If you’re making an old recipe of our grandma’s you may notice that a lot of them are calling for sweet milk. The first thing that may come to your mind to use is sweetened condensed milk. But this is a big mistake.
Read further to find out what sweet milk actually is, and what you should use instead of it.
What Is Sweet Milk?
Back in the day, sweet milk was called whole milk. Which may be misleading. During the Great Depression, people used all the ingredients so they didn’t throw away anything. Because of that, they called regular milk – sweet milk to differentiate it from other types of milk products like sour cream and buttermilk.
Ok, but why is it called sweet milk if it is not sweet? It all comes in comparison. The whole milk was called sweet milk because it is sweeter than regular buttermilk.
They renamed the whole milk because then most recipes were calling for regular whole milk and buttermilk. To avoid any confusion the plain milk was called the sweet milk as it is a little sweet, while the buttermilk has a light sour taste as it contains lactic acids.
Besides the taste, you may also notice that the sweet milk and buttermilk have a different consistency. Because of the curdling process, the buttermilk is thicker than regular sweet milk and it has less milk fat.
What Does It Taste Like?
Sweet milk is the exact ingredient as whole milk. The sweet fresh milk has a slightly sweet taste and a slightly creamy texture.
Is Sweet Milk the Same as Condensed Milk?
No, they are different ingredients and you can’t substitute each other in the recipes. Sweet milk is the whole (regular) milk that has usually around 3% of milk fat and goes bad very quickly.
On the other hand, condensed milk is extremely thick, has a big amount of sugar, and can last for years if you don’t open the can.
What Is Sweetened Condensed Milk?
Sweetened condensed milk is the milk that was condensed during the process of removing the water via heat (in other words evaporation) and later it was added a large amount of sugar in it.
The main purpose of adding sugar to condensed milk is to make its shelf life a lot longer.
By adding sugar to the condensed milk, we will prevent the growth of different microorganisms in the milk.
As a result, if the sweetened condensed milk was effectively pasteurized and canned, it can sit for years in your pantry if it is not in direct sunlight.
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Quick Note: Keep in mind that you may also find unsweetened condensed milk which usually is referring to evaporated milk. Even if both of them are condensed, you can’t substitute one for another.
What About Sweet Cream
If you found an old recipe that is calling for sweet cream, most probably this recipe is calling for heavy whipping cream. However, in some recipes, the sweet cream could mean half-and-half.
Difference Between Sweet Milk and Buttermilk
If we are talking about those two ingredients in baking, then we are using sweet milk (whole milk) to moisten the dough.
Also, as the sweet milk contains protein, the dough strengthens and you will get a nicer flavor and texture to your dough.
On another side, if you use buttermilk, the acidic components from it will react with the leavening agents and will get a more fluffy and airy texture to your bake.
Keep in mind what texture you want to give to your bake and decide if you should use the sweet milk or you can replace it with buttermilk.
Answering Your Questions:
Yes, they both have the same ingredients. The name sweet milk was used back in the day to differentiate whole milk from buttermilk. It was called sweet milk because it has a sweeter taste than buttermilk.
If you’re looking for the sweetest milk in its natural way, then you should go with rice milk. It is very low in fat and has a lot of nutrients in it. The rice milk is made from boiled rice, rice starch, and rice syrup.
As you can see, it may be misleading as you may think that the sweet milk is sweetened milk and you should use sweetened condensed milk or other sweetened dairy products. But as you found from this article, back in the days’ sweet milk was called regular whole milk. So, if you will find some old recipes from your grandma where the sweet milk is used – just use the whole milk instead.