Condensed milk is a milk preparation, usually with cows’ milk, where water is extracted and sugar is added, which results in a dense and very sweet flavour that can be perfectly preserved for years if it’s canned in a vacuum, even without being refrigerated, as long as it’s not opened.
It was invented in the 19th century as a result of normal milk not being able to be stored without refrigeration for more than a couple of hours as it was contaminated with bacteria from the milking process of the animals, and its consumption often caused food poisoning.
In its manufacturing process, the water is extracted from the milk, applying what is called reduced or negative pressure or a vacuum, until you get a dense liquid. This process is known as thickening or concentration. Later on, sugar is added in a proportion ranging from 30% to 50%, depending on whether it is whole milk or skimmed milk, respectively. In order to guarantee its stability at room temperature, it is subjected to heat treatment. Condensed milk doesn’t need sterilisation because the high sugar concentration prevents the presence of germs on its own.
Condensed milk is used in countless recipes for sweets and desserts in countries like Spain, Brazil, Russia, Colombia, Panama, Chile, Peru, Venezuela or Mexico. In many South American countries, for example, it is used in rice pudding recipes. In the Basque Country, however, it’s an optional ingredient in the numerous recipes for the Basque pie named “goxua”.
Dulce de leche is a traditional caramel of which different countries claim origin and is considered a caramelised variation of milk. This product has different names depending on the country where it is consumed and also has some regional variations. It is widely used in desserts such as alfajores, muffins, pancakes, crepes, ice creams, waffles, pies or cakes.
Even though it is manufactured in different countries and on different sides of the ocean, none of them holds claim to its Denomination of Origin.
In Argentina, for example, it is said that a noble man demanded from his maid the cup of mate with milk that he had asked her for a while ago and that she, when she heard the request, remembered with fear that she had left the milk with sugar in the stove for too long. When she went back to get the milk, the maid found a thick substance with a caramel colour that tasted good. It is told that she gave the caramel to her master to try and he loved it so much that he shared it with his guest while they discussed state matters.
However, in Chile they say that this anecdote is made up from another event that occurred in Chile twelve years before and explain that, after the Andes Army arrived in Chile in 1817, this Chilean product was exported to Rio de la Plata and Peru by an Argentine noble who was fascinated by the caramel. On the other hand, in Paraguay and Uruguay, dulce de leche is also considered a national product. Some historians even say that dulce de leche was found in writings from different old cultures, from India to the Philippines.
Although the original caramel is usually cooked with cows’ milk, it can also be made with goats’ milk, even though it’s less common. In fact, each version of the name in the different countries where it is consumed represents precisely a variation in the manufacturing process. In Russia, for example, it’s generally made boiling it between 3 and 4 hours on a slow heat. In some regions it is cooked with cinnamon, in others with coffee or cocoa and in some others it is just the sugar proportion that varies.
In Jurado, to make it easier for you, we give you dulce de leche already made and ready to be consumed.