Food Bleg

Sebastian requested some old family recipes for his birthday, and received scanned copies of them from a cousin this weekend. I’m now adding these to my database of recipes, but I need a little help from some of you who might be a bit older and have memories that stretch back a litter farther than my own.

At least two of the recipes call for half a can of evaporated milk, but they include a notation that half can sizes are “now” available. While I love old family recipes, this is one reason I hate old family recipes. I have no idea what can sizes were common when these recipes were written down. They are billed as Sebastian’s grandmother’s recipes, but one of them is cited as “Aunt Florence,” who Sebastian believes was older than his grandmother.

I know I can get evaporated milk in little squat cans like the sweetened condensed milk I have on hand, but when I looked at that can, it says 14 oz. I don’t know if that means the original sizes were 28 oz. or if there are (or were) 7 oz. sizes available. Any help or random kitchen/shopping memories would be helpful at this point.

In the meantime, I’ll have fun guessing the proportions of some of these old recipes that simply have the ingredients listed with no measures whatsoever. It could make for some interesting dining in the future.

10 Responses to “Food Bleg”

  1. flighterdoc says:

    Those 14 oz are the ‘normal’ sized cans, as far as I’m concerned. There are tiny cans you see sometimes too, half (or less) in size.

  2. Dogboy49 says:

    The cans of evaporated milk that I see in stores are marked 12oz, not 14. When I was a boy in the ’50s I remember seeing half cans, don’t remember what size they were, looked a bit like a tuna fish can. Probably 6oz…

    I never saw a 24oz can…..

  3. rimholz says:

    I don’t know what year you are looking for, but look on page 9 of this website. It lists all condensed/evaporated milk can sizes, by dimension starting with the first and listing chronologically.

    R Imholz

  4. Joe Huffman says:

    This is essentially a ditto of Dogboy49…

    From my early memories (the 1960s) I would have guessed 12 oz cans were “normal”. But if you seen 14 oz cans in the store then those are probably what the recipe expects.

  5. A half-can of evaporated milk is less a half peck of Adonis DNA, but slightly more than a half cup of Tiger Blood.

  6. Bitter says:

    If that chart is thorough, then it would appear that the sizes have been somewhat standardized since 1950, which would indicate my assumption was right. (Also verified by the other comments here.)

    I couldn’t imagine a use for a 24 or 28 oz. can of evaporated milk, so I assumed the “standard” size was in the 12-14 oz. range. I just didn’t know for sure since, obviously, I wasn’t around at the time.

    I’ve gone through enough church cookbooks to know that even as products evolve to meet changing customer demand, these types of recipes rarely get updated to reflect those changes. See tuna cans as a great example. Companies keep reducing the size of them rather than raising the price, so a recipe that calls for a can of tuna can mean very different things depending on when it was written.

  7. Miguel says:

    These are cream, but show both sizes.

    You may have to go to an ethnic food place or double the size of the recipe :)

    PS: You cannot go wrong with Nestle

  8. Pat Offenberger says:

    The 5 ounce size would be considered the “half can”, and they have been around since I was a kid. The ones I recall were simply versions of the regular size can that looked like they had been shrunk.

  9. McThag says:

    Pimping a book of my family’s compiled recipes. Complete with grandma’s typos and omissions!