Do you enjoy making low-fat recipes that use milk? If your answer is yes, you will probably have a few cans of evaporated milk tucked away in your pantry.
The problem with using evaporated milk - heck, I'll shorten that to "evap" - is that once you've opened the can, it doesn't keep long.
If you've got leftovers, what can you do? Do you have to bin it, or can you freeze evaporated milk?
I only use evap milk in recipes from time to time. I love adding it to soups, for example. But there is always lots left over. So what to do? I decided to have a go at freezing the remnants.
- Evaporated milk is a slightly darker color than fresh milk.
- Shelf life: 15 months
Where to buy evaporated milk?
Evaporated milk is sold in supermarkets, usually next to powdered milk and coconut cream.
Evaporated milk? - What's all about?
Evap is a form of processed milk that has had 60% of its water content taken away. Consistency wise it is quite thick and has a creamy texture.
One of the great things about it is that it is deficient in fat, having about the only ¼ of the fat content of ordinary cream.
Some brands market even lighter versions, appealing to those who are on calorie-controlled diets.
Food standards require that evaporated milk must contain a minimum of 7.9% milkfat and 25.5% of milk solids.
After the water content has been taken away, the milk is then homogenized, after which it is rapidly chilled and fortified with vitamins and stabilizers.
It is then packaged and goes through a final sterilization process.
The homogenization process's heat gives either its slightly caramelized taste and makes it a little darker than ordinary milk.
Evaporation causes the calories and nutrients to be concentrated. Ergo evaporated milk carries more calories and nutrients than their fresh brethren.
As with ordinary milk, evap is available in whole milk varieties, skimmed, or low-fat. Supplements of vitamin A, plus vitamins C and D, are added to all versions of low-fat and skimmed evap.
- You have to be careful with evaporated milk as it curdles easily and forms "skin" when heated too aggressively. Whatever dish you are adding it to, take it off the heat for one or two minutes before adding the milk.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container (like glass bottles) in your fridge for as long as one week. Treat it the same as you would ordinary fresh milk.
- You can freeze evaporated milk in cube form and then put it into Ziploc bags in your freezer for storage.
Can you freeze evaporated milk?
The good news is that if you have bought a few cans or packs of evap milk going cheap because they were nearing their expiry date, you can freeze them.
But as you might expect, it is not that easy to do because when you come to defrost it, the milk solids can separate from the liquids.
However, suppose separation does occur (it sounds like we're talking about a NASA moonshot here).
In that case, the milk will still be okay to use in cooking where the separation will not be visually apparent— especially if you reserve for use in creamy soups ––– the type you purée in a blender - casseroles and stews.
Once separation has occurred, you can stir until the cows come home, but you will not get it back to its former state. It will help a smidgin, but not more.
Freezing not recommended
If you read the instructions on most manufacturers' cans or packs of evaporated milk, they tend to discourage you from trying to freeze it.
Should you visit the Carnation website and check out their "frequently asked questions" page, it says that freezing is not recommended because it brings about a change to its color, taste, and texture.
Do not freeze evap milk in the can itself. Unopened cans need not be frozen as they have a long shelf life anyway.
The process of freezing evaporated milk.
Freezing evaporated milk is a simple process that will only take you a few minutes at the most. The important thing is to know which recipes you will be using your frozen evap in.
That way, you will have a better idea of how much you should be pouring into each container.
Step by step instructions:
Transfer the evaporated milk into freezer-safe containers. Ideally, each container ought to hold the exact amount you will need to use in the recipe you're planning.
However, don't fill the container to the brim. Liquids expand when they freeze, so leave a little headroom at the top.
Once you've sealed the containers, it's a good idea to label them, particularly if the amount in each is not equal.
By labeling each container with the dish it is intended to be used with, it will be much easier to locate the right one when the time comes.
That's it - find some room in the freezer and job done. You can keep frozen evaporated milk for up to 2 months.
Defrosting frozen evaporated milk
When the time comes to thaw your frozen evaporated milk, you have two options.
Transfer it from your freezer into your fridge, and leave it overnight to defrost. Admittedly, you need to plan ahead to take this option.
In most cases, you can skip the defrosting process altogether and transfer the frozen evap milk straight into the cooking pot and allow nature (or physics) to take its course.
A word to the wise
- Although it's not essential, it's best to stir the thawed evap milk completely with a hand blender.
- If you're adding it frozen, then stir the whole dish as the evap defrosts distribute it evenly.
Some prefer to let frozen foods sit out on the work surface to defrost.
You just need to be aware that food should not be allowed to sit outside the fridge at room temperature for more than two hours.
Signs evaporated milk has gone off
The signs that evap is going, or has gone bad, including a color change, lumps developing, and a sour, off-like smell or taste. If any of these are apparent, throw them away.
The same goes for your leftover evap that has been kept for over a week. Although it might look all right, you ought to bin it.
To optimize the amount of time you can keep a can of evaporated milk once it's been opened, you should cover it tightly with either plastic food wrap or aluminum foil.
If you transfer it into a container with a tight-fitting lid, it will help to stop the "skin" from being formed on the surface.
How long can you keep opened evaporated milk in the fridge?
The maximum amount of time you can store a properly wrapped opened can of evap milk in your refrigerator is between four and six days.
What can you do with evaporated milk?
One of the great things about evaporated milk is that it is very versatile, and there are lots of different ways to use it.
6 creative ways to use leftover evaporated milk
1 Using it in various recipes
Evap can be used in many dessert recipes, including fudge, pumpkin pie, and Tres Leches (with or without strawberries).
You can also use it to make creamy salad dressings and pasta sauces. You can even mix it with eggs to concoct a great dip to use when breading fish, meat, poultry, or vegetables.
2 As a substitute
Evap can come in handy for being used as a substitute instead of other dairy products, so it's always useful to keep one or two cans in your pantry.
You can use it as a substitute for cream in dishes like mashed potatoes, creamy soups, and mac and cheese.
It's nowhere near as expensive as heavy cream or half and half and is considerably lower in fat.
For example, heavy cream contains 36% fat instead of evaporated milk, which has only 6.5%. One of the things I wouldn't recommend you try subbing it for is whipped cream.
Another good thing is that evaporated milk tolerates high heat, unlike other dairy products, which curdle at high temperatures.
I have known some people to use evap instead of water in some bread recipes, including things like hot cross buns. Evap not only adds great flavor but it raises the nutritional content too.
3 Add milk into hot drinks
In countries in Asia and in Mexico, the locals use evaporated milk in coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. It adds a creamy texture without lots of extra fat or calories.
It can also be used as a creamer in coffee or tea and can be heated along with some regular milk to make a cup of cocoa.
4 Reconstitute evaporated milk
When all is said and done, evap is only ordinary milk with 60% of its water taken out.
- By adding water back into it and doubling its volume, you can use it like regular milk.
However, the flavor will be slightly different - not as clean and fresh as normal milk, so it's best to use it as an ingredient rather than drinking it.
5 Whipped evaporated milk
Although, as I said earlier, I wouldn't recommend using evaporated milk as a substitute for whipping cream, it can be done, although because it has so much less fat in it, it doesn't whip easily. But there are ways.
Put the canned evaporated milk in the freezer for 30 minutes (put a timer as we don't want to stay in longer than that). Also, put your mixing bowl + whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge while waiting for the milk to get cold. This is very important.
Once it's ready, prep 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, ¼ cup confectioner sugar, and the 12 oz flashed freeze evaporated milk. Pour the evap milk into the mixing bowl and whip it for about 30 seconds to make it frothy.
After the milk turned frothy, you can go ahead and add in the confectioner sugar and the vanilla extract. Adding powder sugar will sweeten the milk and considering there's also a bit of cornstarch in it, it will stabilize the whipped cream. Now whip the evap until it becomes stiff and creamy for about 2 minutes.
You need to use it immediately because it doesn't hold its shape for long. It's a perfect topping for fruit salad, pies, desserts, custards, or anything you like.
6 Using evaporated milk in dressings or sauces
You can use evaporated milk to concoct a dressing without eggs for coleslaw, pasta salad, or potato salad.
When you add evaporated milk, cold or at room temperature, to an acid such as lemon or vinegar, it will thicken.
The only thing you mustn't do is add evap milk into an acidic dish that will be heated as this is the one occasion when it will curdle.
Alternatively, you can use evap to make a basic white sauce to thicken sauces and soups.
Storing evaporated milk and condensed milk
Some recipes call for "canned milk," and this usually means sweetened canned milk. It's something that is commonly used as a baking ingredient.
It is essentially canned cow's milk that has had all of its water removed, making it that much thicker than evap, plus some added sugar. Many people use it as a coffee sweetener.
Essentially, evap and sweetened condensed milk go through the same process.
Sweetened condensed milk has a 40% to 45% sugar content, a minimum of 8% fat, and around 28% of milk solids.
After being pasteurized during the evaporation process when sugar is added, no further sterilization is necessary as the sugar halts the growth of any microorganisms.
According to government regs, condensed milk is given a vitamin A supplement. While no other nutrients are specified by law, some manufacturers may add them.
- Sweetened condensed milk, or just condensed milk, has a high-calorie content.
- Unsweetened condensed milk is actually evaporated milk.
As with evap, when condensed milk is added to acid, it naturally thickens. No heat is required.
Condensed milk is available in whole, fat-free, and low-fat varieties and can even be chocolate flavored. It is ideal for use in cookie bars, pie feelings, puddings, and cold deserts.
- Whereas evaporated milk is a little darker than whole milk but pours in a similar way, condensed milk is darker still, more yellowy, and much thicker, somewhat like molasses.
Buying and Storing
You'll find several brands of evaporated or condensed milk on the shelves of your supermarket, so the choice of which one you use is down to you.
Here are some tips to observe when out shopping.
- If you see a swollen can or container, give it a miss as the seals have been compromised. They have become bloated because of gases being released from the milk spoiling inside the can or container.
- If you come across any cans that are dented, these too should be avoided. While all might seem well on the outside, it is a fact that cans that have been dented can create botulism poisoning. The reason is that the dents near the seams can allow bacteria to enter. If you consume the contents, you can become ill.
These tips don't only apply to evaporated or condensed milk; they should be observed concerning any canned foods or beverages.
- Keep in cool dark places well away from heat sources. As the solids inside the can eventually settle at the bottom, it's important to agitate the cans and their contents and turn them over regularly every two or three weeks.
Although you can keep canned milk longer than its uncondensed cousin, you still ought to use it for six months.
Evaporated vs condensed milk
In the United States at the turn of the 20th century, evap and condensed milk were used in preference to fresh milk as they had a much more stable shelf life and therefore posed less of a risk to public health.
Although many people confuse the two products, they are substantially different, and choosing the wrong one can ruin any recipe.
How they are similar
- They both come in cans and can be found on the baking aisle in most supermarkets.
- Both are stable and do not require to be refrigerated before opening.
- Both are used in cooking, but you need to take care to ensure you buy the right variant according to the recipe.
How they differ
- Evap contains no sugar. It is just milk that has been heated to evaporate its water content and is similar in consistency to cream.
- Condensed milk contains 40% to 45% sugar and is a much thicker, stickier substance.
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Freezing Evaporated Milk (How to)
- evaporated milk (leftover)
- Transfer the evaporated milk into freezer-safe containers. Ideally, each container ought to hold the exact amount you will need to use in the recipe you’re planning.However, don’t fill the container to the brim. Liquids expand when they freeze, so leave a little headroom at the top.
- Once you’ve sealed the containers, it’s a good idea to label them, particularly if the amount in each is not equal.By labeling each container with the dish it is intended to be used with, it will be much easier to locate the right one when the time comes.
- That’s it – find some room in the freezer and job done. You can keep frozen evaporated milk for up to 2 months.