What Kind of Canned Milk???

Are you guys jiving me? Pulling my leg? I am determined to do as good an evaporated/condensed milk version of leche flan as possible and all your comments seemed to be pointing to the brands of milk as the key to canned leche flan nirvana. It’s only now that I have learned there is a difference between filled and full cream milk, the filled having added coconut, palm or other oils, but both having added vitamins, minerals, lecithin and carageenan. Both are more “concentrated” or less “reconstituted” than the equivalent fresh milk. Both have probably been dehydrated at some point for easy transport, then mixed with water to bring it back to a form we would recognize… In my first batch of experiments, I used both Alaska brand evaporated and condensed milk… And I was made to believe that Carnation filled milk wasn’t a good alternative either. Another brand on the market “Angel” looks like the scariest choice of all.

I could hear the tsk! tsks! and the silent wagging of tongues, like I had made a major faux pas. So I am definitely determined to try the specified brands you all prefer, if only to bury the lingering belief that one canned milk brand is the key to success. But, alas, that is NOT SO EASY! After visiting five different groceries this afternoon, we only managed to find Alpine evaporated milk, no Alpine condensed milk and no Milkmaid brand dairy products at all! I thought these were supposed to be commonly available? I found more good fresh and UHT milk and cream in the five groceries than the desired canned milk brands… So please, correct me if I am wrong… I am searching for Alpine condensed milk, and/or Milkmaid evaporated and condensed milk? Is that right? I will try some other groceries over the weekend, and the leche flan chronicles can continue. Thanks for your help…


57 Responses

  1. All the filled and full cream canned milk have emulsifiers, preservatives and other additives you couldn’t pronounce which help it to stay consistent. Some of them aren’t even on the label, not to mention the fact that the can could be coated inside with plastic that could migrate into the fat content of the milk. Fresh milk’s cream rises to the top and can actually be spooned out of the bottle. Organic is occasionally available.In the interest of reducing unecessary chemicals in your diet wouldn’t it make sense to try and use unadulterated products whenever available?

  2. sister, you are absolutely correct and I agree with that point of view. But I figure if I make the best possible canned milk version and put it side by side with a fresh cream version, maybe then the issue of fresh vs. canned will be much clearer… I realize many folks are used to the canned version, but I wouldn’t list it as best practice. And in an ironic twist, I had more trouble finding the right cans than I did finding decent milk and good cream…

  3. Milkmaid is kinda hard to find nowadays. I tried too. I will look for that too tomorrow. The saga continues…..and we look forward to the results….

  4. Alpine is only available as evaporated milk and Milkmaid is only available as condensed milk. I just saw both of these brands at South Supermarket today.

  5. MM, a friend told me over the holidays that Alpine and Milkmaid will be discontinued (hence the scarcity of stocks). The reason she mentioned it is that these are the key ingredients of her leche flan and she was bemoaning their loss as it would mean having to reformulate her recipe. Apparently, the results using these brands are so noteworthy that the use of other brands guarantee (her) inadequate results. So canned-milk-loving-leche-flan-makers out there, start storming the manufacturers of these brands with feedback that they should reconsider the move to discontinue production lest the leche flan you’ve known and loved disappear forever.

  6. alpine only comes in evaporated form. i use it and its kinda expensive than other brands but it proves to be the best. milkmaid only comes in condensed form and its also good

  7. Marketman, I’m waiting to hear what you consider the best canned milk version of Leche Flan. I absolutely understand that de lata is what is most available across the islands and that leche flan is an iconic offering on the dessert menu. One has to go way back before de lata and remember that leche flan was probably made originally with fresh milk in Europe before the dish migrating to the colonies where carabao milk substituted for cow’s milk. So just maybe we have come full cycle? Or are some folks still paddling along side the galleon? It’s amazing to see what controvery a little dessert can stir up.
    I tried the recipe I gave you again last night in 3 inch ramekins and it took only 25-30 min. to cook in a baine marie, starting with tepid water, in a 325 F oven. Didn’t even cover the ramekins and they came out just fine. Will deliver to an elderly neighbor who is on a high protein, high calorie, low residue diet, about the only person who should be eating leche flan.
    Okay, back to my pan de sal trials.

  8. Most people claiming this brand is better than that brand of evaporated or condensed milk are biased by nostalgia. Their brand has to be better because a loved relative used such brand for their recipe. I doubt if any would be able to discern any superior quality of their brand against other brands in a blind taste test. I suggest that you may be fighting with windmills if you try to make test batches with several brands. Whatever result obtained will probably not be accepted. You can’t compete with the power of nostalgia.

  9. i’ve been making leche flan since i was single and went through a phase of experimenting with different kinds of milk, sugars, flavorings, cooking methods etc. my observation is that the milk:sugar:eggyolk ratio plays a big role in the final outcome of the flan. if the milk is thinner, use more eggyolks to achieve a denser consistency and adjust the sugar content as well. here is what i do, separate yolks from the whites in a bowl. in another bowl mix both milk until incorporated.add small amount (1/4 cup)of sugar at this point if you want a sweeter flan. add flavoring to milk mix. add egg yolks (a couple at a time) to milk mixture,(not milk mixture to the yolks) and mix gently. do not allow yolks to curdle. always in that order. pass the mixture gently through a fine sieve(a cup at a time)do not force the bits of yolks through the sieve. continue to stir the egg/milk mixture while filtering into the llanera. i line the llanera with the butter flavored pancake syrup before pouring in the egg/milk mixture. tightly cover the llanera with foil before gentle steaming about 35-40 mins. i found that 8:1:1(egg yolk:condensed milk:evap)works very well. for flavor, orange liqueur, pandan, vanilla, almond are my favorites. i use fat free evap milk.

  10. MM, I can sense your confusion. I believe in you. You can do it! :)

    Milkmaid only comes in the condensed form.

    My aunt made leche flan last December using the Angel brand just because all the other canned milk were out of stock. If I recall correctly, it wasn’t as sweet as the other ones she has made previously.

  11. hi Marketman! I saw milkmaid condensed milk in snr, macapagal branch. Im not sure if they have it also in other branches of snr. Your leche flan looks yummy!!!! Will wait for your winning recipe :-)

  12. …let’s say, coconut milk with all these added stuff that is so hard to pronounce and one can with just pure coconut cream with or without water…I can taste the difference…cream, I can tell where i am just by looking at it which is Foremost brand and Dairyland when i see it being poured based on its viscosity.

    Therefore, is someone were to ask me how come their mousse did not set properly, I can then suggest what brand of heavy cream to use. It’s too bad, I don’t think filled evaporated milk is available here…or maybe it is but since I hardly ever use evaporated milk,I wouldn’t know where to get it. On second thought, I will keep my eyes open for it and then do my own little ramekin tests. I know what the milk/cream leche flan will yield as to to taste and texture for that is what I have been doing for ages!

  13. betty Q; filled milk is banned by the FDA in the US, but im not sure if it is in CANADA. But no use crying over filled milk,,,it’s not worth it, hahaha

  14. Betttq: I use evaporated milk in making caramel apples, chocolate fudge icing and chocolate fudge in addition to heavy cream. If no evap milk added in these goodies the caramel comes down with gravity at room temperature looking like a wrinkled face. With evap milk added the caramel stays still like a beauty queen in a float out in the sun. Evap milk is a good binder.

  15. Assuming that the evaporated milk does not contain any emulsifiers, the fat content is 14%? , then if people use equal amounts of water in their recipe, then it brings it down to 7% (creaminess). Now milk contains 3% to 4 % M.F. If I make leche flan using both cream (cream having as much as 33% M.F.)and milk, it brings the M.F. content….somehwere maybe close tyo 20%. This is just a theory. I could be wrong and I stand corrected. But if people use STRAIGHT evaporated milk (14% or so M.F. ), then indeed it is thicker, creamier producing a leche flan that can withstand the heavy caramel.

    That is why when I make leche flan using cream/milk, I only coat the bottom of the ramekin, not much and then tilting to remove excess. When I unmmould it so far, it stays up.

    I know what icing you are talking about the chocolate fudge with evaporated milk and condensed milk. That is also what I grew up making!

  16. But when was fresh milk ever inaccessible? Even years ago Magnolia was reliably available in grocery stores. Remember the glass bottle with a cardboard ‘seal’ (that also came in their chocomilk variant, chocolait)? And in the provinces, people must be just a few hundred meters away from a live carabao at any given moment, hehe

  17. Bettyq: I use heavy cream in my leche flan too. Never use canned milk in my leche flan be it condensed or evap milk. What I am telling you evap milk still has a place in my kitchen for some other goodies too. My sincere apology for anything that I have caused you.

  18. ms betty q: carnation evap partly skimmed milk has 2% mf and carnation evap skim milk (fat free) are available in canadian groceries. i use these in my flans and i get very good results. may i suggest these in your experiments?

  19. Okay, I am getting this now. Only Alpine EVAPORATED MILK, got me 5 cans of that. Now I just have to look for Milkmaid condensada. As for fat content, as Betty has pointed out, I usually go for about 20-25% fat content in a cream/milk mixture, hence the pure cream from Australia and whole milk in the ingredients lists in previous posts. I suppose for fresh milk, upping the egg yolks is the solution to the lower fat content. chrisb, I am with you, there IS fresh milk available, I think the canned move is one of those 1950’s convenience things, like canned fruit salad. Next week, a friend has already lined up 3-4 liters of fresh from the carabao’s teats milk so we can attempt carabao milk leche flans. mary grace, pancake syrup? that’s an unusual move, albeit it is still caramel sugar… APM, I do agree with you, but it’s still worth chasing the standard if only to try as many options as reasonably possible before deciding on one or two recipes. And again, I suspect folks who are blindfolded would have difficulty identifying particular brands when cooked. Sister, I am on my fourth pan de sal trial, it wasn’t bad, and it was a simple recipe, but a bit chewy. That’s another saga unfolding…heeheehee. chipsandtrips, OH NO, you will give 50% of marketmanila’s readers minor heart palpitations by saying those brands will be pulled shortly! Maricel, thank you, I need to hit Cash & Carry then… or Unimart if South Supermarket had them in stock.

  20. The best tasting leche flan I’ve ever tried was that made from egg whites. My sister-in-law who never threw anything away would always make this for my mom who was watching her cholesterol. It was surprisingly so much smoother in texture and richer in flavor that I thought it was the one made from egg yolks.

  21. MM, your blog has been a source of silent enjoyment for me for more than a year now though this is my first comment. Thank you. I am not much of a cook but am serendipitously (whew!) sharing in the fun of experimentation … My two cents worth on milk, eggs and cooking.

    Filled milk is made with a vegetable oil blend recombined with dried milk powder. This oil blend is designed to mimic at lower cost the creaminess of milkfat which virtue comes mainly in that God designed it to melt at around normal body temperature of 37C (maybe to keep as baby food even during winter). Before UHT, recombining milk from powder in cans was the second best way to provide nutrition from milk to areas like the Philippines with lower access to refrigeration and not enough carabaos. Unfortunately, drying to milk powder sometimes adds a burnt taste; an Aussie-Fil friend claims to taste coconut in local filled milk. Fresh carabao milk has more fat than cow’s hence mas langtud so you may have to use less (I think it also has different melting profile hence carabao’s milk is weird as coffee creamer.) UHT (fresh) milk is standardized to have a fat level of 3.25%. Cream is much higher fat; recipe may need to adjust with water. Condensed milk has sugar added; the browner custard you got when using condensed milk may be the result of the sugar (sucrose) cooking in the presence of milk proteins and not added chemicals; lactose, the milk sugar, does not brown. Condensed milk may have a stabilizer to keep the sugar dispersed (not just by homogenization); I hope it is not the extended benefit of this stabilizer in the leche flan that makes condensed milk the all-time favored ingredient. In theory, you can compensate by adding sugar to the fresh milk alternative.

    I suspect there is a balanced level of fat that goes with proteins and emulsifier provided by the egg components to make excellent flan.

    Yolk is mainly fat (again creaminess) and lecithin, a natural emulsifier needed in the recipe to get oil and water to mix (that’s why you get better tsokolate when yolk added for churroz mate). Egg white is largely protein which provides foaming (and bubbles when whisked), structure and volume. I suspect there is just a minimum quantity of egg white needed to provide body and volume to match the level of fat otherwise you will get a flat, gooey mess. Bubbles can be a function of egg white level and mixing method (whisk fast or spatula slow). For home experiments, rather than start with a branded canned milk (which may not be similar across brands), it may be easier to start with UHT fresh (any brand made where legal requirements are followed as to milkfat level), and (separately) egg yolk and egg white.

    (PS. Nestle brands may indeed be spotty in the market; Nestle has outsourced manufacturing and distribution of their consumer milk brands. Angel Evaporada has sugar added – for uniquely Filipino use like halo-halo or barako creamer – so one must add more and reduce sugar to have same result.)

    Cooking in steamer or with bain marie (double boiler) may be modified by time and/or two heat settings, short high and long low. With a steamer, it is difficult to control actual heat as no temp knob hence too much caramel browning – the surface caramel cooks again. Those who prefer steamer may have mastered time/setting by trial and error. In the double boiler, I suspect having the product sit on the water moderates the actual surface and core temperatures well below the 310 F (154C) oven setting and slows, makes consistent the heat transfer (like a stone hearth does for pizza).

    My two cents worth and am not even talking about delicious?!

  22. Alpine and Milkmaid used to be made by Nestle, but was sold to Alaska a couple of years ago. Both are relatively hard to find due to the fact that demand for both is quite low since they’re much more expensive than filled milk.

    Economic realities in a third world country have forced companies to shift to much cheaper ingredients. Just look at our ice cream, whipping cream, and cheese. Most of the locally produced stuff has shifted to vegetable oil as their fat of choice, and product quality has suffered as a result.

  23. Hello MM,
    I need help with the caramel. I made leche flan a few years ago and was successful with the caramel. However, I tried making it last week and the caramel did not turn out at all. The recipe I followed used 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup water, stir until melted. I’ve tried twice and had to throw it away. How do you make your caramel?

  24. patanj, would your sis-n-law kindly share her egg white leche flan recipe here? that would be much appreciated :)
    and Paris444, ako rin palpak palagi ang caramel hehe!

  25. I get my Milkmaid & Alpine fron Unimart in Greenhills.

    I hoard them 1st week of December because they always run out of it days before Christmas.

    Sometimes, there is Milkmaid & Alpine in Makro Cubao.

    I becamee a loyal fan of Milkmaid when I found out that a leading chinese quick serve resto famous for its halo-halo uses only Alpine condensed milk combined with Carnation evap.

    For my fruit salad, I use only Milkmaid & Alpine evap with egg yolks for the dressing plus Nestle cream.

  26. Ms. Paris4444 and Jing: Caramel…if you use 1 cup sugar water is 1/2 cup. Let it boil At the beginnning, you can use a wet brush and make “pahid” along the sides so no sugar crystals. BUT once it starts to bubble like hard bubble, leave it alone. It will crystalize if you stir it. So, as it starts to bubble, it will turn to light brown then amber. I usually take it off the heat as it turns to golden brown and pour in the mould right away.

  27. Hello everyone, i’m a first time commenter but a long time reader..Just cant resist contributing a comment regarding leche flan, i think this is one of the must have dessert in every occasion here in the Philippines. Have tried several versions too, but i stick to using the eggyolks only. Will still have to try using the fresh milk and cream though. For the caramel syrup, I put 3 to 4 tbsps white sugar in the llanera, (measurement of sugar depends on the size of the llanera) i usually use the oblong ones. Put the llanera directly over the flame, tilting often to coat the whole bottom of the llanera until sugar dissolves and turn to caramel. Be sure to use pot holder and tong coz the llanera will be very hot.

  28. By the way, MM I have tried making your langka turnover before and it turned out great. A quite late thanks to you hehehe…Many thanks to Ms. bettyq also, I usually look for her comments to pick some tips and recipes from her, like the ube puto :)

  29. Hi everyone… SUCCESS! I found milkmaid in a small grocery in Tagaytay! Now I have all the necessary brands, will have to make leche flan again soon…

  30. Paris4444, too much water is one problem. Actually, you can make the caramel by just using the sugar over heat, but it has a tendency to burn faster. The other problem may be the wrong pan. You cannot make caramel in a non-stick pot I think. Best in a stainless or lined copper pot. And sometimes the sugar solidifies again, I know that sounds weird, but it does happen. Try 1 cup sugar and say 1/4 cup water and over medium flame. DO NOT STIR. Just let it be. Once the sugar starts to color, gently swirl the pan around to even out the heat or cooking sugar. Pull off the flame when it is a medium caramel color, it will continue to cook off the flame.

  31. bemarvin, thanks for that useful comment. And yes, the fat content of the milk/cream is key. I like to be in the 20-25% fat content range…

  32. MM,found Milkmaid,Alpine at South Supermarket.No Carnation available. Saw the Angel brand too.Bemarvin,your comments made me scrutinize the can labels. You’re right,Alpine,Milkmaid and Alaska are all from Alaska Milk Corporation.
    It is good to note that price may be a factor why less use Milkmaid Full cream condensed milk (P50.50) and Alpine Full Cream Milk (P43.).Alaska evaporated filled milk (P31.) All this at South Supermarket.Other condensed milks are P30 plus only.
    I now will take a look at labels closer. Great to be part of this group,so many educational things which you learn from people who studied this. This makes me so happy!! Fun in cooking/baking and educational too. Learnings from so many professors. How can we go wrong??!!!!

  33. Carnation is the brand which used to be owned Nestle…not anymore, as far as I’ve heard.

    heard there’s a big dairy farm in Lipa, Batangas which supplies fresh milk to all Starbucks branches…any chance we can get milk from there?

    just be careful about high protein content in the milk (if from China)…might be melamine..uh oh

  34. I really have no contribution to the brand debate/recommendations on milk, but since we’re talking about being cautious about milk consumption, I might as well share an experience.

    It’s kinda gross so consider this a fair warning – stop reading if you’ve a delicate constitution.

    Once, when I needed milk badly for a recipe, I just ran over to the nearest store, and they only had the “scary” brands. When I opened them, they were all pink! Pink milk! And no, I didn’t buy strawberry milk. So scared, I decided to just throw the lot, and buy Cowhead. Problem solved.

    Then, a couple of weeks after, I saw this documentary (can’t remember from where), and it focused on the milk industry and how cows are being abused to increase milk production. Milk producers use the commercial suction devices to boost efficiency, but some of them never take off the suckers, to literally milk the cows for all their worth, to the point that the milk already contains blood (hence the color pink). Poor cows. :( But that does not deter manufacturers. They add chemicals to neutralize blood flavor and color; they only stop when the milk turns yellow-brown – that’s when the udders actually have puss.

  35. MarketFan:Though I am thousands of miles away, I heard that, too. It seems you can buy the milk at the store (not sure if it is the Starbuck’s store.)…for 395PHP for 4 litres. Also Elle and Vire milk brand sold in 1 litre plastic jugs at Rustan’s and Landmark. A friend of mine uses the Gatas ng Kalabaw brand from Market!Market and Tiendesitas ….one of the stalls.

  36. Hi Jing….Here’s my sister-in-law’s recipe for her yolkless leche flan:
    12 large eggs ( whites only)
    1 whole can carnation condensed milk
    1 whole can carnation evaporated milk
    grated dayap rind or 1 tsp vanilla extract
    Mix thoroughly with a wire whisk then pass through a fine sieve. Pour into a large llanera with slightly burnt caramel. Bake in baine marie at low temp to avoid boiling.

  37. Thanks a lot, Patanj! Will definitely try this soon.

    Made MM’s de-lata leche flan with Milkmaid and Alpine plus 3/4 cups eggyolk (used 10 eggyolks) and it turned out quite well, masarap na SANA hehe! Except for the caramel huhuhu! Tried to follow betty q and MM’s caramel tips but the sugar crystallized pa rin. Thanks for tJust can’t keep my hands still. he tips, guys! You’re wonderful! Fault is definitely mine. I didn’t stir it nga but I swirled and swirled it naman hahaha! Next time…next time…


  38. Hi MM!

    whew, its been too long, since my last comment. Just had some issues that needed to be dealt with but its OK now. For leche flan, I just got a very good tip from ms. connie of Pinoyfoodtalk regarding the steaming of leche flan. NEVER, but NEVER allow the water to reach boiling point.

    So what I do is put the leche flan in a steamer that is barely-simmering, almost-mamamatay-na-ung apoy-sa-kalan. Even including the eggwhites in the mixture results in a creamy flan.

  39. Jing, when i make my caramel, i use one half cup of white sugar per llanera and no water at all, and i do stir the sugar constantly with a wooden spoon in order for it not to burn, since depending on the pan you are using it could be warmer on one side and colder on another. The sugar will crystalize first like white clumps and then it will start to liquefy, just continue stirring, and also do this on medium to low heat only. Once the sugar liquefies, it would turn from honey brown to dark brown to burning brown very easily, so it is up to you how you want it. And always transfer it to a warm llanera or you will not get be able to coat the llanera since it will start to solidify very quickly.

    Actually, you don’t need to use a pan to do this, the llanera is good enough vessel to make the caramel, unless you are planning on making more than 1 llanera of leche flan (1/2 cup to a llanera). I also coat a third of the sides of the llanera to make it easier to remove upside down, when it’s cooked and cold.

  40. Also another tip, when making caramel out of white sugar, make sure that you use sugar from sugar cane and not from beets,,,,very very important, don’t ever buy white sugar made from beets, they are awful for making caramels. If you are in the U.S. always get the C&H sugar, nothing else.

  41. thanks ted! with all the tips from you good guys out there, my caramel saga will definitely have a happy ending na soon (if i don’t bungle it this time hahaha!!!)

  42. Hi MM! I’m working closely with the company that manufactures the Angel milk products. Although Angel is the “new kid” on the block, allow me to assure you that ANGEL is a high quality brand backed by certified quantitative tests proving that Angel’s taste and performance are at par, if not better than the other brands.

    Unknown to many, Angel is made by a reputable food company with many number 1 brands. I assure you, it’s a good product ☺

    Hope you can try Angel milk and Good Luck on your leche flan experiment!

  43. Bev, thanks for your input. Actually, I think the issue is more filled vs. not filled milk, sugar content and other additives. The preferences stated above are of readers, not my own as I rarely use evaporated or condensed milk.

  44. for your info, Liberty condensada (do you even remember this brand?) and Carnation condensed milk is the same. . . my cousin who works for nestle told me that they just have different logo/ packaging, I think you can still see liberty brand in provinces. . . nestle retained the brand because it is kind of a trusted brand specially in the provinces, but it is the same milk inside. . .

  45. bev, i tried making dulce de leche using carnation and angel condensada. placed them together in the caserola and boiled them for three hours. the angel condensada has some sugary fluid (its the caramel that separated yata) on top of the dulce and was of thinner consistency than that of carnation. carnation dulce tends to hold its shape better than angel which seeps into the piecrust once spread on it. so i am partial to using carnation. however, mas mura angel by a few centavos…

  46. Marketman,

    Milkmaid, ,Carnation, Liberty, and Alpine are manufactured by Alaska Milk Corporation in San Pedro, Laguna under a license agreement(first three mentioned) and the last two products (Liberty and Alpine)were are the brands bought by Alaska from Nestle in 2007. The nearest retail store to the plant is Puregold-San Pedro, and they usually have well stocked shelves of Alaska products.

    For my leche flan, I use eight egg yolks and one can of condensada(I use Alaska or Liberty) , and I use the eggwhites for making angel food cake. I like the results.

  47. hi i’m a newbie and couldn’t help but add some comments.

    my grandmother always used milkmaid (they used to call it senorita)for her leche flan. and i guarantee you, it’s always described as “melt in the mouth”. of course, i’m sure the proportion of the milk and eggs has something to do with it, as well as the method of cooking, i.e., baine marie or steamed.

    as for the amount of sugar for the caramel, it always depended on what size of llanera you are using. i’d say it’s around half a cup of sugar and a couple of tablespoons water, just so that the sugar doesn’t burn easily. then of course, you have to set the fire to it’s lowest. it’s best to use tongs so you can swirl the caramel once it starts melting. and for her finale, she adds a tablespoon of butter on top of the caramel.

    yummy…just writing about it makes me crave for some. i think i’m going out to buy me some ingredients…

  48. After I read your comments (my first time on your site and I love it!), I went out to check if my neighborhood grocery store had Milkmaid and Alpine. To my surprise, they did! Parco at Times St. QC :D Thanks for all the help!

  49. my lola’s leche flan is uses only alpine and milkmaid — no eggwhites and using the muslin cloth



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