Have you ever found yourself in the middle of the baking aisle trying to remember which type of canned milk that family recipe called for?
Evaporated milk & sweetened condensed milk are both types of thick, concentrated milk in which about 60% of the water has been removed. The difference between the two may be small, but it will certainly have a big impact on the taste of your finished dish.
Let’s take a closer look at each:
What is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
Sweetened condensed milk is a concentrated milk product made by heating cow’s milk at a reduced pressure. The milk is heated until the water content has reduced by half, then sugar is added to bring the sugar content up to 55%. The resulting product is often canned, making it shelf-stable. Condensed milk can be used in a variety of dessert recipes such as meringue, fudge & custard.
What is Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is similarly made by heating cow’s milk at reduced pressure until the water content has decreased by about half. The milk is sterilized after it is reduced & homogenized. As a shelf-stable alternative to fresh milk, evaporated milk was designed to be diluted with an equal amount of water. Evaporated milk is used in delicious desserts like ice cream, cheesecake, & various puddings. Because it’s not as sweet as condensed milk, evaporated milk can even be used to create savory meals.
What’s the difference?
The main difference between evaporated milk & sweetened condensed milk is the consistency & the sweetness.
Due to its high sugar content, condensed milk does not need to be heat-sterilized like evaporated milk does. As a result, it does not achieve the same caramelized flavor as evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is unsweetened, whereas sweetened condensed milk is sweetened with added sugar, which acts as a natural preservative. Evaporated milk is about 10% sugar by weight, whereas fresh dairy milk naturally contains about 5% sugar, mainly in the form of lactose. Condensed milk typically contains 55% sugar.
Evaporated milk adds a lighter, airier texture to baked goods like pies & cakes, while condensed milk provides a dense creaminess.
Evaporated milk has a tan color due to the concentration of lactose & protein that occurs during cooking. Condensed milk is slightly lighter in color due to the high concentration of sugar. Whatever you do, DO NOT substitute one of these products for the other. We promise your dessert would not turn out as intended. You could end up making your dessert sweeter than anticipated or worse, it could be very bland. We recommend sticking to the original recipe to ensure a successful dessert!
You can find both sweetened condensed milk & evaporated milk on our website here.