon in the milk pot; this will break the foam and prevent boiling over. Use medium heat.

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One new option came on market. No need to keep watch on Milk, Tea etc:

Just put on vessel and it remind you when it is ready.

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Requires an 18 gauge flat steel plate?! Wouldn't an upturned steel pot lid do the trick? They are generally slightly curved. How flat does the steel plate have to be? – Chris Steinbach Oct 28 '14 at 19:14
If the plate is required, they ought to sell it with the alarm. Who has an 18 gauge steel plate laying around? – Jolenealaska Oct 28 '14 at 19:29
@Jolenealaska : members of the Society for Creative Anacronisms. Unfortunately, it's in the shape of plate mail. (but not helms, those need to be at least 16ga). – Joe Oct 28 '14 at 21:59
We have bought one from , though it says 18 gauge , but one can use flat steel plate , which generally used to cover some pots also works... – user29069 Nov 3 '14 at 22:04

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