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Nonfat condensed and evaporated milk in SAVORY recipes--how, specifically, to do?

Normandie Sep 3, 2009 07:39 AM

I've been reading some of the old threads regarding alternatives to cream, etc. Most folks seem to agree that nonfat Half and Half is not the way to go, and several people mention the fat-free condensed and evaporated milk.

I've never used these two items, except perhaps in sweets.

How do you use them as substitutes in cream-based soups or to do a little impromptu "creamy" pan sauce for pasta, etc.? TY if you can help.

  1. todao Sep 3, 2009 11:20 AM

    I have never understood why, in pursuit of a low fat diet, some people believe that low fat or "nonfat" condensed milk is somehow superior to "nonfat" Half and Half. First of all, non-fat half either isn't non-fat or it isn't half and half. If you read the label you'll see it has more to do with chemistry than dairy. The difference you'll find in using condensed/evaporated milk is the flavor of the dish. It lends a cooked flavor to recipe but, I suspect because it's combined with other ingredients, it's not usually detectable.
    I think we should keep in mind that, while it's important to be vigilant about fat in our diets, some vitamins are not water soluble and our bodies need some fat to process these vitamins. A totally fat free diet means we cannot get the benefit of these fat soluble vitamins.

    4 Replies
    1. re: todao
      Caitlin McGrath Sep 3, 2009 12:14 PM

      There is a big gulf between choosing nonfat dairy products in cooking and "a totally fat free diet," and I doubt nutrient delivery is an issue for those who, like me, choose to or need to minimize the amount of saturated fat in dishes we cook.

      I'm not aware of any condensed milk that is not sweetened, so I don't think it will be appropriate for savory dishes. I agree that evaporated milk can impart a "cooked" flavor, so I think it's more successful in things like casseroles than it is in soups.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath
        Normandie Sep 3, 2009 10:42 PM

        But by "evaporated" people mean the milk in the cans, right, Caitlin? I mean as opposed to powdered milk?

        1. re: Normandie
          LauraGrace Sep 4, 2009 06:13 AM

          Yes, evaporated milk is in cans.

      2. re: todao
        Normandie Sep 3, 2009 10:40 PM

        We don't have a fat free diet in my house, todao. First of all, we're meat and fatty-fish eaters (though I keep meat portions small, relative to grains and produce). Also, I use a great deal of olive oil and usually a pat of butter to finish off pan sauces, plus we use 1-percent or 2-percent milk generally, rather than skim.

        But I do try to make sure that most of the fats, except for the occasiona treats, are mono- or polyunsaturated. I think that's important. There's really no need beyond taste and texture for me to add cream to our diets, and it wouldn't be beneficial, given the healthier fats we do eat.

        But you're right that we do need healthy fats in our diets and unfortunately that truth has gotten confused in recent years.

      3. l
        LauraGrace Sep 4, 2009 06:23 AM

        I've used evaporated milk in place of cream in casseroles, baked goods, and Indian food. Although, not all Indian recipes that call for cream will work with evap. milk, IMO -- I use it in dishes like navrataan korma, that have more textural complexity, but I hold out for heavy cream in the pseudo-Indian chicken tikka masala since it's basically chicken in that gorgeous creamy sauce. Make sense?

        Oh, and it's great in bread recipes to make the loaf softer and richer!

        I think that it probably wouldn't make a great pasta sauce. Typically if I use cream in a pasta sauce, it's such a small amount that I don't get stressed about it. Soup... I don't know about that. I prefer my cream soups made with milk, broth, and a splash of cream (or cream cheese! Yum!), so I don't have experience with trying to make a fully cream-based soup.

        And I agree with todao that nonfat "half and half" has more to do with chemistry than anything else. I think it would be healthier to consume the real thing rather than some weird Franken-food with a list of unpronounceable ingredients as long as my arm! :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: LauraGrace
          alkapal Sep 4, 2009 07:14 AM

          laura, in defense of murgh makhani (sister of CTM) -- it isn't pseudo indian. sorry to nit-pick, but that is one of the nits that i always pick. nothing personal. ;-)).

        2. alkapal Sep 4, 2009 07:05 AM

          the only condensed milk i know of is *sweetened* condensed milk.

          evaporated milk is basically milk, but in a sense "double strength" as a result of the "evaporated" liquid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evaporated_milk
          thus, it's creamy without all the fat of pure cream, so to speak. here's a better (wiki) description: ""Evaporated milk is fresh, homogenized milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed. After the water has been removed, the product is chilled, stabilized, packaged and sterilized. A slightly caramelized flavour results from the high heat process, and it is slightly darker in colour than fresh milk. The evaporation process also concentrates the nutrients and the food energy. Thus, for the same weight, undiluted evaporated milk contains more food energy than fresh milk."""

          i just used some last night to make some "burger bundles." it tenderizes and binds the meat. here's a recipe. http://www.recipezaar.com/Stuffed-Bur...

          "fat-free" stuff has -- typically -- extra sweetener, and loads of those crappy vegetable gums! argh. horrid stuff.

          people need fat. just don't overdo it. simple.

          1. greygarious Sep 4, 2009 07:22 AM

            To answer your specific question as to how to sub evaporated milk for cream in soups and sauces: a one-for-one swap as far as measuring is concerned. It does pretty well standing in for half-and-half or light cream, but is not rich enough to understudy for heavy or whipping. The other plus in using evaporated milk is that it keeps cheese sauces from breaking or being grainy, even without using flour, so it's a natural for making macaroni and cheese.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious
              danna Sep 4, 2009 10:18 AM

              exactly. for example, I melt a tiny bit of butter, stir in flour, cook it a minute or two to make a very dry roux, then slowly add evap low fat milk while stirring. It makes a low fat cream sauce, to which i add 2% cheese (Either Kraft or Cabots) to make a creamy not-so fat-laden base for mac and cheese. Then, I whip in some eggs, a few extra whites (so the mac and chesse will set up...I don't do the creamy version) and layer with noodles.

              I add a small quantity of full-fat, very high quality cheese...like a cave aged gruyere or something. The strong flavor of a great cheese goes a long way, but by making the bulk of the mac and cheese the way I described I save calories and cash.

            2. n
              nemo Sep 4, 2009 10:50 AM

              Evaporated milk, even non-fat, works great in quiches. Use one-to-one measurements. I've also used it when making dumplings that cook and steam on top of a stew.

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