The Many Dangers of a Kulfi Recipe
March 17, 2007 11:11 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to try this kulfi recipe, but I'm afraid that I'll either cause an explosion or poison myself and my family. (Not a cooking self-esteem issue)

1. Can it possibly be safe to simmer an unopened can of evaporated milk for 20 minutes? Couldn't too much pressure build up in there and make it explode?

2. Are metal grocery cans safe cooking containers? Would cooking in them cause any kind of unsafe mineral leaching from the can into the food?

Perhaps I should be more concerned about the 1400 calories per serving, but I'll just say it: I'm not.
posted by textilephile to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: By law, canned food here in the USA has already been held at 240-250 degrees for a period of time. How long that period is depends on what food is in the can; the guidelines are different for different foods. But the can is sealed before this happens; that's why canned foods aren't full of live micro-organisms.

If you follow that recipe, the can can't get hotter than the boiling point of water, so that's well below what the can has already gone through.

With regard to the second question, then, it becomes apparent that it's not a question about this recipe, but a question about all canned food. Since I don't think that's a question you meant to ask, I'll leave it alone.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:25 AM on March 17, 2007

1) No, the cans won't explode. Pretty much all of your canned stuff on your shelves was cooked, in the cans, before the labels were pasted on and the cans were shipped to you. Boiling water just means that the vapor pressure of the water has reached one atmosphere, and presumably evaporated milk has a pretty similar vapor pressure at 212 F to water. One to two atmospheres is not high pressure. An aerosol can has 10 atmospheres of pressure and it's thinner than food cans.

2) The cans are steel, coated with tin, sometimes coated with plastic inside. Again, most "canned" food was cooked exactly like this before you ate it, so you'll probably be fine.

I don't see any real reason why you couldn't follow the more standard way of making egg/milk based ice cream: cook the milk (and usually the eggs) on the stovetop, then chill it and proceed.
posted by jellicle at 11:30 AM on March 17, 2007

Oh no, you'll be fine. I've done that with cans of condensed milk bunches of times. (instant dulce de leche!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:50 AM on March 17, 2007

Best answer: In my junior year at college, I lived in a house with five other women, one of whom made something that I bet was Ambrosia Voyeur's 'instant dulce de leche,' by cooking a can of sweetened condensed milk for ages, in a pot of water. We were hanging out in the living room when we suddenly heard a "BOOM" from the kitchen, and ran in with trepidation. The untended pot had boiled dry, and after that, the can indeed had exploded, and we had caramelized milk dripping from the ceiling and every conceivable surface beneath it. It took forever to clean up. So, no, it won't explode, unless you forget to watch it and the pot boils dry.
posted by daisyace at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2007

Not only should you keep the pot from boiling dry, but I think you need to keep the cans covered with water too.
posted by cabingirl at 12:26 PM on March 17, 2007

I can vouch for this recipe:

Cardamom pistachio kulfi with pineapple cones

No simmering closed cans required, because it uses condensed milk and thickened cream as well as evaporated milk. Pineapple cones optional, but the resulting syrup is really good.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:02 PM on March 17, 2007

As others have said above, it won't explode (but don't let it boil dry!)

I've heated a type of tinned pudding & also Christmas puddings in the same way, following the instructions on the tin itself, so it's fine. Really.
posted by different at 5:53 PM on March 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for your canned goods expertise! It looks like there's delicious homemade kulfi in my future.



It's a scoop of delicious e-kulfi, as a small token of my appreciation.
posted by textilephile at 5:51 AM on March 18, 2007

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