I'll Tell Ya This For Free: Always Get A Can of Condensed Milk When You Buy A Can of Evaporated Milk and Vice Versa
From Samarkand to Santa Ana, when men of action and men of sense get together, their talk always turns to Danny Lavery: “Lavery sees it all. Lavery cuts through the treacle. Lavery delivers. Whereof he knows not, he is silent, but the whereof he knows not could only fill a thimble.” Then they hoist their tankards and pound their feet and make such a general clamor, “Tell us another one, if you please! What else ya got back there?” that I receive no peace until I unleash another Lavery original. See to it that Lavery is written on the label, and accept no substitutes.
The problem: You only need a can of sweetened condensed milk (or a can of evaporated milk) a few times a year for specialty recipes, and the length of time between needfulnesses makes it such that you can never remember the difference between them or even which one you need, and the labels aren’t much help in the way of context clues.
The solution: Whenever a recipe calls for a can of condensed milk, buy a can of evaporated milk along with it (and vice versa), so that no matter what you’re cooking, you’ve got one of each. They’re always right next to each other in the same aisle, no matter which grocery store you go to, so it’s no extra trouble. They both last forever, and the difference is pretty clear once you open the can (the condensed stuff having the consistency of wallpaper-paste and the evaporated stuff having the consistency of light cream), so the only real problem is the risk of coming home with the wrong one and not the other, which I have just handily eliminated at no additional cost to you, the thrifty consumer. No more tearing your hair out in the parking lot upon realizing you’ve evaporated what you ought to have condensed (or vice versa); you can merely laugh lightly if you select the wrong can and set it aside for cheese sauce (if evaporated) or dessert topping (if condensed).
Best of all, think of the time you’ll save now that you no longer have to worry about remembering the difference between the two! No more ‘handy’ mnemonics like “If it’s slowly dispensed, that milk’s condensed! If it flows unabated, then that’s evaporated” to clutter up your memory palace. What’s the difference between condensed and evaporated milk? Buddy, that’s for God in his heaven to worry about! You don’t know, and you don’t need to know – you just open the nearest can and check for viscosity. Like Noah in his ark, you’ve got more than one of everything, and ready to whip up a key lime pie or a chowder on a moment’s notice and with the slightest of swivels. Whatever the difference between them is doesn’t matter (and impossible to remember anyways) because you’ve got them both. You need either “the first one” or “the other one, then,” and that’s all you’ve ever got to worry your pretty little head about again.
Also, with the condensed milk (the thick one) — try two spoonfuls of it over some crushed-up saltines and a little tropical fruit (mango, passionfruit if you can get it, pineapple). And all of this is yours for free, to do with as you like, with no additional tax burden or even standard costs of shipping and handling. Lavery delivers.