In some cases hot milk is needed.
My example is a ready made mixture for milk rice.
The direction says I should heat the milk until it shows foam raising, which often raises up to the rim (or more).
I would think it is enough to heat to 2 °C below boiling should be ok, for example? Or to when it almost boils, from experience?

Why is this needed?
Just to assure the milk is heated to it's boiling point? Or maybe to have some specific reactions taking place?

  • 1
    Milk rice should work fine with almost boiling milk, but perhaps someone knows some secret reason. How do you know that it's 2°C below boiling? This actually isn't trivial, I remember the setup we had in the lab back in the day to get something within a couple of °C variance, that's not something you can reproduce in the kitchen. One advantage of saying that you should wait until it boils is that all you need is a pot, heat and milk. You don't know that it "almost" boils by just looking at it. Of course you can make a science out of milk rice, but why not keep it simple and efficient?
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 10:22
  • @Raditz_35 "How do you know that it's 2°C below boiling?" - good point! I find the boiling temperature, and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. A contact thermometer is to slow, so I use an infrared thermometer, setting it to the right ems. Need to stir. (Apart from that, it is not central - just assuming the measurement would work is enough.) "You don't know that it "almost" boils by just looking at it." That needs some training, of course. "why not keep it simple and efficient?" Because my scientific curiosity is more hungry than my stomach. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 11:40
  • So this is a purely academic question? Anyhow, your comment suggests that you've already done this. Is that the case? Or is that just a description of how you would do this if you had to?
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 11:58
  • @Raditz_35 The part from "I would think it is enough" is theoretic - like "why no different, eg...". I do enjoy milk rice, but every time I boil the milk, it remembers me to finally find out what's going on there. Having a different solution has actual, practical advantages: You do not need to exactly catch the short time between start of boiling and leaving the container. You can come by earlier, check temperature, say "ok, good enough", and stay relaxed. Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 12:06
  • A water bath would provide the same benefits in this case, a bit less complicated, cheaper and a lot safer. Anyhow, the important thing with milk rice is the starch from the rice, not the milk. You can make vegan "milk" rice with water.
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 12:12

1 Answer 1


There are some applications where actually boiling the milk is needed, for example when you want to precipitate out some of the proteins - they build that fuzzy film on the bottom and the skin on top during cooling. In other cases, it is about sterilization - for example for yogurt, you keep the milk boiling for longer time, and it is almost impossible to keep it at just under boiling, unless you make a sophisticated thermoregulated setup and take the extra time needed to heat it slowly so you don't overshoot.

You also have to consider whether the temperature is needed by ingredients other than the milk and the starch. For example, if you are making a pudding with both starch and yolks, you have to hold it a couple of minutes at boiling to deactivate the amylase.

For milk rice, you don't strictly need boiling, but you have to get really close. Different starches thicken at different temperatures, but practivally all I have read about are between 94 and 100 Celsius. So if your starch hits the sweet spot at 97.2 C, then just watching it and noticing that it is very close to a boil is not of much help. First, you run the risk of stopping too early, which will ruin the milk rice(as opposed to stopping after it boils, which will result in good milk rice). Second, the last few degrees of milk boiling go so fast, you may not manage to remove it from the heat before boiling anyway.

If you know the exact temperature for the starch you are using, you could in principle get away with making milk rice a couple of degrees lower. It is rather impractical, but possible.

  • 1
    Oh, a range of 94 to 100 is indeed very tight. So practically it would not be of use - but it was mainly a motivating example; the theory, which you wrote about, is what I was really interested in. So... that's worth a check mark! (But I'll wait for others.) Thanks! Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 23:51

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