Condensed milk is a mixture of whole milk and 40%% sugar, heated until 60%% of the water evaporates, creating a sticky, sweet mixture. Unsweetened condensed milk is referred to as evaporated milk.
Unopened, a can will keep for 6 months. Once opened, 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
Substitutions: 1/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk + 3/4 cup sugar + 2 tbsp butter or margarine & heat all until dissolved = 1 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk combine 1 cup + 2 tbsp nonfat dry milk powder + 1/2 cup warm water, then add 3/4 cup sugar = 1 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk
The two terms, condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk, have become synonymous; though there have been unsweetened condensed milk products, today these are uncommon.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Since condensed milk contains sugar, it's important that you read your recipe carefully to know whether you need evaporated or condensed milk. They are generally not interchangable. Condensed milk is very popular for use in desserts and sweets. You can cut the caloric count down a bit by reducing the sugar in the recipe. Condensed milk is a prime ingredient in old-fashioned key lime pie. Condensed milk in baked goods lends crust color, tenderness, moisture, and flavor.
Raw milk is clarified and standardized, and then is heated to 85-90°C for several seconds. This heating destroys some microorganisms, decreases fat separation and inhibits oxidation. Some water is evaporated from the milk and sugar is added to approximately 45%. This sugar is what extends the shelf life of sweetened condensed milk. Sucrose increases the liquid's osmotic pressure, which prevents microorganism growth. The sweetened evaporated milk is cooled and lactose crystallization is induced
Conserving and Storing
Unlike evaporated milk, condensed milk usually does have an expiration date, so check the can label closely when purchasing. Both should always be refrigerated after opening. Due to its high sugar content, condensed milk will last longer after opening than evaporated milk, but use both optimally within five to seven days after opening.