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Monday, April 11, 2011

Evaporated Milk

Our family drinks a lot of milk.  We have one son still living at home, and he and I go through 2 gallons of milk a week.  When we had both boys at home, it was about double that.

Milk is far and away the biggest "hole" in our home preps.  Plain and simple, powdered (any kind of dehydrated) milk sucks.  Big time.  It's palatable when mixed with something else, like pudding or worked into other recipes, but on its own, it's pretty horrible stuff.

On top of tasting lousy, powdered milk doesn't have a significant shelf life.  6 months to a year, depending on when you buy the stuff after delivery to the store.

I wanted better tasting stuff, so I decided to give evaporated milk a try.

Now, don't confuse evaporated milk with condensed milk.  Condensed milk is typically sweetened - heavily - and is used almost exclusively in baking and various deserts.

Evaporated milk, on the other hand, has been cooked down to 40% of it's former volume (60% of the water has been removed).  It comes in 5 oz and 12 oz cans.  In theory, by simply adding that 60% of water back in, you should have regular milk again.

I searched around on the Internet, and found a couple of suggestions.  The first was to add back an equal amount of water (50/50), and the other was to add back the full 60% of missing water (40/60).

To judge the drinkability, I decided to do both, and compare them to our regular milk, which is of the 2% butterfat variety.

Opening the can, the first thing you notice is that the milk has a yellow/slight caramel color.  This is due to the cooking/evaporation process.  When poured into a can, it was noticeably thicker, as expected.

I took two, 12 oz cans.  For the first, I added a can-full of water.  For the second, I added a can and a half.  Both batches went into the fridge for a couple of hours to get chilled.

Out they came, and the taste test was on -

From left to right, they're 2% regular milk, 50/50 evaporated, and 40/60 evaporated.

I tasted the regular first to set a baseline.  I then tasted the 50/50.  It was noticeably creamier on the tongue, but the flavor was very good.  It didn't taste like canned, processed milk.  It's color was quite a bit yellower than the regular milk.

The 40/60 milk was next.  Honestly, I could not tell the difference between it and the regular milk.  I was blown away.  The color was slightly more yellow than the regular milk, but if you hadn't been told it came from a can, you'd have never known.

I had my son do the same test, and he had the same impression as I did about the 50/50 milk, and said he could taste "something" vaguely different with the 40/60.  Personally, I think it was more that he knew it was from a can than it was about the real taste.

The cans I bought had over a 12 month "best by" date.  They were 12 oz and cost 75 cents each.  When made with the 40/60 dilution, that resulted in 30 fluid ounces of milk, or approximately $3 per gallon.  That's only slightly more than what I'm paying for fresh milk right now!

Accept The Challenge

If you want something that tastes more like fresh milk for your preps, give evaporated milk a try.  Be sure you check the "best by" dates on your cans, though.

The cans I bought were Carnation brand.  The PET and house brands only had a 6 month shelf life remaining.

Storage will also be an issue.  Much more weigh and bulk when compared to powdered milk.  It's feasible for home storage, but probably not a great idea for bug-out-bags or similar storage that is expected to be mobile.

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Copyright 2011 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Andrea said...

I actually like powdered least the Emergency Essentials brand in the blue can. I find it far more palatable than fresh skim milk...and my son says "it's only a little gross" :) But I can't stand the stuff they sell at Walmart or Aldi's; it's like reconstituted cardboard flavor.

That said, I also stock up on evaporated milk and found a source of raw milk without going through the herd-share red tape...unfortunately it's 30 minutes away. If things go bad, I may consider some night-time moo raids at the pasture down the road.

Shy Wolf said...

LOL, Andrea- 'Moo raids'... are those anything like what we used to do during the 'carrot raids'? :D
Not being a milk drinker these days, or many previous, I buy condensed milk for cooking and baking- if I ever get around to baking. Love it in potato soup. My son tried reconstituted one time and emptied the bottle into the sink- said it didn't taste right. But that, I think, is because we get farm fresh whole milk and it does taste different.
When storing the canned milk, be sure to shake and flip the cans every month or so or you'll get a solid bottom like paint cans left sitting. And just as hard.

suek said...

When I had 4 boys at home, we went through a gallon a day. I bought a couple of goats. They were Nubian-Saanen crosses - big airplane ears. They looked a lot like deer - enough that I locked them up during hunting season.

They really produce the gallon of milk a day for about 4 months, then begin to taper off. And, of course, unless you want to butcher the kids very young, you have to give up some of that gallon to feed the kids (4-legged) - sometimes one, frequently 2. If you stagger the breedings, you can optimally have at least one of them in high production throughout the year - though it would be better to have three if your need is high and consistent. Dairy goats normally are only breedable between about the first of Sept and the first of February - which adds yet another obstacle to your year round supply.

So why goats? because goats max production is a gallon or a gallon plus per day. If you get a cow, you can expect to get about 5 gallons per day - even with a not so good producing Jersey. Holsteins in dairy herds are expected to produce 10 gallons +/- per day!!! That's a _lot_ of milk!

Goats don't take a lot of space, and as long as you don't get a buck, don't smell bad. Bucks have _strong_ scent glands around the base of their horns. Girl goats like it. Most humans find it pretty objectionable. Goats don't really eat a lot of grass - they're related to deer (well, sort of) - and prefer to browse rather than graze. They need high protein feeds - good quality alfalfa is their preferred feed. They'd probably give less milk if they were restricted to grass pastures. Do not let them have access to any of the berry bushes or rose bushes...they will eat them down to the ground! On the plus side, they'll do the same to poison ivy. Oh yes...and milk weed. You know those horrible stickery heads on milk weed? They position them carefully so that their back teeth can bite down on the stem, then just munch them up. Amazing to watch!

suek said...

Oh yeah...and about the "goaty" flavor. Some depends on breeding, but mostly it depends on the presence of a buck. Milk will absorb odors - so no bucks in the milking area.

Also, the milk should be filtered and chilled as quickly as possible, and stored in glass containers. Plastic will retain a film of milk fat, which will get goaty after a bit and contaminate your fresh milk. Even dishwashers don't seem to get all of it off.

By the third day in the frig, the milk would get a bit of goaty taste, (if it lasted that long) and I'd make chocolate pudding (cornstarch pudding). It disappeared within an hour or so after they got home from school. (chocolate is the flavor ice cream makers use if any of their experimental flavors don't work out as well as they thought they would. It overpowers virtually all of the other flavors.) Cornstarch pudding is _very_ easy to make. "Joy of Cooking" is my source for proportions. It's pretty much like package Jello pudding - but you can adjust quantities easier. And it's a lot cheaper.

Anonymous said...

try this recipe ... measure out ...

1 part dry milk
2 parts water
pinch salt
2-3 drops vanilla per qt
1/2 t sugar per qt

mix chill enjoy it works

Chief Instructor said...

Andrea, I still haven't found a dry milk product I like as drinkable, but I'll give the EE stuff a try.

I've also got some major dairy farms about 45 mins away that I never thought about buying from. No idea if they do that. I need to look into that.

Shy, I know you need to shake the stuff up, but didn't know about the regular flipping of the cans. Need to add that to my "to do" calendar...

Sue, I've never had goat milk straight. Cheese, but not milk.

I'm a bit weird, and like "gamey" meat - mutton, etc. Go figure. I love goat. I've got a buddy of Armenian descent, and he always brings some sort of goat dish whenever we have a party.

A friend of my wife's who lives on a local farm (orchards) just got a goat. I'm not sure what kind, but it's strictly a pet. No "goat on the barbie" in his future!

Anon, I'll give it a try. I've seen similar "fixes". I'm going to try and make a dry milk cheese tomorrow, as I have a bunch that is reaching its freshness date.

Andrea said...

Buying straight from the farm is definitely worth looking into. I bring my own containers and pay $1.50 a gallon...whole milk at Kroger is running $3.00+ a gallon in our area, if that puts it into perspective.

Tracy Dear said...

There is a lot of discussion on LDS blogs about the different kinds of powdered milk. There are two kinds (drying process) one is for short term and one is for long term. Preparedness Pro raves about the dried milk she uses, and just wrote a long informative article about it in the past 4-6 weeks.
Myself, I also get evaporated milk. We only use about a gallon a week since I stopped buying cereal. Raw milk here, after driving to the farm (20 min) to get it, is $7. Organic milk at my grocery store is $5.39 and regular milk is in the $2-3 range (I don't know).
I get "bricks" (case of 12) cans of Carnation at Costco for $11.
I like the study of the sunken ship in the Mississippi, they found the canned food, still good over 80 years later. So flip the cans, FIFO, and all that, but don't worry too much.

Chief Instructor said...

Andrea, very cool. I need to look into that. Next time I head to Sacramento, I need to take a little detour...

Mama, I've got to take a look at her post, and I'm going to give the stuff Andrea mentioned as well. The stuff I get at the store is just horrible.

I've just started putting up the evap milk. I always try to hold off some of my new preps to take them past their typical due date to see if they're still edible. I won't be testing it for 80 years - maybe 3!

suek said...

I wonder about that "typical due date" myself. It usually says "best by", or "use by"...or sometimes nothing but the date.

I wonder if there are any standards. My understanding is that unless the can is breeched in some way - rusting for example - the contents will still be "good". At least in the sense that they wouldn't be harmful to your health. Tasty??? that's a different standard!

Sort of like freezer food - it may be safe, but if it's freezer burned, you aren't going to like it much. Desperation would no doubt overcome the flavor handicap, but still....

Jack said...

Condensed milk has a longer real shelf life than evaporated milk, for what its worth.

When we've lived abroad, we found it was often times cheaper to buy evaporated milk and reconstitute it than just buying expensive UHT crap.

Here's how I prepared it:
Pour one can of evaporated milk into a quart rubbermaid bottle. Next I'd put a tablespoon of condensed milk into the bottle and then it fill it up with water. I'd shake it up and put it in the ref. The kids loved drinking it up and I admit it tasted really good, better than any other kind of milk we could get.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who don't like powdered milk, Walmart now sells a milk in their ethnic foods section/Mexican called NIDO made by Nestles. It is a powdered WHOLE milk and taste much better than the powdered nonfat dry milk available. However, due to the fat content it's shelf life will not be as long as that of fat free milk or canned milk.

Julie said...

Thank you for the great tips.

I recently bought some long life milk & tried it this week, one word for it - awful!

I'm now going to try your ideas with tinned Carnation milk & adding water to it.

Unknown said...

if you want real milk in powdered form try nido its at Walmart it is good I use it for camping or just to have when it snows to much an we are stuck at home