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Milk Tips for Goof-Proof Baking

By , SparkPeople Blogger

You can tell it is time for holiday baking when you see the shelves at the local grocery store. With several varieties of canned milk products and creams, it can become confusing. Here are some brief descriptions and alternatives to help make your holiday baking goof-proof.

Evaporated milk is homogenized, vitamin D fortified milk that has had 60% of the water removed. It has not been sweetened and can be found with varying amounts of butterfat ranging from eight percent in whole evaporated milk to .5 percent in the skim variety. Evaporated milk is typically used in cream soups, custards, and dishes where a creamy texture is desired. You can reconstitute evaporated milk by combining with equal amounts of water. If you need a dairy free alternative in a recipe, you can use one cup of water mixed with six tablespoons of soy milk powder to get one cup of evaporated milk alternative.

Condensed milk is pasteurized, homogenized milk that has had sixty percent of the water removed just like with evaporated milk. Sugar is added as a shelf-stabilizer to fight bacteria, which makes it possible for this canned milk to stay unopened on a shelf for up to two years. Many times the label and recipes will state "sweetened" condensed milk to help reduce the risk of confusion with evaporated milk. Condensed milk adds thickness and texture as well as a sweet milk flavor. If you need a dairy free alternative to sweetened condensed milk for a recipe, there are a variety of recipes you can use. There are also sugar-free sweetened condensed milk recipes too.

Cream is created by skimming the fat portion of milk. Grades of cream are based on the percentages of fat. Heavy cream contains around thirty-five percent milk fat, resists curdling and can be whipped. Light cream is around twenty-five percent milk fat, is frequently used as table cream and cannot be whipped. Unfortunately there isn't a good non-dairy cream substitute that can be whipped (though you can buy non-dairy whipped cream), but you can use the evaporated milk substitute if you are not intending to whip in place of heavy cream.

Half-and-half is simply a mixture of one part milk to one part cream. It typically contains around fifteen percent milk fat. Unlike cream, half-and-half cannot be whipped. Some people use this refrigerated milk as creamer for coffee but it is often used for homemade ice cream and in baking as well. If you need a dairy free alternative, try one cup less two tablespoons (seven eighths of a cup) of unsweetened soymilk plus one and one-half tablespoons melted non-dairy margarine.

Do you get confused between the different types of canned milk? What are some of your favorite recipes using canned milk or cream?

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very helpful Report
I grew up on a farm where my father had two milk cows, so I never have like "canned" milk. So, I don't cook with it. Report
Some of my favorite oooey-goooey holiday desserts are made with sweetened condensed milk. Yum! Report
This was helpful..... Report
Who knew?!? Great information. Thank you :) Report
I use alot of fat free canned or condensed milk during the holidays for recipes. Report
That was great information, Thanks Report
These were very helpful definitions and examples of use! Thanks so much! Report
Thank you for your very useful explanations! Report
Very helpful, I've wondered about this... Report
Thanks for that- it will help me immensley when I cook . Now I'll get it right. Report
Thank you so very much for sharing this, you have no idea how confusing all the different milks are, this was very helpful for me and i have printed it out so i will have it in my kitchen when i need to understand what milk it is i need for that receipe. Report
I love making homemade rice pudding using condensed milk in it. Ugh, it's too bad that it takes SOOO long to make as I don't add eggs nor use the oven! Report
i use condensed milk for refrigerator fruitcake and for making lemon meringue pies. Report
I used to use condensed milk as a substitute for cream in recipes. However, I noticed it was no longer working as a substitute; the sauces were no longer thick and creamy. When I read the label of all the condensed milk I could find, all indicated not to add water. I believe the new condensed milk is not as concentrated. I will contact some of the companies to see if this is correct. Has anyone else experienced this? The label from Carnation Evap. Milk says "half the water has been removed." Nestle bought the company in the 80's. Report
Great thanks Report
I pour a can of evap milk over meatloaf and let it soak in before I put it in the oven. Makes it very moist since I bake the meatloaf on a rack to let all the grease drain out. Report
I used evaporated milk in my mased potatoes, and half & half n my coffee and I use condensed milk in my candies I make the sweet kind? Report
Having to live dairy-free, it was always a challenge to know how to convert the different dairy products to soy, so thanks for these great tips! Report
For the longest time I thought evaporated milk was powdered milk. Thanks for clearing that up. I remember eating something at camp that used powdered milk that made me sick so I have knowingly shied away from evaporated milk since then. Perhaps I will give that recipe I have had interest in that uses evaporated milk a try after all. Report
That was very interesting. I didn't know that evaporated milk could be reconstituted. I usually use it in emergencies when I have no milk for my coffee. I wonder if reconstituting would make it taste the same as regular milk? I will have to experiment on that one. Report
Hmm... very helpful!! Report
Yes, truly helpful. I didn't have a clue about these things. Thanks for the info! Report
I found a powdered buttermilk (made by Saco) which I keep in the refrigerator and have found very helpful when baking. We don't drink buttermilk, so this was a perfect solution to always have it on hand if I need it, but to not have a carton of it that will spoil when the recipe calls for only a small amount. Report
There are different types of cream too. There's single cream, double cream, whipping cream and soured cream . . . not to mention clotted cream (yum).

2/3 Report
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