Here are the unsolvable problems with this heavily processed food:
Strike #1: Lengthy heating time is necessary to reduce the milk down to a condensed state. This totally and thoroughly denatures the fragile milk proteins. Denatured milk proteins do not digest well and are allergenic. Even those with a healthy gut suffer damage to intestinal balance. The enzymes produced by the body to perform the task no longer fit together properly with the altered milk protein molecules.
Any of these undigested food molecules are prime goodies for any pathogens in the gut. There are always at least some (about 20% in a healthy gut). These unfriendly microbes 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. How? 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?
Solution: Make healthy sweetened condensed milk with coconut milk
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 a healthy 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 this sweetened condensed milk recipe and how you don’t feel tired and congested after eating it!
One Word of Caution
In my experience, substituting sweetened condensed coconut milk for dairy sweetened condensed milk at a 1:1 ratio does not appreciably change the flavor of the recipe. However, 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. As a result, be prepared to adjust your recipes with regard to baking time when using sweetened condensed coconut milk.
Note: If you prefer, brands of dairy free sweetened condensed milk are available for purchase! This is the brand of organic sweetened condensed milk I now use and recommend. It saves a load of time if you prefer not to make it yourself.
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
Note that the healthy sweetened condensed milk recipe below freezes nicely. This allows for you to make it ahead for holidays and special occasions to have on hand as needed. Very convenient!
Healthy Sweetened Condensed Milk Recipe
Easy non-dairy sweetened condensed milk recipe that is perfect for all your dessert making needs in place of commercial brands.
Bring whole coconut milk to a boil in a medium sized pan.
When the coconut milk starts to bubble, 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.
This sweetened condensed milk recipe is thickened once you reduce it down. Have a taste .. you will be amazed! If you used sucanat or coconut sugar, it will be quite dark as shown in the picture.
Allow to cool and use this sweetened condensed milk recipe in any of your favorite desserts. Refrigerate the unused portion. It will keep for several days.
Coconut sugar or sucanat may be substituted for evaporated cane sugar. Only do this if a richly flavored sweetened condensed milk will not alter the recipe that it will be used in.
Feel free to use homemade coconut milk instead of canned if you prefer.
I don't recommend coconut milk in cartons as it is watered down.
How to Make Sweetened Condensed Milk Video
I’ve included a brief 15 second video below of the sweetened condensed milk recipe being made. I chose to use sucanat as the sweetener which is why it turned out dark. This wholesome sugar is mixed with some egg yolks as I make my family’s favorite key lime pie recipe. Notice the mineral rich color and consistency of the end result.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Weston A. Price Foundation.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.