There are many different kinds of milk – all of which hold different perks and benefits when it comes to baking.
Two kinds that are commonly used are condensed and evaporated milk – but what exactly is the difference, and what pros and cons do they have for the baking process?
Condensed & Evaporated Milk
Of course, when it comes to these two different types of milk, there are many distinctions that set them apart.
In simple terms, condensed milk refers to cow’s milk that has had all of the water removed from within it. While not all of the water has been removed, the usual figure for condensed milk is a removal of around 60% of the water.
Condensed milk usually includes added sugar, and as such can sometimes be referred to as ‘sweetened condensed milk’ – although this is not true in every case.
Evaporated milk – while very similar to condensed milk – does not contain as much of the added sugar. While still having around 60% of the water removed from the cow’s milk, evaporated milk is usually thought to be the healthier option from a dietary standpoint.
Because of this, it can sometimes be referred to as ‘unsweetened condensed milk’.
Condensed & Evaporated Milk: Potential Uses
Condensed and evaporated milk have several benefits within the baking industry, despite the fact that they contain more sugar and are considered less healthy.
Dulce De Leche
One of the pros of condensed milk is that the added sugar makes it suitable for a wide range of sweet desserts – including dulce de leche, wherein the condensed milk is boiled over a period of time to create a substance with an almost jellied texture, similar to gelato.
The sugar within the milk means that it can be caramelized, the sugar being heated until it becomes sticky – thus changing the consistency of the milk and turning it into a simple but tasty dessert.
In many places around the world, evaporated and condensed milk is commonly used as a topping for other desserts.
This is true in New Orleans, where condensed milk is commonly used as a topping for chocolate or cream flavored snowballs – a shaved ice dessert enjoyed in the city.
For Coffee & Tea
In many cultures around the world, including many Spanish and East Asian communities, condensed milk is often combined with coffee or tea to create a sweetened element to the final product.
In many of these communities, sweetened condensed milk is the chosen addition to hot caffeinated beverages, creating a distinct layer of jellied sweet milk, and creating a thicker, more indulgent dessert coffee.
Condensed & Evaporated Milk: The Benefits
Despite their slight differences – namely in sugar content – both types of milk have several benefits that make them suitable for a number of applications.
Long Shelf Life
One benefit is their long shelf life, which makes them suitable not only for personal cooking and baking, but also for industrial catering projects on larger scales.
This is one reason why they are used in baking, as their longevity makes them much more suited and cost effective than fresh cow’s milk.
Condensed and evaporated milk also do not require refrigeration to maintain their suitability and freshness. This makes them great for uses within the catering and hospitality industries, where refrigeration might not always be an option.
One notable use is in hotel rooms, where small containers can be provided for guests to use in coffee and tea – all without the need for refrigeration or specialist conditions to keep them fresh.
It also means that they can be stored much more easily.
Calories & Protein
They are also good sources of calories and protein, meaning that those looking to introduce more into their diets can easily incorporate them into their existing meals.
Condensed and evaporated milk is a great way for underweight people to gain weight, and due to their versatility, can easily be incorporated into meals and recipes to achieve this goal without any noticeable effort or change.
Condensed & Evaporated Milk: The Downsides
Despite this however, condensed milk still has many downsides.
One major downside of evaporated and condensed milk is that it tends to be high in calories – due in part to the sugar content.
Even evaporated milk has naturally occurring sugars within it – sugars that are found in all milk produced by cows.
This can make them unsuitable choices for anyone trying to maintain or lose weight, and can be a deceivingly prominent source of calories in an otherwise restricted diet.
Unsuitable For Lactose Intolerance
Despite not being as fresh as other kinds of milk, they are still unsuitable for people with lactose intolerance. While different in makeup to normal cow’s milk, they still contain the proteins and lactose, meaning that those with intolerances will suffer the same reactions if they are consumed.
However, some people with lower – or less severe – cases of lactose intolerance can handle small amounts of dairy throughout the day, and condensed or evaporated milk can be good choices if this is the case – namely because they can be kept and stored for longer periods of time.
The differences in flavor between fresh milk and evaporated/condensed milk can be problematic for some people.
This is because the sweetness is much more pronounced – something that can be tasty for some, but unpalatable for others.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about condensed and evaporated milk, and the differences therein.
It’s true that condensed and evaporated milk both have plenty of benefits to the baking process, and while both are different, they still prove largely popular amongst new and established bakers alike.
So, if you are looking for the perfect ingredient for cake making, then why not try either of these products? Something tells me you won’t be disappointed!