When half the water has been removed from whole milk, the resulting product is called evaporated milk. It is not the same as sweetened condensed milk, which is whole milk that has been boiled down and sweetened with sugar. Evaporated milk is graded according to its fat content, which ranges from whole to fat-free, and is sold in 5- and 12-ounce cans. Used directly from the can, evaporated milk contains the same calories as whole milk but is thicker, richer and creamier, all attributes that it passes on to whatever recipe it is used in. Evaporated milk is a handy substitute to keep on hand because it requires no refrigeration until it is opened.
Use whole or fat-free evaporated milk directly from the can and undiluted the same as you would light cream or half-and-half in recipes. Follow the recipe's directions for when to add it, or add it with the other wet ingredients.
Substitute canned evaporated milk equally for whole milk by adding water to it in a 50/50 ratio. Pour the desired amount of evaporated milk into a glass measuring cup and add an equal amount of cold water. Stir well to combine and proceed with your recipe.
Add evaporated milk undiluted and right from the can to fish, clam or corn chowder. Do not boil the mixture after adding the milk because this may cause it to curdle. Stir gently to incorporate the evaporated milk completely into the cooking liquid and keep warm over very low heat until you are ready to serve.
Use evaporated milk whole or diluted when making sauces for casseroles such as macaroni and cheese, creamed vegetables or potatoes au gratin. Make a standard sauce by adding the milk to a roux made from butter and flour before adding the shredded cheese, or make a simple cheese sauce by heating the evaporated milk and cheese together slowly in a saucepan over low heat. Combine sauce with cooked pasta before serving or baking in a casserole dish.
Add whole evaporated milk undiluted in pumpkin or squash pie, and use it whole or diluted to make instant or cooked puddings and other cooked desserts such as bread or rice pudding. Make omelets by adding a splash of undiluted evaporated milk to the beaten eggs. Mix completely before adding seasonings or other ingredients.
Substitute canned undiluted whole evaporated milk for regular whole milk in recipes for cakes and frostings. Add it to the cake ingredients with the other wet ingredients and use it to thin the frosting to a spreading consistency.
Make a quick dessert topping with a can of undiluted evaporated milk by placing the milk and the mixer beaters in a bowl. Place the bowl in the freezer and leave it there for about 30 minutes, or until the edges of the milk start to freeze. Whip the milk on high speed for about one minute or until it's bubbly, then slowly add the sugar and vanilla flavoring. Beat for two more minutes or until the topping is stiff like whipped cream. Serve immediately as you would any other whipped topping.
Rachel Lovejoy has been writing professionally since 1990 and currently writes a weekly column entitled "From the Urban Wilderness" for the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, Maine, as well as short novellas for Amazon Kindle. Lovejoy graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in English.