There are many reasons one may gravitate toward evaporated milk but not everyone has a complete understanding of what it is.
Many recipes call specifically for evaporated milk. It is a great way to cut costs through bulk buying, it is safe for storage in an emergency supplies kit and, of course, many people simply like to use it in place of conventional milk.
There are so many ways to use this canned beverage, but the real question is whether you can use it to replace conventional milk in your everyday life?
So can you drink evaporated milk? Yes, you can drink evaporated milk. Few people drink it straight from the can, although it is possible to do this, but many drink it diluted with water.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what evaporated milk is and the many different ways you can use it, including, of course, drinking it. We’ll also answer some of the most common questions about evaporated milk so you can be confident trying this product in all your various food preparation tasks.
What Is Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is, quite simply, conventional cow’s milk that has had approximately 60% of the water content evaporated.
The remaining milk is then packaged for sale, generally in shelf-stable cans or tetra packs, giving it a very long shelf life.
As with traditional milk, you can find multiple varieties of evaporated milk, including organic, lactose-free, and even low-fat. It can be made from both whole milk and skim milk, making the milk fat percentage variable, depending on the brand and production methods.
Evaporated milk is homogenized, meaning it has undergone a special treatment process to keep the milk fat combined so that it doesn’t separate into cream and water.
It is also sterilized to prevent bacterial contamination and growth. The packaging process ensures it will stay safe without refrigeration until the package has been opened, breaking the seal.
What Does Evaporated Milk Taste Like?
While it may take a few tries to get used to the unique flavor of evaporated milk, many people do consider it quite delicious, aside from being highly useful in a variety of recipes.
Evaporated milk tastes very much like conventional milk, however, it is much thicker and less watery. The mouthfeel is creamier and heavier.
Due to the heating process required to encourage evaporation, the sugars in the milk do caramelize a very small amount, adding a bit of color and a very slight hint of sweetness compared to conventional milk.
What is Evaporated Milk Used For?
Evaporated milk is incredibly versatile and can be used in many different recipes and culinary applications. Here are some of the most common ways to use evaporated milk:
- Enriching beverages like smoothies and coffee
- Adding a creamy thickness to sauces and other hot recipes
- Baking with, adding creaminess without too much water content or the high-fat content of cream or heavy cream
- Making ice cream
While it’s easy to say evaporated milk can be used for all of the above applications, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
In the remainder of the article, we’ll share more information about how to use evaporated milk in different ways, as well as any limitations or drawbacks it may have.
How to Use Evaporated Milk
If you have a can of evaporated milk that you’d like to experiment with or are planning on bringing evaporated milk into your pantry, here are some helpful tips for using evaporated milk in a variety of ways.
Can You Drink Evaporated Milk Out Of The Can?
One of the first questions asked about evaporated milk is whether you can drink it straight from the can.
While you certainly can and it is entirely safe to do so, you may find it quite thick and viscous and not as enjoyable as the conventional milk you may be used to drinking.
When you first open a can of evaporated milk, it is a good idea to make a small air hole, cover it with your finger or a cloth, and give the can a good shake.
Though evaporated milk is homogenized to keep the liquid and solid uniformly distributed, shaking the can before using it will better disperse the thicker cream which can settle to the bottom over time.
If you’d like to give it a taste, go for it! Some people enjoy thick beverages.
If it’s not quite hitting the spot straight from the can, however, you may wish to make a cream hot chocolate or chocolate milk with it, or use it in other drinks.
Can You Turn Evaporated Milk Into Regular Milk?
If evaporated milk is too thick to be really enjoyable for you out of the can, can it be converted to regular milk?
Yep! You can add water to make your evaporated milk more like regular milk.
Since evaporated milk is essentially just regular milk with water removed, you can add water to restore it to a thickness and flavor that is more consistent with conventional milk.
Most brands will include instructions for diluting their evaporated milk to be used as a substitute for fresh milk. This can be applied whether you’re cooking with or drinking it.
In most cases, mixing equal parts water and evaporated milk will create a drink that is roughly equivalent to whole milk.
We suggest starting with a little less water, however, to help you gauge the perfect texture. If it’s still a little thick for your liking, you can always water it a bit more.
Many people drink watered-down evaporated milk by itself, as they would conventional milk, but it can also be used as a direct substitute for fresh milk in recipes.
Can You Drink Evaporated Milk With Cereal?
Using evaporated milk with cereal is one of the most common ways to drink – that is, eat – it, especially if you’re new to the canned beverage. The flavor and consistency of evaporated milk are camouflaged slightly by the flavor and texture of your cereal.
If you don’t have your ratio of evaporated milk to water perfectly managed yet, practicing with a bowl of cereal will help you get used to making the milk. It will also help convince your mind that it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to conventional milk!
To use evaporated milk in your cereal, we recommend first mixing it with water in a glass or a pitcher and then pouring it over your cereal.
If you try to mix evaporated milk and water in a bowl of cereal that is already poured, it will be harder to combine the thicker milk with the water evenly.
For cereal, a good ratio to start with is equal parts evaporated milk and water. If you prefer thicker milk or creamier taste, you can add more evaporated milk to taste. If it’s a bit too thick for your preferences, you can temper it with a bit of cold water.
Can You Drink Evaporated Milk In Coffee?
Yes, you can drink evaporated milk in coffee. It’s a very popular alternative for cream.
Many people keep a can of evaporated milk in their fridge, opened with a hole in the surface of the can with a tapper rather than removing the lid entirely. This way the evaporated milk can be poured into a cup of coffee directly, and carefully.
If you’d like to try this technique, here are two very useful tools:
- Can Opener with Tapper for making holes in the top of your can for easy pouring
- Food Can Covers to keep your milk fresh, even after opening the can
Of course, you can also transfer a can of milk into a bottle with an airtight seal to keep it fresh as well.
We love these vintage style 1L glass bottles from The Dairy Shoppe, which have both a lid and a pour spout. You can use them to keep pure evaporated milk fresh for use as cream, or you can combine a can of milk with water and have it ready to drink or use as milk whenever you need it.
Can You Drink Evaporated Milk If You Are Lactose Intolerant?
Evaporated milk is simply conventional cow milk that has had water removed through the process of evaporation. This process does not remove the lactose or other milk proteins from the milk.
Drinking evaporated milk is not a good idea for anyone with a lactose intolerance. Likewise, anyone with sensitivities or allergies to milk and dairy should also avoid evaporated milk.
However, there are some special varieties of evaporated milk that have also had the lactose removed. You may have to search to find a lactose-free can of evaporated milk.
Carnation brand by Nestle offers a tetra pack of lactose-free evaporated milk which is a very handy staple to keep in your pantry if you ever cook, bake, or otherwise prepare food for anyone with lactose intolerance.
Is Evaporated Milk the Same as Condensed Milk?
Evaporated milk is not quite the same thing as condensed milk (a.k.a. sweetened condensed milk).
Evaporated milk is basically concentrated milk with 60% of the water removed. Condensed milk is similarly evaporated, with approximately 60% of the water content removed, but it is also sweetened with added sugar.
Condensed milk contains 21 grams of sugar per ounce on average. In comparison, whole evaporated milk only has about 25 grams of sugar per cup.
As you can probably imagine, this intensely sweet form of concentrated milk is not usually used as a substitute for milk, but rather as a specific sweetening ingredient in recipes like this decadent chocolate cake.
Is Evaporated Milk the Same as Heavy Cream?
Heavy cream is not evaporated milk. It is made from the high-fat portion of fresh milk.
Heavy cream is between 36-40% fat, which works out to more than 85 grams of fat per 1 cup of heavy cream. In comparison, the same volume of whole evaporated milk has closer to 17 grams of fat.
However, evaporated milk and heavy cream have similar consistencies and flavors. Although the fat content gives heavy cream that thick, creamy texture, the reduced water content helps evaporated milk feel thicker, too.
Evaporated milk can be a great a lower-fat, lower-calorie substitute for heavy cream in certain recipes but, because of the lower fat content it doesn’t whip or hold its whipped shape well.
Is Evaporated Milk Vegan?
Standard evaporated milk is made from cow’s milk and therefore is not vegan. It is possible to find plant-based kinds of milk that have been evaporated, however.
Nature’s Charm offers a can of evaporated coconut milk. This is a dairy-free, vegan alternative to evaporated milk for baking or drinking. While it does make a good comparison in terms of texture or consistency, it is considerably sweeter than conventional evaporated milk.
It is not simply coconut milk that has had water evaporated, it is a combination of coconut milk, coconut cream, and thickening agents as well as sugar. It’s delicious and plant-based, but you should try the product before using it in just any recipe, especially savory dishes.
Carnation by Nestle also offers Almond Cooking Milk which is significantly thicker and creamier than conventional almond milk, but not quite as thick as conventional evaporated milk.
If you’re going to dilute this with water to make milk for drinking, we recommend starting at 2/3 almond cooking milk to 1/3 water. Adjust to fit your needs and preferences.
Is Evaporated Milk Sweet?
Evaporated milk is simply conventional whole milk with some of the water removed so, mostly, it tastes like thick milk.
It does undergo a heating process to evaporate the water, so some of the natural sugars in milk can caramelize to a very slight degree, creating a somewhat stronger natural sweetness, but there is no sugar added.
Evaporated milk might be compared in flavor to warmed or steamed milk.
Condensed milk, however, is often confused for evaporated milk, although they are not the same thing, as discussed above. Although it may look the same and be sold in the same area of your grocery store, condensed milk has a lot of added sugar and is quite sweet.
Before buying or opening a can, always double and even triple-check to make sure you have evaporated milk and not condensed milk. The results will be extremely different if you use the wrong one!
Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad?
Evaporated milk is manufactured to be shelf-stable, packaged either in cans or, less frequently, in tetra packs.
Every container will be stamped with a recommended ‘Use By’ or ‘Best Before’ date. This is the length of time the manufacturer is estimating that the evaporated milk will be at its highest quality.
Almost all canned goods are safe and high-quality long after their best before date is passed. If possible, we recommend using it within 6 months of the best before date. If you’re stocking up for an emergency supply, try to rotate your supplies as often as possible.
Once a can of evaporated milk has been opened, it will go bad just like any other dairy product. It must be kept refrigerated at all times and in a container with an airtight seal to protect the flavor and safety.
Use an opened can of evaporated milk within 1 week at the most. If the evaporated milk has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you should consider discarding it as it runs the risk of being contaminated.
Where Is Evaporated Milk in the Grocery Store?
If you’re searching for evaporated milk in your local grocery store, you’ll typically find it on a shelf in the baking aisle.
One of the reasons evaporated milk is popular and convenient is because it can be stored long-term and doesn’t require refrigeration – before opening, that is.
Evaporated milk is useful for emergency preparation kits, camping supplies, bulk supply shopping, in very hot locations, or in areas where power outages are frequent.
You can also purchase evaporated milk online, making it even easier to source the specific options you’re searching for.
Up Next: Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk?