Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product made from fresh milk that has undergone a process in which about 60% of its water content has been removed. This concentrated liquid has a thicker consistency than regular milk and boasts a slightly caramelized, creamy flavor. Commonly used in cooking and baking, evaporated milk typically requires no refrigeration until opened, making it a convenient pantry staple.
Subbing in for fresh milk in various recipes, evaporated milk adds richness and creaminess to dishes such as casseroles, sauces, soups, pies, and custards. Additionally, it can easily be reconstituted by adding an equal amount of water, returning it to approximately its original consistency. With its versatility and long shelf life, evaporated milk has become a favorite among home cooks and consumers.
When cooking with evaporated milk, people often find themselves confused about what it is and how it's different from regular milk. Its concentrated nature can stump many, unsure whether to use it straight from the can or dilute it first. Additionally, people might ponder about its ideal place in the culinary world, such as how to effectively incorporate it into their recipes or what dishes are best suited to this ingredient's unique properties. People tend to go wrong when they substitute evaporated milk for regular milk in recipes without taking into consideration its rich consistency and mild caramelized flavor, which can affect the final outcome of their dish.
To get the most out of evaporated milk, use it where its richness can shine, such as in sauces, soups, custards, and desserts. Its thick consistency is also ideal for creating creamier beverages. It's easy to reconstitute evaporated milk by adding an equal amount of water, but remember that it'll lose its rich and creamy nature.
One little-known tip about evaporated milk is that it can be whipped like cream. Chilling it well, then whipping it in a cold bowl can make a fluffy topping for desserts. Also, once opened, treat evaporated milk like fresh; refrigerate and use it within several days.
Here are some commonly asked questions and the answers about this ingredient.
Can I use evaporated milk in tea or coffee?
Can I whip evaporated milk?
What is the difference between evaporated milk and regular milk?
Can I substitute evaporated milk for regular milk in any recipe?
Is evaporated milk the same as condensed milk?
Can you drink evaporated milk straight from the can?
What's the benefit of using evaporated milk in my recipes?
Why does evaporated milk have a different taste from regular milk?
Can I use evaporated milk to make yogurt?
Is evaporated milk good for baking?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does evaporated milk expire?
When unopened, a can of evaporated milk can last up to one year past the printed date on the package. Once opened, it should be used within four to five days. It can also be frozen for up to three months. When freezing, pour the milk into a completely airtight container allowing a little space at the top for expansion during the freezing process. When you're ready to use the milk, make sure to thaw it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
How do you tell if evaporated milk is bad?
To tell if your evaporated milk has gone bad, the first thing to check is the smell. If it has an off-odor or smells sour, it’s time to throw it out. Then, check the color. If it has a yellowed or darkened color, it has likely spoiled. Texture can also be an indicator; if the milk appears clumpy or separated, it's likely spoiled. Always practice food safety and when in doubt, throw it out.
Tips for storing evaporated milk to extend shelf life
• Store unopened evaporated milk in a cool, dry area, such as your pantry.
• Once opened, refrigerate the evaporated milk in a tightly sealed container and use within four to five days.
• If you need to store it longer, you can freeze it in an airtight container, but make sure to leave some room at the top for expansion. Before use, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
• Avoid storing evaporated milk in places with high temperatures or direct sunlight as this can affect its quality and expiration date.