Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, is a shelf-stable canned milk product with about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk. It differs from sweetened condensed milk, which contains added sugar. Sweetened condensed milk requires less processing since the added sugar inhibits bacterial growth.
The product takes up half the space of its nutritional equivalent in fresh milk. When the liquid product is mixed with a proportionate amount of water, evaporated milk becomes the rough equivalent of fresh milk. This makes evaporated milk attractive for shipping purposes and can have a shelf life of months or even years, depending upon the brand. This made evaporated milk very popular before refrigeration was a safe and reliable substitute for perishable fresh milk, that could be shipped easily to locations lacking the means of safe milk production or storage. Households in the western world use it most often today for desserts and baking due to its unique flavor. It is also used as a substitute for pouring cream, as an accompaniment to desserts, or (undiluted) as a rich substitute for milk.