The condensed version

Like many on the Pacific rim, we have suddenly become obsessed with our distance from the sea, the safety of our neighbours’ brick chimneys and having an emergency kit. My sister, who is still dispossessed after the Christchurch earthquake, says that when people ask her how they can help the recovery, she tells them to get a disaster kit. She’s the reason why we now have plastic containers full of toilet paper, tinned food, bottled water and various other essentials in our garage. Hopefully, we’ll be in the happy position in a few months to have to eat all the disaster supplies because they’re reaching their expiry date rather than out of catastrophic necessity.

In the meantime, I’ve discovered a packet of milk powder in the cupboard that’s reaching its best-by date and rather than a) throw it away or b) drink it, I’ve been looking for things to do with it. My friend Ann puts a generous cupful into her extremely decadent homemade muesli (which I don’t make any more because we eat it straight from the jar in about a day) and I’ve been using it to make milk for breadmaking. You can also add a spoonful of the dried powder to enrich homemade yoghurt. But my favourite thing to do with it is make my own sweetened condensed milk – a handy trick for the committed condensed milk fan who doesn’t always have it in the cupboard. 

DIY Condensed Milk

Sweet things are good in a crisis, aren’t they? When disaster strikes and our house has sailed down into the next street, I’ll be the one with the fridge full of condensed milk.

1 cup milk powder (full fat, please)

3/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup freshly boiled water

Put everything into a jar, attach a well-fitting lid and shake like your life depends on it. Let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before using. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.



  1. March 21, 2011 / 6:11 pm

    For some reason I love recipes like this, where you have a lengthy process to make something that already exists, prepackaged and easy to buy straight off the shelf. One of the old ladies in the village I grew up with gave me this amazing recipe for 'truffles' which had a whole lot of icing sugar, melted butter and milk powder in them, they tasted amazingly like caramel and white chocolate. I will absolutely have to try this at some point – and agree with you that sweet things are good for the soul amongst all this bad news.

  2. March 21, 2011 / 6:53 pm

    Pure genius at work with this one!! I love condensed milk but don't like to buy the 'regular' brand for ethical reasons. so pleased to know I can make my own guilt free version. Thanks for sharing ;0)

  3. March 21, 2011 / 9:03 pm

    Amazing, so simple – had no idea you could make condensed milk.

  4. March 21, 2011 / 9:12 pm

    What a fab recipe. I do hope that you won't need that disaster kit.

  5. March 21, 2011 / 9:48 pm

    I have to try this, my favourite condensed milk recipes are the ones that call for only half a tin!
    There used to be a great caramel icecream recipe on the back of the label of the ready- caramelised condensed milk. You just stir up 1 tin of the milk with a bit of cream, then fold in the rest of the bottle of cream, softly whipped, and freeze, stirring occasionally.

  6. March 22, 2011 / 10:02 am

    never been a fan of condensed milk but I suppose it has its uses, especially for making caramel!…. I love that you're now prepared for the worst… it can't be a bad thing, you know the saying…. ' people fail to plan… they don't plan to fail'

  7. March 22, 2011 / 4:49 pm

    Wow, brilliant frugal recipe, you're a genius! I've lately been using condensed milk in baking and dessert recipes, especially sea salt flake caramel (my new craze) and it's not too cheap this side of the planet. Thank you 🙂

  8. March 24, 2011 / 3:40 am

    Classic – I never new you could make condensed milk! I hope this does not make me as bad as someone who thinks that custard can only be made with powder.

    I have just stumbled across your blog, it's very lovely.

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