Difference between: evaporated milk and condensed milk

Our two items for this week’s Difference Between are made the same way and are extremely similar, and yet, you cannot use them interchangeably in recipes.

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The definitions, according to Dictionary.com:

  • Evaporated milk: unsweetened milk thickened and concentrated by evaporation of water content to approximately half the original weight and then sterilized and canned.
  • Condensed milk: whole milk reduced by evaporation to a thick consistency, with sugar added.

In addition, both evaporated and condensed milk have roughly 60% of their water removed.

The only difference between the two is the sugar content; condensed milk contains quite a lot of sugar. In other words, unsweetened condensed milk is exactly the same as evaporated milk. In the culinary world, sweetened condensed milk is always referred to as simply condensed milk.

Interestingly, condensed milk has been around longer than evaporated milk. TheKitchn.com explains that the sugar in condensed milk served as an additional preservative, which was a necessary precaution before canning procedures further developed. Now of course, both forms of evaporated milk are available canned.

Not surprisingly, evaporated milk is more nutritious than condensed, because of the sugar content. However, DifferenceBetween.net also points out that the government regulations ensure Vitamin A, C, and D are in evaporated milk, but only Vitamin A must be in condensed. 

Evaporated milk can be used as a substitute for milk in coffee or tea; it is also used in  dishes in which a creamy texture is required, such as in a custard, gravy, or quiche. Condensed milk is used more for desserts, such as candies, puddings, and pies.

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