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Scalding is a term that is thrown about the kitchen frequently but whose precise definition is too often unknown.

In general, Scald means “to burn something as if with hot liquid or steam.” In practice it can also mean to subject something to hot water or steam. In this use of the word, Scalding would be akin to blanching or steaming depending on what is being heated and how it is done. 

Scalding, can also mean, to heat a liquid to just below its boiling point. The most common example is “Scalded Milk,” which means that the milk has been heated almost to its boiling point, or beyond. Milk boils at 180° F (82° C) which is hot enough to kill most bacteria (even the beneficial ones) and to de-nature the Milk Proteins.


Milk Watcher (also called a Pot Watcher or Boil Over Preventer) is a cooking tool that is helpful in minding heating milk so that it does not burn or scorch.

Culinary Uses

Milk is typically Scalded to Temper it, in this case raise its temperature for inclusion in some hotter item, or to change its consistency. For example, Scalded Milk is specified in original Béchamel Sauce recipes.  Scalded Milk is also called for in some Bread recipes or in Yogurt recipes so that none of the native milk Bacteria thrive over the desirable bacteria of the Yogurt Culture.

Because of the low boiling point, it is fairly easy to burn milk which is why scalding is sometimes used improperly to describe scorching or burning milk.