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Evaporated Milk

Where are you from and how is (was) it used?

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  1. From California, and evaporated milk wasn't used for anything but Libby's-recipe pumpkin pie while I was growing up. Now and again I used it in place of cream in cooked or baked dishes, to save fat and calories, but that has naught to do with where I'm from.

    1. I have two cans of evaporated milk. I specifically remember that I bought them to make a recipe.... but I forgot which recipes I bought it for. :P

      Since you nicely mentioned it, I decided to pop one open and am now drinking it. And now just added some tea leaves and microwave it. :P

      1. DC,Europe and Montana equal ties to all,with most of ten years in Asia,Pacific rim

        Ever since I can remember we always had it on hand.I still do,all three fat percentages as a just in case sort of thing. Also powdered and Parmalat
        Bechamel,puddings and custards,cheese sauce,cake,coffee and tea,12oz + 12oz h2O into a gallon of milk a quart down.It isn't my first choice milk product,but it will stretch fresh milk,saving a trip to the store that may not have milk or power.Handy in a pinch.

        1. So California. I don't use it at all now but when I was a kid it was basically a substitute for cream. I remember pouring it on jello and oatmeal and also adding it to a frying pan of frozen hash browns to make these creamy potatoes that were then topped with cheddar cheese until melted.

          1. Added to Mac and Cheese=extra velvety texture
            Added to soup=thicker and creamy texture
            Added to a chicken pot pie=extra creamy
            It is a great ingredient, and I use it often. It is lower in fat the cream but is a good substitute for it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ruthie789

              Oh yes, it used to be the "secret" ingredient in my Kraft Dinner.

            2. I'm a country boy that grew up in many different places (Navy kid). We used it, mixed with an equal amount of water, as a milk substitute (so to speak) to make cream gravy. It can be used in mashed potatoes to make them richer. There are plenty of uses.

              1. At times when I was a kid, we lived in a rural tropical area, and reconstituted evaporated milk was the only option. I did not like the taste. Now my opinion is that the taste isn't bad, it's just different from fresh milk.

                Since we (my wife and I) don't drink much milk, I use powdered milk or evaporated milk in cooking. Evaporated works fine in a cheese sauce, or dishes like rice pudding. Coconut milk is another option.

                For some cooked applications it may be better than fresh, because it does not curdle.

                1. There is something about the sweet/canned flavor of evaporated milk that makes it not an equal choice to cream.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: escondido123

                    I grew up without a fridge, in New Zealand.
                    On special occasions, we kids would sometimes make 'flummery', which has a perfectly respectable English pedigree that doesn't involve beating a can of evaporated milk into a bowl of half-set jelly!

                    1. re: escondido123

                      depends on what you use it in. It's used in many places for coffee creamer, and it's great in soups and sauces, as the other flavors tend to cover the tinned flavor.

                      Evaporated milk has no added sugar -- are you thinking, perhaps of sweetened condensed milk, which is, in some places, called evaporated sweetened milk?

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I am from southern California and was born in the 1950's. Mom would use it for coffee creamer, in pumpkin pies, etc. The doctor prescribed regular evaporated milk and Karo syrup as a baby formula for my younger sister in the early 1960's. Can you imagine that today?

                        1. re: Antilope

                          I recall making up baby formula with evaporated milk!

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          I find evaporated milk to have a sweet taste also. Certainly not nearly as sweet as condensed milk, but definitely sweeter than regular milk. If you think the process through, it makes sense. Since only water has been removed, everything else, including the lactose, is now more concentrated.

                          1. re: CanadaGirl

                            I'm glad it's not just me that's losing the run of my gustatory senses. i.e., if I am, at least I have company!

                            Few things are quite as sweet as condensed milk. The impression is not so much "sweetened milk" as "slightly milky syrup"...

                      2. i live in Southern California. I buy evaporated milk when a recipe calls for milk because I don't drink milk and don't have it on hand. It works fine. I can purchase in small amounts and that is an adavantage.

                        1. Growing up in Hawaii I remember the grownups using it for coffee creamer. These days in CA I use it for pumpkin pie, flan, and tres leches. It's a childhood thing that I reserve a sip to savor.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: letsindulge

                            My Portuguese grandma did exactly that

                          2. Besides in tres leches cake, I always keep it on hand in case the power goes out.
                            Growing up in the Philippines, power outages were extremely frequent, and even when the power was on, we grew up drinking glasses of 50% evap with 50% water. Not quite the same as fresh, but it still works.

                            1. Growing up in the 60's in NJ, my mother used it to cream her coffee.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                I don't think this has anything to do with my New York upbringing or my life in Florida, but somewhere along the way (can't recall anybody or anywhere, specifically) I tried Evaporated milk as the creamer for my coffee, and I have used it for the last few years. Its good.

                              2. Massachusetts, and as one would use half and half or light cream. The shelf stability was a huge plus.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: pinehurst

                                  Nestle makes small cans of light cream. I've seen these mostly in Hispanic groceries (Crfema media)


                                2. Just so you people know. I am making Jello so that I can pour my evaporated milk on it (I haven't tried that probably since childhood -- I usually use whipped cream instead)

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                    Chemicalkinetics, just make sure you call it 'flummery': the name's half the fun!

                                  2. B.C. My parents used canned milk for coffee & tea, & my Mother Lways used it diluted 1/2 +1/2 in her baking. I don't use it as much myself, may e some baking & sauces, but I do keep a good stock of canned milk in our emergency survival backpacks.

                                    1. When cold, evaporated milk whips up like whipped cream. For dessert, Mom gave us applesauce topped with whipped (and probably sweetened) evaporated milk, which I liked to marble through the applesauce. Ah, I have fond memories of that. It was so delicious to me as a child.

                                      1. I am from Texas. We never used evaporated milk in my childhood home for anything we made regularly, but in TX it would be a staple for some tejano and Mexican desserts like flan or pastel de tres leches.

                                        Living abroad, I have seen it used very prolifically in tea. Everyone knows masala tea (what is commonly called chai-tea in N. America), but many people don't make traditional versions of milky tea. Instead, they use a tea bag in a cup with hot water, and add in evaporated milk from a can because it somehow is a fast (and perhaps cheaper with less spoilage) way to replicate the taste of thickened scalded milk. Obviously real thickened scalded milk tastes very different and is much more delicious, but the usage of evaporated is standard, especially in situations where there is a serve-yourself tea set up with hot tea in a dispenser, sugar, and a can of evaporated milk at an office meeting or a gathering of some sort. Gulf Arabs also drink tea with milk similar to South Asian tea with milk, and in Gulf countries you can buy evaporated milk that is cardamom flavored. I think it is Western brands produced for the Gulf market like Rainbow and Carnation. In addition to evaporated milk, many people use milk powder to make their "chai-tea" in these countries in South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: luckyfatima

                                          evaporated milk that is cardamom flavored

                                          --- that sounds lovely.

                                        2. I think of it as poor man's whipping cream. As a kid it was only used pumpkin pie and occasionally for holiday mashed potatoes. I don't use it at all.

                                          1. I grew up in Massachusetts in the 40's and 50's. My Mom used evap. milk in her coffee. She also made N.E. fish and clam chowders with it just as the old time fishermen did. On the fishing boats they had canned evap. milk, potatoes and cod and made their meals that way. I still use it to make fish chowders and some times use it for pumpkin pie.

                                            1. Ohio originally, but my cooking roots are more Midwestern/Californian/culinary "academian." That wasn't something in mom's cupboard, but Gramma Mimi did lots of baking and so always had some around. To home, I've always got a few cans around, and I use it in Pumpkin Pie per the classic recipe, and it works REALLY well in scalloped potatoes. But my #1 use for it, if I haven't got actual cream on hand, is in the gravy I make to serve over biscuits.

                                              1. I just caught part of a No Reservations Dominican Republic episode. Tony sampled an evaporated milk plus orange juice mocktail type drink called morir soƱando. Looked interesting.

                                                2 Replies
                                                  1. re: alkapal

                                                    In the DR, they make delicious shakes with evaporated milk and different fruits, like fresh papaya (called lechoza).

                                                1. Grew up in NJ and we always had evap on hand for my Dad, who used it, IIRC, pretty exlusively as a topping for fresh fruit desserts. His background was English, and his family had a history of heart disease, so it might have been a compromise for cream, or maybe something he learned to learned to like in the S. Pacific during WW II.

                                                  1. Chicago
                                                    non-sweetened, evaporated milk (eg PET milk) - when I was a kid, it was used for oatmeal, coffee

                                                    sweetened, condensed milk - use it now for Thai iced tea (if not using whole cream), various desserts (eg icebox pies)

                                                    1. From Scotland. Mainly a dessert topping for me, though I think it's also used in various "traybake" sweeties. Not the (in)famous ta(i)blet, though: that calls for condensed milk.

                                                      I watched the ATK in which they used it in "light" macaroni cheese in some consternation -- the local EM is significantly sweetened, so that wouldn't work at all! After googling it became clear that US EM is unsweetened.

                                                      Anyone know of an alternative to unsweetened EM for such "applications"?

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: alaimacerc

                                                        In the USA, there is a clear distinction between 'Sweetened condensed milk' and 'Evaporated milk'. Most groceries sell both in the same section, but the difference is clearly labeled.

                                                        Sweetened condensed is much thicker and of course sweet. Evaporated pours easily, more like cream. It works well in cooked sauces, including mac-n-cheese.

                                                        At the Tesco web site I see the same distinction, 'evaporated' does not have added sugar, 'condensed' does.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          I stand corrected on the "added sugar". I was making the mistake of going by, well, the sweet taste, and the sugar content (around 12%).

                                                          Certainly there's a clear distinction between "evaporated" and "condensed"; the former is "significantly sweet", the latter is "exceptionally syrupy". I'd never heard of anyone confusing the two until I googled the terms, and found lots of websites telling people not to confuse them.

                                                          I wasn't imagining anyone was suggesting making macaroni cheese with condensed milk; it's evaporated milk that I'm (still) boggled at the idea using in savoury recipes. Then again, ATK is a fully paid-up advocate of the "add salt to desserts and sugar to savouries" school of thought...

                                                          1. re: alaimacerc

                                                            My can of evaporated milk lists 3g of sugar (lactose), 2g of protein, 2g of fat.

                                                            Powder whole dry milk: 12g carbos, 8g protein, 8g fat

                                                            lists (for whole milk) 4.8g sugar, 3.2g protein, 3.9 fat

                                                            The proportions are basically the same

                                                            is an Alton Brown recipe using evaporated milk.

                                                            When reconsituted, the main taste difference (to me) is a slight cooked, caramelized quality.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              Yes, perhaps it's in part the hint of carmelisation, making it taste less "milky" and more "sugary". Proportions are very different from cream, though, which might implicitly be a point of comparison. Not that I put cream into my macaroni cheese, either... And compared to thickening milk with a roux, as against "concentrated" milk sugars (and milk everything else).

                                                              Might have to try it, out of sheer morbid curiosity. Though bizarrely, the hardest maccheese ingredient to get around here is... actual macaroni. (Call me fussy, but "penne cheese" or "farfalle and cheese" just ain't the same, somehow.)

                                                      2. In old recipes "a small can of milk" usually meant a 6 oz can of evaporated milk. A "tall can of milk" meant a 12 oz can of evaporated milk.

                                                        1. Spend my first few years in Hong Kong. Evaporated milk was used for milk tea or coffee. Also used it on jello.

                                                          Sweetened condensed milk spread on hot toast with butter. Also used to make ovaltine.

                                                          1. I find that skim condensed milk works well in a quiche. It's thicker than skim milk, not as thick as full condensed, lighter than cream.

                                                            1. From the Texas coast - evap and condensed were both always in the pantry growing up. Evap was referred to as Pet Milk. Mother was a big baker and used them extensively, I'm not sure what in since she did most of her baking late in the evening. It was her way to unwind. I don't recall any other ways they were used.

                                                              I keep both around, although the condensed cans can get rusty before I use them. Evap is mostly used in emergencies for coffee, if I run out of half and half. I prefer to anticipate the shortage and, if I'm not planning a trip to the grocery and don't want to make a special stop just for half and half, I'll add it to the last of the half and half as an extender. Plain evap (or plain milk) doesn't cut it for me in coffee.

                                                              I have also used evap for fried chicken. I read somewhere a well known Southern fried chicken expert uses it instead of buttermilk. I liked it.

                                                              Oh yes, I did figure out on my own that the stuff in the Carnation can is also 'Pet Milk' ;).

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: brucesw

                                                                I remember both evap and condensed is a staple at my grandmother's house. She definitely wasn't using it as an emergency milk back up because they had daily milk delivery. I need to ask my aunt because now I am curious.