To boil or not to boil?

To boil or not to boil?

I was at the doctor’s a few days back with an extremely painful neck and
shoulder. Looking at my X-Ray he tut tutted all over it then pronounced
‘Cervical Spondilitis’ – which I believe is pretty common these days. He also
found ‘abysimally low’ levels of Vitamins D and B.
He went on to prescribe,
along with a bunch of medicines, more time outdoors (which I liked), swimming
(which thrilled the kids since I’m never able to make time to take them
swimming) and a bunch of medicines. He also asked me to stop boiling the milk that I had everyday. 
What? Not boil milk?
Hasn’t that been an intrinsic part of my morning routine? Just as it was my
mom’s and her mom’s too.
However, what the doctor
said made sense – If we are drinking pasteurised milk we don’t really need to
boil it. Pasteurisation meant it had been boiled and cooled already, the
bacteria had been taken care of. When we boil it again, he said, we kill the
vitamins, specially those of the B Group.
A look at google pretty
much confirmed what he said but confused me too. I had no clue there was so
much science to boiling milk the correct way. I mean you put it in a pan, put
it on the stove, watch it till it comes up then switch it off. Right?
Wrong. I found a bunch of dos and don’ts and I got so confused that I
wiped them clean off my mind.
I decided to do my own

Here’s why I felt I needed to boil the milk: 
1. The packets are often so dirty that it is difficult to believe the milk they contain is safe.
2. After boiling I
could remove the layer of cream and get toned milk (the fight against
fat, remember?)
3. The milk lasts longer
once it is boiled.
4. And lastly of course – generations of habit.
I have now struck a mid-path
to make sure I get my vitamins:

1. I wash the
packets thoroughly before I cut them open. 
2. I switched to double
toned milk. A friend suggested switching to cow’s milk – I might do that – it’s
lighter on the stomach.
3. I try to consume it on
the same day and boil only what I need to carry over to the next day.
It seems to be working
fine as of now.
So do you boil your milk
or was it only me all this while?

30 Replies to “To boil or not to boil?”

    1. Ha ha Sid I know how it is. But supplements are cumbersome and I'm looking at it as cutting out one daily chore. Isn't that something?

  1. Oh no! I boil it all the time. I want it hot. Gosh! These things confuse me so much. The whole pasteurized and skimmed – low fat, cholesterol free thing!

    Hope you are feeling better Tulika. Take care and get back up soon!

    1. Me neither Parul. But this one I took the trouble to find out. Pasteurisation, according to H and N's text book, is the process of heating milk to high temperatures and cooling it rapidly to kill the harmful bacteria.. FYI :-).

  2. Hahaha, we all boil milk, I guess. But glad doctors' advice was an every opener.
    I learned a bit too.

    Btw, we all are deficient in Vit B and D…that's what I got to know few months back.

  3. Ah Tulika. Hope you are better now. Been suffering a terrible headache since 3 days. Comes and goes. Yikes. About the milk, the packets are yuck and also because I am not sure if these delivery guys refrigerated it properly. So many times while boiling the milk I find out that it has spoiled. Mostly in summer. Hence I always boil the milk. In US though I used to drink it right from the can. Actually I preferred the cold milk for cornflakes.

    1. Ugh headaches are terrible. They render you totally unproductive. Hope you are better now. I love cold milk and Cornflakes too.

  4. I did not know this at all… GEez and I have always been boling the milk for my kids… MAkes sense… I should avoid the boiling henceforth

  5. OH NO and after reading the comments its a bigger OHHHH NOOOO .. I dont boil my milk.. simply pour it in a glass add my sugar and coffee and 3 minutes microwave .. nice and hot ..

    oooops I better start to boil but then its rush rush rushhh in the morningsssssssssssssss


  6. I have read and heard about it, but I can't digest the idea of having milk without boiling it first. In fact, I don't even know these days whether, what I'm getting in the name of milk, is actually milk or not! Vitamin D deficiency seems to be common these days. I'm also on supplements for it since over a year. Supplements just don't work way the way sunlight does. So soak up all the sun that you can.

    1. You're right. It's nicer to get the vitamins from the food we eat. However as we grow older supplements become a reality we have to live with. For now I'm going with the milk though.

  7. I hope you are feeling better now Santa!

    I always boil the milk I buy after washing the packet thoroughly. I boil it as many times as I can too. Because I need my drinks to be piping hot always!

    You better take care of yourself. If you were in Bangalore, I'd send you a cake to make you feel better 🙂

  8. here I buy bottled milk and drink it as is, unless I am making hot chocolate. But I never realised there was this much science behind it. Thanks for sharing. Hope you are feeling better.

  9. Ya, that was one of the things I learned as a doc, not before that. And yes, more time outdoors is the one thing I dont get in my life and it has resulted in a Vitamin D deficiency for me too… not that I can do much about it sitting inside an operation theatre.

  10. O everyone does. I mean who doesn't boils milk? But you know what, I like it better without boiling. The taste is so good like that, don't you think? That's a nice tip that I got from you 🙂

    Thanks a lot Tulika 🙂


  11. Tulika – weird not to boil the milk cuz coffee needs really hot milk to taste great (even though I really don't drink it piping hot – prefer to gradually sip it from hot to lukewarm). But yes, no need to boil pasteurized milk – however, as you said the packets stink outside and it is so hard to consume directly. I remember a cousin of mine who was perpetually late would simply cut the pack directly drink and toss it.

    Incidentally, even if you boil the milk, it spoils by evening depending on the weather. So – I guess always refrigerate.

    Which brings us back to Square A. If you love coffee, the milk HAS to be boiled. Sigh.

    Get well soon. There are some excellent exercises for cervical spondylosis that help a lot – worth doing them regularly. I will find the bunch and msg you. Hugs! Swimming and the other stuff sound fun anyway!

    1. Yes of course for tea and coffee we need to boil it but for consumption otherwise we can go without the boiling. I'm looking some neck strengthening exercises. Thanks.

  12. I don't boil the milk anymore unless I'm making coffee. I just warm it up from the pack directly in the microwave. Also, neck pain, cervical spondylitis are all alarm bells. Remember my neck and shoulder pain? And the prolonged agony? Yep. That was what it was. More time outdoors and swimming are definitely doable for me. This is a wake up call. Thanks Tulika. And please take care

    1. You're one smart person. There I was listening to H and N study Pasteurisation in the chapter on 'Methods of Food Storage' and yet it never struck me. Habit makes us blind.

  13. of course boil the milk, look at it steadfastly and then get bored. Look somewhere else and then panic when the milk is already spilling. Curse yourself for doing it every time. Wipe the extra milk & sleep peacefully.

    Take care my dear!

    1. Lol! Smita – milk has a way of boiling over the moment your attentions flags for that fraction of a second, isn't it? Some kind of a sadistic trait. it's been happening to me for years now.

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