What's the difference between evaporated milk and regular milk? Exactly what the name suggests: Evaporated milk has had some liquid removed. You can substitute evaporated milk for milk in many uses, but not all.
Evaporated Milk vs. Milk
Before you open a can or box of evaporated milk and start cooking, make sure you have the right thing. Evaporated milk is often placed right next to condensed milk on the store shelves, but the two will do different things to your recipes.
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As the International Dairy Foods Association explains, about 60 percent of the water has been removed from both evaporated and condensed milk. But condensed milk also contains added sweeteners. Evaporated milk can, with a few caveats, be reconstituted and used more or less like regular milk. But because of that extra sweetness, condensed milk exists in a category of its own.
You may also encounter dry milk — a non-sweetened version from which all the water has been removed. Like evaporated milk, dry milk can be reconstituted by adding water and, with a few caveats, used like regular liquid milk.
Like liquid milk, both evaporated and dry milk are available in skim, nonfat and whole or full-fat varieties — another good reason to pay close attention to the product labels as you shop.
Substituting Evaporated Milk for Milk
If you want to use evaporated milk in place of regular milk, follow the directions on the container label — usually, you should blend 1 part evaporated milk to 1 part water. Or, as the Kansas Department of Health and Environment explains, mixing one 12-ounce can of evaporated milk with 1 1/2 cups of water will get you 3 cups of milk.
They also note that unopened cans of evaporated milk can be stored for up to six months. However, as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (Missouri DHSS) explains, once you open a can of evaporated milk, any unused portions should be stored in a tightly covered container and used within three to five days.
Most people think that reconstituted evaporated milk has a slightly different taste than regular milk — so one good way of stretching your dairy stores is to reserve your real milk for drinking or use in cereal, where its taste is the most obvious. Meanwhile, you can use evaporated milk in a wide variety of recipes in which any slight differences in taste are less obvious.
Tips for Evaporated Milk Recipes
The Missouri DHSS offers some great ideas for recipes in which you can use evaporated milk — from baked goods to macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, soups, puddings and creamer for coffee or tea.
Want a creamier end product? Instead of reconstituting your evaporated milk with water, just use the same amount of evaporated milk as you'd use fresh milk. Another good tip from the Missouri DHSS: Opt for skim/low-fat or fat-free versions of evaporated milk to keep your food's fat content down. And no matter what version you opt for, shake the evaporated milk well before opening it.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment provides another great suggestion for covering up the slight difference in taste between reconstituted evaporated milk and regular milk: Try adding a few drops of vanilla to each quart of reconstituted milk. Note that 1 quart equals 4 cups.