How-To Stop Milk from Curdling when Cooking It

Cooking Tip #2

When making dairy-based sauces or soups it is important to follow the following rules, otherwise you may end up with curdled milk.

~Never bring milk to a boil. Boiling milk will cause it to curdle.

~Warm milk slowly. Warming milk too quickly can also cause it to curdle, even if it doesn’t come to a boil. Heat milk gently over medium-low heat.

~Temper the milk. Do not add cold milk directly to a steaming hot liquid because it will likely curdle. Instead, add small amounts of the hot liquid to the cold milk; when the milk is warm add it to the hot liquid.

~Use a higher fat content. The higher the fat content, the less prone the milk will be to separating or curdling.

~Stabilize with a starch. Starches like flour help stabilize the milk and prevent it from separating when introduced as a paste (a mixture of flour and water).

~Avoid Strong Acids. Acidic ingredients like wine, tomatoes, lemon juice and even salt will cause curdling, unless the milk has been stabilized with a starch and thickened already.

How to Fix a Curdled Sauce

If a cream or sauce has separated and began to curdle, do not panic as it can be fixed.
Adding fat content to the separated sauce and gradually reducing the sauces temperature can reverse the curdling. Begin by immediately removing the curdled milk from the heat source. In a separate saucepan, gently warm a small amount of the dairy base until it is lukewarm. Then slowly add the curdled sauce to the separate saucepan, whisking constantly as you go until it has all been added. This should reverse the curdling.

Written by: J. Marshall

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