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Evaporated Milk - how do you use it?

cstout Aug 26, 2013 08:04 AM

I like to add a little in mashed potatoes & also use it to make cream gravy, or add some to macaroni salad, but other than that, I am stumped as how to use the remainder of the can. The small cans of EM (evaporated milk) are no longer available in my grocery store. By the way, I see some generic canned milk - have you used those before?

My intentions are good - the remainder goes in a lidded jar & I make a mental note to use it up during the week. Never happens. Just another waste I would like to avoid.

Does EM freeze well? Perhaps you all could help me use this stuff up so I am not having to throw a half can out. Thanks.

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  1. iluvcookies RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 08:19 AM

    I generally use up leftover evaporated or condensed milk in my morning coffee. You can also thin out the evaproated milk with a litte water and use it just like regular milk--it's not bad chilled and poured over cereal.

    2 Replies
    1. re: iluvcookies
      divadmas RE: iluvcookies Sep 14, 2013 12:43 AM

      oddly i like in coffee but hate the cooked taste when used on cereal.

      1. re: iluvcookies
        pavlova RE: iluvcookies Sep 15, 2013 06:39 PM

        I always use it in my tea. in fact, I don't like to have tea anywhere that I can't have evaporated milk in it. I love that it's creamier than milk but not as rich as cream.

      2. m
        MrsJonesey RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 08:38 AM

        I don't care for it in any non-cooked preparation with the exception being mashed potatoes, where I mix it in at the end. I guess the residual heat takes that edge off of it. I keep it on hand though and use it in anything calling for milk that will be cooked.

        I believe you can use it in any recipe calling for heavy cream, except for whipping, of course. The dish won't be as rich though.

        I've never tried freezing it. If no one answers to that, try freezing it and see how it works. If it doesn't do well, then that is no worse than letting it go bad. BTW, I find it has a long shelf life, a good couple of weeks after opening.

        1. eclecticsynergy RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 09:14 AM

          Makes a decent base mac & cheese or Alfredo.

          23 Replies
          1. re: eclecticsynergy
            Emme RE: eclecticsynergy Aug 27, 2013 10:21 PM

            i use it sometimes when i make a baked mac... literally just stir it together with cheeses, salt, pepper, a dash of mustard powder and/or onion powder. sometimes an egg. toss with cooked pasta and bake. sprinkle with a little more cheese in the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.

            1. re: Emme
              Will Owen RE: Emme Sep 14, 2013 03:57 PM

              I make my baked mac&cheese by cooking some chopped onion and poblano pepper (that's optional) in some oil, then adding a 12 oz can of evaporated milk and cooking it down, stirring and scraping until it's about 9-10 oz, then adding three cups of shredded cheese. S&P too, of course, and maybe a bit of dry mustard. Take it off the heat and stir until it's all melted, then stir in 8 oz of macaroni, cooked and drained. Turn that out into a greased casserole dish, top with grated parm or pecorino, and bake until browned and bubbly. I've been using Trader Joe's High-Fiber Penne for this, and it's about as low-carb as the dish can get. Oh, and I also usually cut tops off three Roma tomatoes, get rid of the seeds and liquid, and chop them up into the dish while it's being stirred together.

              1. re: Will Owen
                MrsJonesey RE: Will Owen Sep 15, 2013 03:55 PM

                That sounds really good. I always make a bechamel and love the taste but wish it was more saucey. I am wondering if the abscence of flour would keep the sauce thinner.

                ETA: I have been craving some good mac and cheese. Recently tried CI's stovetop method. It was horrid.

                1. re: MrsJonesey
                  MrsJonesey RE: MrsJonesey Nov 8, 2013 07:24 PM

                  I am back to eat my words. I have since made my usual baked mac and cheese as well as some penne to go with a Swiss steak type dish. I have been using Barilla Plus for a while now and really liked it. Now, it is not tasting good to me. It ruined my baked mac and cheese and I recognized the off flavor that was so prevalent in the stovetop version. Either BP's quality has gone downhill or my tastebuds changed.

                  1. re: MrsJonesey
                    thymetobake RE: MrsJonesey Nov 9, 2013 04:50 AM

                    Tastebuds do change over time. I've read somewhere that we are all born with the maximum amount of tastebuds we will ever have. They die or fall off as we age. That explains a lot....

                    1. re: thymetobake
                      MrsJonesey RE: thymetobake Nov 9, 2013 06:19 AM

                      Ahhh, one of the many joys of aging......

                2. re: Will Owen
                  fldhkybnva RE: Will Owen Nov 9, 2013 01:18 PM

                  I am looking for a holiday macaroni and cheese recipe and planned to do a baked style like my grandmother. She usually uses half and half but I was thinking of using evaporated instead. Does it have a strong effect on the final flavor?

                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                    MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 9, 2013 05:21 PM

                    I don't think so, but I have always used it in mac and cheese. You know to use equal amounts of water, right?

                    1. re: MrsJonesey
                      fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 9, 2013 05:32 PM

                      Nope, didn't know that thanks for the tip. Should the water and evaporated milk total to the original amount of milk in the recipe?

                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                        MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 9, 2013 06:22 PM

                        You're welcome. Yes.

                        1. re: MrsJonesey
                          fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 9, 2013 06:32 PM

                          Perfect, thanks I think it'll be nice to try it, hopefully it'll work out for our Thanksgiving macaroni and cheese. So just to confirm, if the recipe calls for 2 pints of half and half I'd just need equivalent 1 pint volume of evaporated milk?

                          1. re: fldhkybnva
                            MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 10, 2013 06:29 AM

                            Yes, to sub for 2 pints half and half, use 1 pint evaporated milk and 1 pint water.

                            1. re: MrsJonesey
                              divadmas RE: MrsJonesey Nov 10, 2013 12:33 PM

                              1 part em to 1 part water is equal to milk.

                              1. re: divadmas
                                fldhkybnva RE: divadmas Nov 10, 2013 12:41 PM

                                For some reason I thought evaporated milk was used in recipes like mac and cheese for its thickness, doesn't adding water sort of eliminate that effect?

                                1. re: fldhkybnva
                                  divadmas RE: fldhkybnva Nov 10, 2013 12:50 PM

                                  makes sense to me. you can even get low fat or fat free em, i just got some but haven't used yet. sub for cream, nice and thick.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                                    MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 10, 2013 01:34 PM

                                    Thickness, no. I have trouble keeping my mac and cheese saucy enough to suit me, so no, it doesn't thin it out. If you mean richness, as with heavy cream, hmm, I suppose if you wanted your mac and cheese that rich, you could use it undiluted. I will be interested to see what others say about this.

                                    1. re: MrsJonesey
                                      fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 10, 2013 01:57 PM

                                      I guess my question would be then why not just use regular milk. I'm just clueless about evaporated so learning :) Is it just more convenient?

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                        MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 10, 2013 04:30 PM

                                        Speaking for myself, yes, it is all about convenience. We drink skim milk, but I rarely use it in cooking. I keep cans of evaporated milk on hand. Don't have to worry about it going bad until it's opened and even then, it keeps upwards of a month.

                                        Also, I could be entirely wrong about this, but it seems like once upon a time it was more economical, ounce per ounce, than fresh milk. It certainly isn't now.

                                        1. re: MrsJonesey
                                          fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 10, 2013 04:45 PM

                                          I see, makes sense especially for this house as well. I have never actually had a glass of milk so I can't remember the last time I had any in the house.

                                      2. re: MrsJonesey
                                        fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 11, 2013 07:05 AM

                                        Well now I figured out why I'm confused, I idiotically asked the wrong question. Our family macaroni and cheese recipe uses half and half and I was wondering if evaporated would be a 1:1 substitute for that as in 1 pint half and half to equal volume evaporated without added water? Sleep deprivation nabs me again.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva
                                          MrsJonesey RE: fldhkybnva Nov 11, 2013 07:31 AM

                                          Okay, I wasn't sure so I looked for the answer. According to this, yes sub 1:1 undiluted evaported milk for half and half. http://www.foodsubs.com/Dairyoth.html

                                          Scroll down to the info on half and half.

                                          1. re: MrsJonesey
                                            fldhkybnva RE: MrsJonesey Nov 11, 2013 10:24 AM

                                            Yea, I Googled it this morning and that's how I realized my posting error. Thanks for the link.

                            2. re: fldhkybnva
                              greygarious RE: fldhkybnva May 15, 2014 09:43 PM

                              No! If you want the maximum creaminess in the cheese sauce, use the evaporated milk straight. The only times I've had a cheese sauce break are when I've been a little short on EM and added a bit of water. Even then, I came nowhere near a 1:1 dilution.

                  2. j
                    janniecooks RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 09:33 AM

                    If you are just looking to use up a small amount or a partial can, it's quite tasty in coffee in place of milk or half and half.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: janniecooks
                      cstout RE: janniecooks Aug 26, 2013 10:15 AM

                      I was in panic mode this morning when I realized I will not have any cream for my coffee in the morning. Well, guess what? I will try some EM, just trying to get over using that instead of my delicious cream.

                      1. re: cstout
                        janniecooks RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 11:03 AM

                        I don't use it regularly, but got in the habit of keeping a few small cans in the pantry for those emergencies! I first had EM in coffee in Mexico, where nearly every place we had coffee served evaporated milk as the "crema". Oh, and be sure to use it straight, don't dilute it.

                    2. f
                      foxspirit RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 09:40 AM

                      I sub it for cream in sauces and soups. Its not quite as rich but still delicious and saves me a few calories.

                      1. c
                        cstout RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 10:21 AM

                        My grandmother used to buy cans of EM but I don't remember why...she had a milk cow. Geez, everyone back in those days always had cans of it. Seems like there was a lot of dessert dishes & ice cream made with it.

                        Thanks to you all, I feel confident that the other half of EM won't go to waste in the future.

                        1. greygarious RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 10:30 AM

                          Yes, you can freeze it. Evaporated milk diluted 1:1 with water = regular milk (cooked). It will never taste right as a sub for milk from the carton or jug, but it works the same in cooking and baking.

                          Use EM in sauces for mac&cheese and potatoes au gratin. It keeps the cheese from breaking and being grainy. (So does adding processed cheese food like Velveeta to your real cheeses).

                          I don't drink milk so unless I want cereal, I don't buy it. I always have a few cans of EM on hand. Also, it's pretty economical. It's 99cents a can here. When you consider the dilution factor, it's cheaper than milk by the quart, and weighs less to carry home.

                          1. s
                            sueatmo RE: cstout Aug 26, 2013 05:20 PM

                            I used to use skim evaporated milk in preference to the regular, which I think has a cooked fat flavor that I don't like. I used it in my coffee for years.

                            You can make a creamy salad dressing using evaporated milk. I've used it in a quiche and in pumpkin pie. I think I've even made chowder with it.

                            1. bobabear RE: cstout Aug 27, 2013 12:54 PM

                              Last night I made a coconut tapioca pudding with half a can. I'll use the other half can for a custard pie.

                              1. MunchkinRedux RE: cstout Aug 27, 2013 08:13 PM

                                Cooks Illustrated has a great recipe for stove-top Mac & Cheese which calls for EM. I usually keep some on hand just for that purpose.

                                1. h
                                  hankstramm RE: cstout Aug 27, 2013 09:32 PM

                                  Yes to most of the responses. I use it every day for my coffee--picked that habit up in Mexico where it's the common creamer.

                                  Mac and cheese, alfredos and a decent stand-in for cream in many dishes. Not perfect sub, but it works if you're just adding a little to finish a sauce.

                                  1. weezieduzzit RE: cstout Aug 27, 2013 09:44 PM

                                    If you're interested in something sweet, I made Martha Stewart's recipe for Penuche Fudge at Christmas and people flipped for it. It'll be my go-to sweet this year.


                                    1. c
                                      cstout RE: cstout Aug 28, 2013 05:41 AM

                                      Check out this mousse pie -


                                      Thanks so much for the ideas posted here. Your recipes are great too.

                                      Now instead of wondering what to do with a leftover can, I am thinking I need to stock up on this stuff!!!!

                                      Greygarious has enlightened us about freezing it so this is beginning to sound like we all need to rethink our recipes & start using EM instead.

                                      Well, from the looks of your posts, I guess it's just me who needs to do the rethinking. Sorry.

                                      1. Ruthie789 RE: cstout Sep 14, 2013 02:32 AM

                                        A vegetable cream soup using EM and some chicken broth are usually good. I make one with brussel sprouts!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Ruthie789
                                          rainey RE: Ruthie789 Sep 14, 2013 10:35 AM

                                          I have never liked the flavor of evaporated milk. My mom had been a Depression Era kid from a large family and I think they probably had more canned milk than fresh. She tried to continue that when we were young but no one could stand the sticky overcooked flavor.

                                          However much as I may dislike it, it's THE dairy ingredient in one creamy chowder that's a family favorite. If it's something my family LOVES, how can I tamper with the recipe? But, other than that, I think I'd pass on working with it when fresh dairy is available.

                                          1. re: rainey
                                            Ruthie789 RE: rainey Sep 14, 2013 10:38 AM

                                            EM does give a nice creamy texture to recipes, it is lower in fat than cream. I responded as such since CS is looking for a way to use up her leftover milk. I do agree ingredients in the purest form are always the best but many old favorite recipes come from that can of EM.

                                            1. re: Ruthie789
                                              rainey RE: Ruthie789 Sep 14, 2013 02:00 PM

                                              I guess it's a matter of the right application for the right product. ; >

                                        2. playfulotter RE: cstout Sep 14, 2013 09:49 AM

                                          Here is a favorite chicken and rice recipe I have made several times that uses a full can of evaporated milk.


                                          1. e
                                            escondido123 RE: cstout Sep 14, 2013 10:19 AM

                                            When I was a teenager we used to brown up a bag of chopped potatoes. Once they were soft, we would pour a can of evap milk over it and then shredded longhorn cheese, put the lid on and let it melt -- kind of amateur au gratin potatoes. That would be dinner if mom and dad were out for the evening.

                                            1. m
                                              Marianne13 RE: cstout Sep 16, 2013 02:21 PM

                                              I use it for easy stovetop mac and cheese (alton brown) and for this delicous shortcut butter chicken: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-ind... cut the butter to 1/4 cup and use a can of evaporated milk to replace the cream. Try it with a full can the first time and then adjust for single servings to use up your unfinished can of EM with some tomato sauce/passata and veggies or protein.

                                              1. s
                                                saltylady RE: cstout Nov 9, 2013 02:45 AM

                                                Many Pumpkin pie recipes have it in it . When i was "buyer" for our office coffee club, we used it for coffee as we had no refrigerator and would leave a can out all day . However , all the cans would disappear right around Thanksgiving , and we figured out people were using them for Pumpkin Pie ! Very odd to steal from co workers for such a cheap item, but it happened at least 3 years in a row!!

                                                I remember fondly as a young child having coffee with evaporated milk with my dad before he left for work each morning as special just us time before my Mom and sister woke up ..

                                                1. thymetobake RE: cstout Nov 9, 2013 04:56 AM

                                                  My grandma was a big fan of the stuff. She always used it cut with water in place of milk. I think it was due to the era and location that she grew up. She was born in 1903.

                                                  As a child she would often feed me peaches or strawberries in "cream". The cream was evap milk and sugar. I loved it back then. Haven't tried it in many decades.

                                                  1. The Professor RE: cstout Nov 9, 2013 02:25 PM

                                                    I make rice pudding and bread pudding with it.And sometimes, I'll dump a tablespoonful or two into my scrambled eggs if I don't have regular cream or sour cream handy.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: The Professor
                                                      Ruthie789 RE: The Professor May 15, 2014 03:23 PM

                                                      I ran out of milk the other day never thought to open a can of evaporated milk.

                                                      1. re: Ruthie789
                                                        DebinIndiana RE: Ruthie789 May 17, 2014 12:29 PM

                                                        My main use for evaporated milk is to keep it handy in the cupboard for times there is no milk in the house (esp. at my parents' house -- I'm only there on the weekends, and they are often out when I show up).

                                                    2. s
                                                      sueatmo RE: cstout Nov 9, 2013 02:31 PM

                                                      Evaporated milk is a standard ingredient in pumpkin pie, as made in the middle of the last century. I still make it that way, from a recipe in an Old Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.

                                                      As I mentioned in a previous post I prefer the skimmed version, because it eliminates that cooked fat taste which I don't care for.

                                                      1. b
                                                        becks1 RE: cstout Nov 9, 2013 03:08 PM

                                                        Here's a list


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: becks1
                                                          divadmas RE: becks1 Nov 9, 2013 05:40 PM

                                                          make sure to shake can before opening as it can separate.

                                                        2. eperdu RE: cstout Nov 11, 2013 01:51 PM

                                                          I grew up drinking EM as hot chocolate. My Mom always called it "oakie" hot chocolate. It's basically a can of EM, a can of water (or less if you want it richer tasting) and then sugar, cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, and vanilla. I normally use the hot cocoa recipe on the Hershey box.

                                                          I only use EM for that. :)

                                                          1. c
                                                            Chi_Guy RE: cstout Nov 11, 2013 02:44 PM

                                                            I've used condensed milk occasionally in desserts and to make Vietnamese iced coffee.

                                                            Evaporated milk though I have little use for around the kitchen. I used to make nacho cheese sauce with it (http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...) but have not needed it ever since I discovered sodium citrate.

                                                            1. eatzalot RE: cstout Nov 11, 2013 02:58 PM

                                                              Evaporated milk is used heavily in commercial cooking and one of its properties is that it's more resistant to "breaking" or curdling in sauces than fresh milk or cream.

                                                              I long ago got into the habit of keeping it on hand for cooking (from rural relatives, who had limited access to fresh milk). An opened can keeps well in the refrigerator for a few days (I cover the top with plastic film secured by a rubber band).

                                                              Almost never dilute it. Straight from the can it is a good, lighter substitute for light cream or (US-only term) "half and half." In Béchamel sauces, cheese sauces, pancake batters, general cooking. Just use it straight in recipes calling for either milk or any kind of light cream.

                                                              Once or twice, I diluted some with (very cold) water to use on breakfast cereal and it was surprisingly close to fresh milk. Closer, anyway, than any other shelf-stable substitute I've tried, such as full-fat powdered milks.

                                                              Cheese sauces for pastas don't really need any thickening agent. Melt a little butter, add and heat EM, then add whatever cheese(s) you want, cook very gently to dissolve, and toss cooked pasta in the result. Italians call these pasta dishes "alla panna," which Americans a few decades back started confusing with all' Alfredo. Alfredo de Lellio's actual dish was fettucine "al burro," made with cheese and a special rich butter -- no cream, no "sauce" - which is how it appeared in standard US cookbooks for most of the 20th century.

                                                              1. dave_c RE: cstout Nov 11, 2013 03:53 PM

                                                                I have to ask. How do you use evaporated milk in mac salad? A creamy dressing as you would with buttermilk?

                                                                1. j
                                                                  JasFoodie RE: cstout Nov 16, 2013 11:42 PM

                                                                  My mom uses it quite liberally - she uses it to mix her tanddoori chicken spices in and marinates the chicken in it - the chicken ends up wonderfully tender.

                                                                  Also, she uses it in a thai crab curry dish - I don't know the exact recipe, but from what I recall, saute some curry powder and tom yum paste together, add crab (or shrimp) and cook till nearly done, toss in a small handful of celary leaves and some small dice tomatoes. Add the evaporated milk and cook just long enough to heat it through (don't want to overcook the seafood) and serve with rice. The evaporated milk + curry powder+ tom yum paste make for an amazing curry to eat with the rice.

                                                                  I may have to try making this sometime - it's one of my favorite dishes she makes and I've never even tried to make it. All I use evaporated milk for is in my iced coffee.

                                                                  1. k
                                                                    khloesmom17 RE: cstout Apr 22, 2014 01:07 PM

                                                                    I make the best mac and cheese ever and I always used evaporated milk. I mixed it with 2 eggs and sit it aside. While my macaroni is boiling, in a large bowl, I cut up one block of sharp cheddar cheese, then add in a bag of mild shredded cheese, then place one full stick of butter in with the cheeses (cut into squares). Once the macaroni is aldente, I drain them and pour them into the bowl with the cheese and butter. I stir all contents until the butter and cheese are melted, add, salt and pepper, then transfer contents into baking dish. After leveling contents into baking dish, i pour the egg and evaporated milk in. The mixture should cover the macaroni. Then I cut up another block of sharp cheddar or use another bag of shredded cheddar to place on top of the macaroni. Sprinkle with a little more black pepper then place in the oven on 350° for 45mins or til liquid evaporates and cheese on top is browned.

                                                                    1. e
                                                                      eboeke RE: cstout May 15, 2014 09:39 AM

                                                                      I've been reading these posts and smiling. My dad used to sing this regarding evap. milk. "Carnation milk the best in the land. Here I sit with a can in my hand. No teats to pull, no hay to pitch. Just poke a hole in the sonofabitch." ;-)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: eboeke
                                                                        cstout RE: eboeke May 15, 2014 05:58 PM

                                                                        Heh, heh....sounds like something my dear 'ol dad would come up with. Old codgers & WWII vets had their own way of expressing things.

                                                                        I can still see the cast iron skillet bubbling with bacon grease & flour & hearing the pop of a can of Pet milk. Pretty soon there was enough gravy to feed even the cats & dogs. Not a pretty sight once it cooled off & globbed up, but mighty tasty in the mean time.

                                                                        Oh yes, some even got tossed out to the chickens - take a spoon of it & target an innocent chicken. Plop - right on the back. Everything ate gravy back in those days.

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