Use Evaporated Milk Instead of Cream

Use Carnation Evaporated Milk 170 grams Small

I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of cream.  I don’t buy cream and so I can’t use cream in recipes.  It’s also not often that I’ve got milk in the house.  Without milk or cream, both of which have a limited lifespan, instead I will use evaporated milk instead of cream or milk in a lot of recipes where cream or milk are listed.   Milk goes off; cream goes off – they both have a limited life-span, so evaporated milk, to me, makes more sense to have in the cupboard “just in case” I suddenly have a desire to make a recipe that wants milk or cream.

Growing up we used to have evaporated milk poured, cold from the tin, onto tinned peaches and other fruit.  It was the same with a jelly and tinned fruit – pouring evaporated milk over that was lovely.  It was a very common way to use evaporated milk in earlier years.  These days you don’t hear of it so much, but it’s VERY tasty.

Evaporated milk is not the same as condensed milk.  Although both of them start off life as milk and both have the water removed, condensed milk is sweeter as it then has sugar added, so the process is:

  • Take regular milk.
  • Heat it up so the excess water evaporates off, until there’s under half of the milk remaining (you remove 60% of the volume).  THIS is evaporated milk.
  • Add sugar to the reduced milk. THIS is condensed milk.

This similarity is why evaporated milk is called unsweetened condensed milk in some countries.  In the UK it’s called Evaporated Milk though.

What I like about evaporated milk is it comes in handy tins that simply sit in the cupboard for months/years until I want to use it in a recipe.  I’ll typically replace cream in recipes such as scones, flans and quiches and even cakes and trifle topping using Bird’s Dream Topping.  Evaporated milk in a crustless quiche really helps make it seem more luxurious in my opinion!  You can even use evaporated milk in a slow cooker quiche.

Evaporated milk is also a handy camping food – simply add more water to the can and you’ve got milk for your coffee!  One can + 1½ cans of water would return the can contents back to the milk quantity it started with.   Of course, if you like your milk in your tea or coffee to be a little creamy, then there’s no need to add any water to it. It’s very flexible like that.  A small tin of evaporated milk can be great to toss into the beach bag if you’re going to be firing up a camping stove to make hot brews on the beach, or even to make milkshakes without carrying litres of fresh milk around with you on the trail!

How Much Evaporated Milk to Use in Recipes

There’s no conversion required, simply use the same quantity, but use evaporated milk instead of the cream or milk.  It gives that “sweet spot” half way between cream and regular milk, that gives you a creaminess and thickness that’s creamier/thicker than milk.

60% Water Removed

Because you start with regular milk and evaporate off 60% of the liquid, what you end up with is a thicker version of milk.  It’s creamy and creamier than milk, but it’s not cream – but if you cool it down in the freezer for half an hour then you can even whip evaporated milk into a cream-like dessert topping, which is why it’s a perfect mix for Dream Topping / Dream Whip in the US.

Can Sizes and Conversions: 

There are several brands on the market, but in the UK Carnation is the leading brand.  These come in two tin sizes:

  • 170 grams, the little tins
  • 340 grams, the big tins

I tend to just keep the small cans in the cupboard – and just this week I grabbed a 3-pack of evaporated milk as I’ll shortly be using it to bake a cheese quiche and possibly some cheese scones!  I keep one in the storecupboard also to simply open and pour over jelly and tinned fruit in the summer.

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