A condensed milk recipe is one of those frugal kitchen tips that should taste especially sweet for those of us wanting to save money whenever we make a favorite pie recipe. Pumpkin pie comes to mind. There have been many times in the past when I had pumpkin on hand, but no canned milk.
The same goes for those wonderful, gooey, easy desserts that call for condensed milk. I wish I'd known about this recipe back then. Little slips of paper containing these recipes have been collecting dust for years, untried because I’m too dang cheap to buy the canned milk. Now I use this recipe and bake away.
Spoiled milk was a real problem in the early 1900s, when there was no refrigeration. My grandmother used to tell me that babies who weren't breastfed often died before their second birthday from diarrhea caused by sour milk. To provide folks living in the cities with a safer supply, companies began producing and selling canned milk.
Then refrigeration came about, so to encourage people to continue buying their product, companies created recipes calling for evaporated and condensed milk. These recipes have been haunting the frugally minded ever since, hinting of dire consequences for failing to add these products to pies and dessert bars.
Sugar is the difference. Evaporated milk and unsweetened condensed milk are exactly the same. The unsweetened and evaporated versions are used for recipes such as soups and coffee drinks you want to make creamy without making them sweet. Sweetened condensed milk on the other hand is used for desserts and pie recipes.
That's when this recipe will come in handy, but if a recipe calls for evaporated milk, this condensed milk recipe will work just as well, but you will need to then add less sugar to your recipe.
Milk is evaporated until 60 percent of the water is gone.
Then the milk is homogenized - intense pressure is put on the milk until the fat globules are decreased in diameter and will no longer rise to the top.
After that, the milk is fortified with vitamins and stabilizers (dipotassium phosphate and calcium carrageenan according to the can I had on hand) and canned. Evaporated milk is supposed to have at least 7.9 percent of milk fat in it. My store-bought version also contained soybean oil.
The evaporated/condensed version is creamier than regular milk. Mix condensed milk with any acidic ingredient – such as lemon juice, cider vinegar, buttermilk or sour cream – and it will thicken naturally without requiring heat.
Here's the recipe:
Put all the ingredients called for in this recipe in your food processor or electric blender and process on medium-low speed for two minutes. Allow the milk to cool to room temperature before using.
You can store this in the refrigerator for up to one week. This condensed milk recipe makes 14 ounces – a sufficient amount for any pumpkin pie recipe with maybe a little left over depending on the recipe you use.