Adding steamed or frothed milk to an espresso or double espresso will create a wonderful tasty drink. The milk steaming process heats the milk to about 145-150°F, if the milk is heated over this temperature it will become flat and lose much of its flavour. Steaming milk not only heats the milk but also adds body and changes the texture. When milk is steamed, the foam, or the air that has been added to the milk to give it its additional volume, is incorporated throughout the entire volume of milk. The milk should not be allowed to sit after the steaming process as it will dry out and leave a light airy foam. Steamed milk should have a smooth, velvety texture that when mixed with an espresso gives you a cappuccino. When preparing a latté or mocha the milk is left to separate as this is required for their production.
Important points when steaming milk
- When steaming milk it’s important to use a stainless steel jug. Never fill the jug more than one third of its volume as the milk will expand during the steaming process.
- Always purge the steam wand before steaming milk. This removes any milk that is caught in the steam wand from previous steamings.
- Place the tip of the steam wand just below the surface of the milk. Hold the jug at an angle and turn on the stream wand.
- As the steam is applied to the milk, it should start to swirl in the jug. If this does not happen the steam wand may be too deep in the milk.
- If you hear a high pitched noise, the steam wand is too close to the sides or the bottom of the jug.
- Once the sides of the jug are too hot to hold and when the thermometer is registering 145-150°F turn off the steam.
- When preparing a cappuccino tap the jug gently on a hard surface, this will help get rid of any large air bubbles in the milk. The jug should also be swirled around so that the milk and the foam infuse together. The steamed milk must be used immediately to avoid it drying out.
Preparing Steamed Milk