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  Make homemade evaporated milk and homemade sweetened condensed milk - the easy way!

Want to avoid all the thickeners and preservatives that some brands of evaporated milk use? Make it at home!

Evaporated milk, that slightly thick milk that typically comes in a can, is a fairly easy ingredient to make at home, considering it has only one ingredient: milk.

But despite its simplicity, it's also a bit cumbersome when done in the traditional way on the stovetop, which is how I've done it for years.

To make evaporated milk, you heat milk and evaporate away 60% of its volume. The final result is silky and sweet and it's what we use to make many creamy concoctions where whipping cream is too heavy and whole milk is too light, such as homemade condensed cream of mushroom soup.

Its cousin, sweetened condensed milk, which is used in many beloved holiday recipes, is exactly the same thing except you whisk in a bit of sugar as part of the condensing process.

While this sounds simple, the cumbersome aspect comes in the method. In order to keep the milk from scorching while it heats and to keep it evaporating efficiently, we have to keep it on very low heat and whisk it often. And honestly, I have yet to make a batch where I haven't scorched it, even when my burner is on its very lowest setting and I whisked every five minutes for hours on end.

But then I realized an easier way was to be had. πŸ™‚

Slow cooker, to the rescue!

A slow cooker is an easy way to heat the milk evenly without scorching it – or at least minimizing the amount that sticks to the sides.

It's also a fairly hands-off method, so you can go about your day much more freely without having to remember to whisk the milk every few minutes. I still take off the skin that forms on the top every hour or so, just to keep it evaporating efficiently and to minimize the amount that sticks to the side, but other than that, you can just let it sit while you go about your day.

Oh, and please remember that slow cookers vary wildly in their temperatures and in their volume, so while I've listed what typically works for me, just keep an eye on yours and adjust as needed. I suggest giving yourself at least 24 hours for this project the first time you make it. You likely won't need anywhere near that amount of time, but better safe than sorry. πŸ™‚

Make homemade evaporated milk and homemade sweetened condensed milk - the easy way!

 

Homemade Evaporated Milk
makes approximately 3 cups evaporated milk
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Ingredients
  1. 2 quarts (8 cups) of milk
Instructions
  1. First, pour three cups of water into the empty slow cooker and use a ruler to measure the depth. Note this measurement, as this is the depth your milk will be when it is finished.
  2. Pour water out and place the milk in the slow cooker. Heat on high for 18-20 hours with the lid off, unless you notice scorching, then switch it to low. Remove the skin that forms on the top periodically, especially toward the end of cooking, but don't scrape up any milk that cooks onto the sides.
  3. When the evaporated milk has reached the desired depth, pour into a clean jar or pitcher and use in your favorite recipes. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
  4. To clean the slow cooker, simply fill the slow cooker insert with water and let sit for 6-8 hours, then scrape off any baked on gunk with a spoon and polish it smooth with a bit of baking soda. If it needs to be resoaked (which was regularly the case with my pots and pans when I did this on the stovetop, but not yet once with a slow cooker), place white vinegar and baking soda together in the insert to form a paste. Let foam, then dab the paste thickly onto the stuck on food. Let sit for 1-2 hours, then refill with water and let sit another 4-6 hours. Rinse off and wash as normal.
Nourishing Joy http://nourishingjoy.com/
Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
makes approximately 3 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk
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Ingredients
  1. 7 cups of milk
  2. 2 cups liquid sugar (maple syrup, honey, etc) OR crystalline sugar (evaporated cane sugar, sucanat, etc)
  3. 4 tablespoons butter
  4. 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. First, pour 3 1/4 cups of water into the empty slow cooker and use a ruler to measure the depth. Note this measurement, as this is the depth your milk will be when it is finished.
  2. Pour water out and place the milk and the liquid sugar in the slow cooker and stir to combine. Heat on low for 19-21 hours with the lid off. (If you're using a crystalline sugar, whisk it regularly during the first hour after it begins to steam in order to fully dissolve the crystals. Remove the skin that forms on the top periodically, especially toward the end of cooking, but don't scrape up any milk that cooks onto the sides.
  3. When the sweetened condensed milk has reached the desired depth, pour into a large bowl and add the butter and the vanilla. Once the butter is melted, whisk well and pour into a clean jar or pitcher and use in your favorite recipes. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Notes
  1. Note: Using a liquid sugar is the easiest method by far when using a slow cooker to make homemade sweetened condensed milk, but liquid sugars tend to be highly flavorful as well, so they may not be appropriate for your final outcome. I find maple syrup provides my favorite, most multi-functional sweetened condensed milk, but if you need something more flavor-neutral, use an evaporated cane sugar.
Nourishing Joy http://nourishingjoy.com/
Make homemade evaporated milk and homemade sweetened condensed milk - the easy way!

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15 thoughts on “How to Make Homemade Evaporated Milk and Sweetened Condensed Milk (the Easy Way)

  1. Lori Sosa says:

    Could regular sugar be used, and how much? As much as I hate to use it, I live in Argentina and am not sure if I’ll be able to find a healthier alternative. :/

    • Kresha Faber says:

      No, I haven’t, merely because canning dairy products requires a pressure canner and the wisdom & trained eye that comes with plenty of canning experience – neither of which I have. I typically stick to tried-and-true water bath canning with fruits and vegetables. πŸ™‚

      If you (or anyone else) has experience with canning dairy products, would you mind sharing your wisdom?

  2. Shelley says:

    These recipes are great, thank you. Have you tried cooking the milk in a container instead of straight in the slow cooker? I made dulce de leche in the slow cooker in canning jars and it worked well, except it used premade sweetened condensed milk which tasted very chemically.

  3. Deb says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I made it today for my Thanksgiving pies. I halved the recipe and did what the previous commenter posted about cooking it in a smaller dish in the crock pot. I did a water bath – I’m not sure if that’s what she meant or not, but I wasn’t sure it would work otherwise. Mine was done in about 9.5 hours (which was a relief because I didn’t want to have to get up at 3 a.m. to finish it). πŸ™‚

    I’m just wondering if you’ve ever found a use for the milk “skin” (the fat you skim off). I get it when I make homemade yogurt, too, and it seems like such a waste to throw away.

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Thanks for sharing what worked for you! The water bath is a great idea. πŸ™‚

      As for the skin – which is actually coagulated milk proteins, not fat – I must admit I’ve never found a use for it, even when I’m heating milk for coffee or hot chocolate. Maybe it could be chopped up and dehydrated for a faux milk powder? Although it’s mostly whey, so it likely wouldn’t be terribly tasty….

      Perhaps another reader could chime in?

      Have a happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Chris High says:

    I like the slow cooker idea. Would a double boiler work? What do you think about those nuwave cookers, would those work as we could control the temperature.

    Thank you

    • Kresha Faber says:

      Yes, a double boiler should work just fine! And I’ve never used a Nuwave oven, so I can’t give a thoughtful response on that. Perhaps another reader has tried it or has insight to share?

      Enjoy the evaporated milk!

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  6. Rachel K says:

    THANK YOU! I will have to give this a try–my dad is lactose intolerant and I’ve never been able to find lactose-free evaporated or sweetened condensed milk. This’ll let me make some with Lactaid. πŸ™‚

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