In my early years of baking, I don’t know how many times I mixed up evaporated milk and condensed milk. A recipe would call for condensed milk and I would come back from the store with evaporated milk. Ugh, so frustrating. They are so easy to mix up because the cans look so similar. Additionally, they are located directly adjacent to one another, which makes it easy to grab the wrong one. Let’s say you accidentally purchase evaporated milk when you needed to buy condensed milk. Is evaporated milk the same as condensed milk? Let’s find out.
What Is Evaporated Milk?
While evaporated milk is in fact, a milk, it is shelf-stable, unlike traditional fresh milk. Evaporated milk has had approximately 60 percent of the water removed (evaporated) from fresh milk to make it. To create evaporated milk, you would start with traditional fresh milk and evaporate out 60 percent of the water content using a heating process with vacuum evaporation. This obviously reduces the quantity of the liquid (concentrates) making it suitable small canning. Before evaporated milk is canned, it is typically homogenized and sterilized for safe consumption. To make things super confusing, evaporated milk can also be referred to as unsweetened condensed milk.
What is Condensed Milk?
Then we have condensed milk which is also often labeled as sweetened condensed milk. It is heated and then transferred to an evaporator where it sits under vacuum pressure as the water is removed from regular milk. Unlike evaporated milk, sugar is added to condensed milk to make a sugar concentration of approximately 55 percent. As expected, the product holds a very sweet flavor because of the high sugar content. Additionally, its texture is thick like syrup with a light caramel color. Condensed milk can be used for things like cakes, coffee sweetener, pudding, pies, and various other sweet concoctions.
Difference Between Evaporated Milk and Condensed Milk
While it is easy to confuse evaporated milk and condensed milk, they are not one in the same. Both products have had a substantial reduction in water content through the heating of fresh milk. However, condensed milk has had sugar added to it while evaporated milk is void of sugar. You can imagine the taste difference when a recipe calls for the sugariness of condensed milk and you mistakenly use evaporated milk.
Evaporated Milk to Condensed Milk
If you accidentally buy evaporated milk instead of condensed milk, you don’t need to run back to the store. There is a way to convert evaporated milk to condensed milk simply by adding sugar and heating it. Per half cup of evaporated milk add 2/3 cups sugar. Heat the mixture over low heat until the sugar has become one with the milk. Condensed milk cannot be converted to evaporated because the sugar is already in condensed milk. It would be quite difficult to remove the sugar out of the milk.
Evaporated Milk to Regular Milk
Remember that evaporated milk is essentially regular milk with the water evaporated out. To create regular milk you have to reconstitute the evaporate milk by using equal parts evaporated milk to water. Therefore, if you want to make two cups of regular milk, you would mix one cup of evaporated milk with one cup of water.
1. McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004.
Photo Source: Charles Haynes