I want more bechamel
May 2, 2010 3:49 PM   Subscribe

I want a milk substitute, but it should still be milk based.

Some of my favorite sauces, soups and breads use milk as an ingredient. However, I don't drink milk (terrible childhood experience I have not gotten over). When I buy some for a recipe I never use it all by the time it goes bad and end up throwing it out. What can I use instead? I've seen powdered, condensed and evaporated milk in the stores but don't know which one to use and in what ratio to regular milk. Soy juice is not an option.
posted by nestor_makhno to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't drink milk either, but if I need some for a recipe I often buy either heavy cream or half-and-half; you can get it in a smaller container so I'm not so worried about it going bad, and if I have leftovers I'll just make a 5-minute cream sauce for pasta. Of course, this does increase the fat content.
posted by Jeanne at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2010

I'd just buy single-serving parmalat containers. You'll find them with the juiceboxes. They don't need refrigeration, so you won't have to worry about any excess going bad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:54 PM on May 2, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've tried the half and half route and it helps but I still end up wasting some. I should have mentioned that I would like something that I can always have in the pantry so I don't have to go to the store just because I crave mac n' cheese at 3 AM.
posted by nestor_makhno at 3:55 PM on May 2, 2010

From this PDF:
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk + 1 cup water = 1 cup non-fat milk
2/3 cup nonfat dry milk + 1 pint water = 1 pint non-fat milk

For baking: Add dry milk solids to the dry ingredients and water to the liquid ingredients or reconstitute the dry milk solids and add the milk when called for in the recipe. Add more nutritional value to baked products by mixing 1 Tablespoon of dry milk solids with other dry ingredients.

In cooked cereals: Add 3 Tablespoons dry milk solids to each 1/2 cup of dry cereal. Then use the same amount of water or milk called for in the regular recipe.

For cocoa, custard, pudding, and cream soup: Add 1/3 cup dry milk solids for each cup of liquid called for in the recipe.
posted by Houstonian at 3:56 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

evaporated milk.
posted by elle.jeezy at 3:56 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been using heavy cream for things like French toast; otherwise I keep little cans of evaporated milk to use when I need it. Powdered milk works too; you just mix that or the evaporated stuff according to directions and you have plain old milk.
posted by dilettante at 3:57 PM on May 2, 2010

I've used Parmalat and dried milk. Dried milk wins, especially from a economical standpoint - it's much cheaper and it lasts a damn long time. There will be mixing directions on the package, or see what Houstonian posted.

I am totally guilty of just keeping a packet of dried milk rolled up and spooning tiny amounts into my tea when there is no regular milk.

Condensed milk is sweetened and is not a substitute for normal milk.

Evaporated milk is suitable for cooking, but not for small-amount-usage, because it usually comes in cans. It becomes 'normal' milk when an equal amount of water is added to the concentrated milk liquid. If you dilute it less, it is more like cream/half&half for baking.
posted by cobaltnine at 4:04 PM on May 2, 2010

If you're just worried about milk used for recipes going bad, keep in mind that milk can generally be frozen and saved for later.
posted by Diplodocus at 4:07 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Freeze whatever you don't use in an ice cube tray, then store the cubes in an airtight container. Thaw out however much you need for a recipe.
posted by corey flood at 4:08 PM on May 2, 2010

Yeah, I keep the 8oz containers of shelf-stable milk in my cupboard and they work fine. I've tried to use dried milk in the past but I never get through the giant box in time. I don't know if you're in the US, but in the midwest I can buy three packs of Horizon organic shelf stable milk that lasts long enough for me to use it.
posted by sugarfish at 4:22 PM on May 2, 2010

Milk powder is the way to go here. Store it in an airtight container somewhere cool and make it up as needed. Evaporated milk will give you too much, condensed milk is something else entirely. Freezing actual milk works fine too. I think it goes a little weird and watery for drinking but you're not drinking it anyway and cooking with it is fine.

Sometimes you can also substitute in coconut milk or cream. Gives a different flavour (which can be wonderful or just odd depending on the recipe), but you might like it more given your aversion to liquid milk.
posted by shelleycat at 4:24 PM on May 2, 2010

Seconding Parmalat. Not only does it keep on your shelf for a long time, it stays fresh in your fridge once you open it much longer than ordinary milk. And as PhoB says, you can get 8-oz cartons.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:31 PM on May 2, 2010

I'm a non-milk user who needs milk for things like killer mac and cheese and such. For a long time, I relied on my mom, and would drive out to my parents' to grab a cup of milk. Yeah, not the best solution.

I've ended up freezing milk. I buy the tiniest container I can (a quart) when I need it, and then freeze the rest in ice cubes. The cubes go into a bag, and then I estimate how many I need for my next milk-based adventure.

I've never tried evaporated milk. Don't try powdered milk - even in dishes where you think it could hide, it doesn't, because it's an instrument of the devil. I use it in bread, but nothing else. It does work great in bread.

Now I'm really intrigued by Parmalot - for the sake of science, I'll try it out and report back.

For science. Not for my lust of mac and cheese.
posted by punchtothehead at 4:59 PM on May 2, 2010

My husband and I have your same milk aversion, so we also only use milk in cooking. Our grocery store sells it by the pint, so we just grab one of those when we know we'll need some for cooking and we can usually use it all up before it expires. I think the pints are intended to be a single serving drink sort of thing for most people (there's always strawberry and chocolate milk pints with the regular), but it's ideal for us.
posted by chiababe at 5:01 PM on May 2, 2010

I'd get powdered milk (a full-fat version, not nonfat, if available), make it according to the package directions for whatever quantity you need, then freeze the leftover powder to keep it from going bad.

We used powdered milk almost exclusively when I was a kid, and I do remember it smelling kind of yucky; now I know why.

FWIW (I know you said no soy), I keep soy milk powder around for recipes -- for cereal, etc., I use rice milk, which tastes a lot better. Almond milk tastes fantastic, but I think I'm allergic to it, unfortunately.
posted by amtho at 5:05 PM on May 2, 2010

I use this stuff which I buy at Walmart in the small cans in the Mexican food section. I hate non fat powdered milk, but every time I buy whole milk, it goes bad, so this stuff was a lifesaver.
posted by patheral at 5:33 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think your best best is the shelf-stable 8oz containers, as mentioned, but just so you know - evaporated milk is milk with less water in it, so you could mix it with water (1:1) to get regular milk for a recipe. Condensed milk usually refers to sweetened condensed milk, which has a lot of sugar added and cannot be used instead of regular milk.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2010

Oops, just realized that cobaltnine already explained the different types of milk.

Also - instead of a giant box of dry milk, you might be able to buy a smaller quantity at a store that sells in bulk. I know one of the Whole Foods stores near me sells nonfat dried milk in the bulk bins - maybe Whole Foods or a natural foods store near you does the same, and you could buy just a cup or two.
posted by insectosaurus at 5:45 PM on May 2, 2010

Thank you everyone. Second question, once the shelf stable milk has been opened does it need to be refrigerated and/or consumed in a specific amount of time?

I think I will try the parmalot and the powdered stuff and see what I like better. I would try freezing regular milk but I have very limited freezer space. I see lots of awesome mac 'n cheese in my future.
posted by nestor_makhno at 5:57 PM on May 2, 2010

Additionally, it is surprising how often you can substitute a spoonful of plain yogurt for milk in recipes (including mac & cheese!). I wouldn't put it in my coffee, but it's definitely nice to keep in the fridge & add to soups and things.
posted by judith at 6:09 PM on May 2, 2010

yes once you open the shelf-stable stuff it needs to be refrigerated. some industry promo lit from back in the day says it will keep for up to two weeks.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:54 PM on May 2, 2010

FWIW, I believe it's spelled "Parmalat" (note the final 'a'; no 'o').
posted by amtho at 7:59 PM on May 2, 2010

Horizon Organic also makes a shelf-stable milk in an 8 ounce container, if you can't find the Parmalat.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:47 PM on May 2, 2010

You could also try getting the little juice-box sized milks that are intended for kids' lunches. I've seen 'em in shelf-stable three-packs, perhaps 6 or 8 ounces each.
posted by ourobouros at 6:12 AM on May 3, 2010

I balked at buying the shelf stable Parmalat. It is just too weird to see milk not being refrigerated. I am now using powdered milk to great success. Thanks everyone!
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:09 PM on June 2, 2010

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