Strike #1 is the lengthy heating time required to reduce the milk down to a condensed state which thoroughly denatures the fragile milk proteins. Denatured milk proteins do not digest well even for those with a healthy gut as the enzymes produced by the body to perform the task no longer fit together properly with the damaged and altered milk protein molecules.
Any undigested food molecules are prime goodies for any pathogens hanging around in your gut which are more than happy to take over control from your friendly and beneficial bacteria friends if given the chance.
Strike #2 is the large amount of refined white sugar that is typically used to sweeten the final product.
Even if you make the considerable effort to make your own sweetened condensed milk at home with unrefined sweeteners, the very serious digestive problem with the denatured milk proteins still exists. I find that eating anything made with sweetened condensed milk is asking for a stuffed up nose as this overly processed food is so incredibly mucous forming.
Strike #3. You’re outta here!
No wonder Dr. Weston A. Price derided sweetened condensed milk as one of three primary “displacing foods of modern commerce” in his seminal work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
Have we really struck out with sweetened condensed milk for good? It is so delicious, so decadent. There simply has to be a way to make this stuff healthy!
Hmmmm. How about this for an idea?
Whole coconut milk serves as a wonderful substitute for milk in many recipes, does it not?
Why not make sweetened condensed milk with whole coconut milk instead?
Coconut milk has very little protein (less than a single gram in a can of whole coconut milk) so the denaturing problem is no longer an issue like it is with dairy milk. In addition, making homemade sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk affords you the freedom to choose a whole, unrefined sweetener instead of white sugar and the natural sweetness of coconut milk permits less sweetener to be used!
So bring on those recipes using sweetened condensed milk! You will love the taste of your own homemade version and how you don’t feel tired and congested after eating it!
One word of advice: It is my experience that substituting sweetened condensed coconut milk for dairy sweetened condensed milk at a 1:1 ratio does not appreciably change the flavor of the recipe but it will probably extend the baking time a bit. For example, most key lime pie recipes say to bake at 350F for only 15 minutes if using canned sweetened condensed milk. But, if you use sweetened condensed coconut milk, I’ve found that 30 minutes at 350F is required for the pie to fully bake. So be flexible with your baking time when using sweetened condensed coconut milk and adjust as needed.
I’ve included a brief 15 second video below of the sweetened condensed milk getting mixed with some egg yolks as I make Key Lime Pie so you can see the color and consistency of the end result.
Sweetened Condensed (Coconut) Milk
2/3 cup sucanat or coconut sugar (sources)
Bring whole coconut milk to a boil in a medium sized pan. When the coconut milk starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and whisk in your sweetener, mixing thoroughly.
Continue to simmer for about 2 hours until the liquid is reduced by at least half or as much as two-thirds. You can be doing other things around the house and check and stir occasionally as it is reducing down.
The sweetened condensed milk will be dark and thickened once you reduce it down. Have a taste .. you will be amazed!
Allow to cool and use in your favorite dessert recipes calling for sweetened condensed milk. Refrigerate the unused portion. It will keep for several days.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist