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Gail Borden
(9 Nov 1801 - 11 Jan 1874)

American manufacturer, inventor and food scientist who invented a commercial method of condensing milk to preserve it.

Condensed Milk

Articles from: Scientific American (1853-1860)

The Scientific American periodical was published in New York.

2 Jul 1853

Preserved Milk, Coffee, Tea, and other Extracts

Gail Borden, Jr., formerly of Texas, but now of this city, to whom was granted a Council Medal at the World’s Fair of 1851, for his celebrated meat biscuit, has taken measures to secure a patent for some exceedingly valuable improvements in preparing and concentrating sweet milk in such a manner that incipient decomposition is completely prevented, and a concentrated extract produced either in cakes, or in a more fluid state, which will keep sweet in any climate for months and perhaps for years. We have kept a quantity of this milk for three months, and although it has stood in a tolerably warm place, it is as sweet to day as when we received it.

Mr. Borden, by the same improvements, extracts and concentrates coffee, tea, and other useful dietary matters, and produces those extracts in such a form that the strength of a pound of coffee can be carried in a vessel no larger than a small tea cup, and it will keep fresh in any climate, and for a number of years. We have given samples of the coffee, prepared by Mr. Borden repeated trials during the past four months, and cannot but speak in the most favorable terms respecting its good qualities, and the real benefits which we anticipate from its introduction into public use. For persons going on sea voyages, or on long overland journeys, a few small tin cannisters will be sufficient to equip them for partaking, with a little warm water, of a good milk and coffee beverage, properly sweetened, in the midst of the ocean, or in the depths of the forest.

For domestic use it will be the means of saving much in families, especially in warm weather, and at no time need there be any necessity for a person taking a cup of milkless coffee, even after a thunder storm, or a week of hot weather, with the thermometer daily at 97º in the shade, as it has been in this city during the past week.

The means by which Mr. Borden prepares his extracts are new, ingenious, and philosophical, but as measures are adopted for securing patents abroad, we cannot describe them at present, suffice it to say that although milk and other vegetable extracts have been made heretofore, the new process is entirely different and very superior. The milk prepared by the improved process of Mr. Borden, even after it is months old, will, when dissolved in warm water and left to cool, produce a beautiful and sweet covering of cream. The coffee and tea have all their aroma preserved, and retain all their peculiar qualities. In large dairies at a distance from cities, large quantities of sweet milk can be prepared by Mr. Borden’s apparatus, and sent down to be sold in every grocery, and it may yet become as common to ask for a cake of milk as it is now to ask for a quart. The mode of preparing these extracts is economical, safe, and certain, and we believe it is one of the best and most useful improvements that has ever been discovered.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 8, No. 42, 333. (source)

4 Nov 1854

Preserving Milk

The Abbe Moigno, of Paris, describes a mode of preserving milk, by which he has kept the article sweet for six months at a time. He does not tell us first how to get the pure article, but once obtained, this is his plan:

"The vessels used were cylindrical iron bottles, each fitted with a leaden tube at the top. The bottle and tube having been filled to the boiling point with milk so as to exclude the atmospheric air, the latter was pinched a little below the top, so as to close it completely. It was then cut off at the part pinched, and the bottle and what part of the tube remained being entirely free of air, no decomposing action could possibly ensue."

On the plans previously adopted, it had always been found inevitable to enclose a little air, so that it was necessary to expose it to a high temperature, in order that the oxygen in that bubble might be absorbed by the organic substance. The plan of Gail Borden, Jr., of Texas, (inventor of the Meat Biscuit,) for preserving milk, we consider far superior to this. It consists in evaporating the water in the milk, in a pan excluded from the atmosphere, and using a small quantity of sugar as a preservative. By this plan pure solid milk can be obtained, which can be carried about in very small bulk, from one end of the world to the other.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 10, No. 8, 64. (source)

5 Aug 1857

Concentrated Milk

Gail Borden Jr's patent process for concentrating and preserving milk has recently been put in successful operation in Burrville, Litchfield Co., Conn., and milk reduced to about two ninths its original volume is now sold in our city at about 32 cents per quart. It is becoming quite popular on steamships, and may be recommended to all who are sensitive on the subject of swill-fed milk in cities. Its taste is that of ordinary scalded milk, and the process of preparation consists in keeping it from the air and concentrating it as rapidly as possible by boiling in vacuo at a temperature of less than 130º Fah. In using it,water is simply poured in until the fluid is restored to its former condition. From personal experience we can recommend it as a better article for family use than most of the milk sold in this country, and equal to the best. Under ordinary conditions this milk will keep a little longer than common milk, but there are two ways in which it can ha preserved for months and probably for years. It may be hermetically sealed in cans, or may be combined in due proportion with pulverized sugar, the sugar being less than required by ordinary tastes as sweetening for tea or coffee. A third method, that of surrounding it with ice, will preserve it for several weeks. There is a prejudice against manufactured milk, but this article is simply pure country milk reduced in bulk by the loss of some 75 or 80 per cent of its water. We can vouch for the integrity of Mr. Borden, having known him for many years.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 12, No. 49, 387. (source)

30 Aug 1856

Concentrated Milk

Concentrating Sweet Milk. — A patent granted to Gail Borden, Jr., of Brooklyn, N.Y., for concentrating sweet milk in vacuo, embraces the discovery made by him, that to render concentrated sweet milk capable of long keeping and solution in water, it must be kept out of contact with the atmosphere during concentration, to prevent incipient decomposition. Milk concentrated by his process requires no antiseptic, like other concentrated milks; it is perfectly soluble in water, and it has been tested with great satisfaction in voyages across the Atlantic. Pure sweet milk can be concentrated in the rural districts, and sent to cities in tin canisters for sale and use. It is certainly a useful and valuable invention, enabling masters of vessels to use sweet milk on the longest voyages, and furnishing the dwellers in cities with pure sweet milk, not liable to become sour—as is the case with city milk. Numerous experiments during the past three years were made by Mr. B. before his process was perfected; in these he was eminently assisted by advice and the use of apparatus by Mr. John H. Currie, Pharmaceutest and Chemist, at his laboratory in this city.

From: Scientific American, Vol. 11, No. 51, 405. (source)

2 Jul 1860


The general use of milk, as well for the nursery as in various culinary preparations, justifies a frequent recurrence to the subject, calling attention to the character of the article. Milk, like blood, is a living fluid, and it will begin to die after removal from the seat of vitality, as soon as “a fish out of water.” It is so delicate a fluid that nature has provided that all young animals, as well as the infant child, shall receive it in such a way as to prevent any contact with the air. It was this idea that first turned Gail Borden’s attention to adopt a plan to prevent incipient decomposition, by condensing milk in vacuum, evaporating its watery elements as soon as it could be drawn and brought from the cow. Milk had previously been concentrated by various methods, several of which had been patented, but previous to Mr. Borden’s patented improvement, condensed milk had been used to a limited extent, principally by voyagers. Practically, it had not been produced at a sufficiently low cost to enter into competition with the sale of common milk. This has now been done. Mr. Borden claims that, by his process, milk can be condensed so rapidly and cheaply that the extra cost is more than balanced by what is saved in the reduced expenses of transporting it to market, and therefore it is now sold by the New York Condensed Milk Company at a less price than the best fluid milk. He claims that the milk is better, because it has not been exposed (as common milk must necessarily be) in its fluid state, from the time of milking to that of using it in the city.

By the process of Mr. Borden the milk is first heated by steam to a temperature of from 190º to 200º; then strained into a receiver connected with the vacuum pan, into which the milk flows in quantity indicated by the progress of evaporation. When reduced to the richness desired, which usually requires over 4 quarts of ordinary milk to make one of condensed milk, the latter is drawn from the pan and subjected to a second heating in the steam bath, to a degree indicated by the consistency; it is then again introduced into the vacuum pan where the ebullition goes on until the temperature of the milk is reduced by means of the vacuum and the use of cold water passing through the steam chambers. The milk is lastly put into 40-quart cans and immediately cooled down to a low temperature, when it is ready for the market.

Sometime ago, we noticed the above inscription of Mr. Borden, and we are happy to be able to state that it has now become a very large business in this city.

From: Scientific American, New Series, Vol. 3, 2-3. (source)

See also:
  • Science Quotes by Gail Borden.
  • 9 Nov - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Borden's birth.
  • Awards were presented for Borden's “Meat Biscuit” at exhibitions both home and abroad. At the London Great Exhibition, first class medals recognized Borden's invention, in the company of other American winners such as McCormick's “Virginia Reaper,” and Goodyear's “India Rubber Fabrics.”
  • Borden's Meat Biscuit - his first invention - preserved meat extracts. It drew much praise in several articles in the Scientific American periodical.
  • Condensed Milk - Borden's invention drew competitors, as shown in this Manufacturer and Builder article (May 1878).
  • Gail Borden and his Inventions - Links to articles on his inventions on this site.
  • Gail Borden - A biography published in 1866 from A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860.
  • Military Use of Borden's Meat Biscuit was recognized as highly suitable for meal rations, and was favorably compared in the Scientific American periodical against the difficulties experienced by other countries having to preserve meats for their military needs.
  • Gail Borden's First Invention was patented under the title “Preparation of Portable Soup-Bread”, issued as U.S. Patent No. 7,066, on 5 Feb 1850.
  • Gail Borden's Condensed Milk Patent gives Borden's description of his method in U.S. Patent No. 15,553 issued 19 Aug 1856 - the first effective commercial process in the U.S. for condensing and preserving milk.
  • Gail Borden's Fruit Juice Concentrating Patent shows his continuing interest in preserving more types of food detailed in U.S. Patent 35,919, issued 22 July 1862, titled “Improvement in Concentrating and Preserving For Use Cider and Other Juices of Fruits.”
  • Gail Borden: Dairyman to a Nation, by Joe Bertram Frantz. - book suggestion.
  • Booklist for Gail Borden.

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