Evaporated skim milk beating out cream

THIN PEAKS

September 27, 1992|By Kim Pierce

In the fat-phobic '90s, evaporated skimmed milk is scaling peaks once reserved for cream.

The canned product adds the richness of cream to soups, sauces and desserts, with almost none of the fat. Because half the water is removed, or evaporated, the consistency of evaporated skimmed milk more resembles regular whole milk.

And evaporated skimmed milk does something whole milk doesn't.

It whips like cream, "with peaks and everything," says Jeanne Jones, whose new book is "Eating Smart: The ABC's of the New Food Literacy" (Macmillan, $17).

The trade-off is impressive. A 2-tablespoon serving of plain whipped cream -- not much in the real world of dessert toppings -- has 16 calories and 1.3 grams of fat. For two calories more and none of the fat, you can have twice as much evaporated skimmed milk whipped with sugar and flavorings.

Although the distinctive taste of evaporated skimmed milk -- a thin, cooked caramel flavor common to canned milk products -- is a turnoff to some people, experts say flavorings and herbs bring out its best.

Ms. Jones boosts the flavor with almond and vanilla extracts and sugar. One cup whips up to a whopping 5 1/2 cups of airy topping; the secret is to chill the beaters, bowl and milk beforehand. In contrast, a cup of cream makes three whipped cups.

Barbara Gollman, a registered dietitian and cooking teacher in Dallas, tops desserts with frozen yogurt made from evaporated skimmed milk.

Evaporated skimmed milk offers an easy way for people who long have enjoyed the flavor of evaporated milk in homemade ice cream to trim the fat in this rich dessert. Strawberries and peaches would be naturals to blend in, says Ms. Jones. It also works in custards.

Introduced in the late '60s, evaporated skimmed milk didn't catch on until the past few years, when Americans started getting the message about eating less fat. Pet Foods Co. Inc. repackaged its evaporated skimmed milk in 1985, says a spokeswoman, and "it's done very well since then." Sales of Carnation brand have increased steadily since 1987, according to Nestle Food Co.

Made by removing 60 percent of the water and all but a fraction of the fat, the concentrated evaporated milk contains more than twice the calories of regular skim milk -- 198 in a cup, compared to 90. But the fat count stays low -- half a gram or less per cup.

And at 738 milligrams per cup, it's a calcium powerhouse that bests all other milk products.

"It's more stable than fresh milk," says Ms. Gollman. "It won't curdle as readily with the addition of acids like lemon juice or vinegar or high heat."

To hold curdling to a minimum, Carol Taylor, a home economist with Nestle, recommends going easy on the high-acid ingredients, such as wine, tomatoes or sharp Cheddar cheese. (Mild Cheddar is OK.) She also suggests using low heat for the smoothest sauces.

Ms. Gollman uses evaporated skimmed milk to finish soups, whichshe first thickens with pureed vegetables.

She also makes what she called "nutritionally correct" white sauces. Instead of using a high-fat flour-and-butter roux, she thickens them with cornstarch or arrowroot; evaporated skimmed milk replaces milk or cream.

@Vanilla frozen yogurt

Make 8 servings.

2/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skimmed milk

1 egg, slightly beaten

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 vanilla bean

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups plain, non-fat yogurt, stirred

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in milk, beaten egg and corn syrup. Cook, stirring, over low heat until mixture thickens and coats a metal spoon. Remove from heat; cool.

Slit the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the mixture along with the vanilla extract and yogurt. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's instructions.

(Per serving: calories: 153; fat: 1 gram; cholesterol: 29 milligrams; sodium: 100 milligram; percent calories from fat: 5 percent.)

Source: adapted from "Frozen Yogurt."

Whipped evaporated milk

5 1/2 cups or 22 servings.

1 cup evaporated skimmed milk

1/4 to 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

Pour evaporated milk into small mixing bowl. Chill with beaters in freezer 30 to 45 minutes, or until ice crystals form around edge of bowl. Beat on high for about 1 minute or until very frothy. Gradually add sugar and flavorings; continue beating for 2 minutes or until mixture is very stiff. Serve immediately or keep covered in refrigerator for up to an hour.

Note: Whole or low-fat canned evaporated milk may also be whipped this way.

(Per serving: calories: 18; fat: negligible; cholesterol: none; sodium: 13 milligram; percent calories from fat: 1 percent.)

Lemon basil pasta with smoked chicken

Makes 4 servings.

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skimmed milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup gin, vermouth or vodka

3 ( 1/2 -inch) lemon peel strips, yellow part only

1/2 red bell pepper or whole jalapeno (seeded)

1 pound fresh fettuccine or linguine

1/3 to 1/2 cup minced basil leaves, plus extra for garnish

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