Table cream and condensed milk are two ever present in a dairy section at any department store. And you will find different recipes where one is used as a substitute for the other. But does that mean they are similar products? If not, then how are table cream and condensed milk different?
Table cream is a type of cream that contains 18 to 30% fat whereas condensed milk contains about 9% fat. You get cream by separating the higher fat layer from milk. In contrast, you get condensed milk by evaporating 60% of the water within it.
Due to the differences in production, table cream and condensed milk have different compositions. As such, they have different nutritional values, uses, and properties. And these are aspects we are going to be focusing on today.
Table Cream vs. Condensed Milk: Differences
First, I’ll give you a cheat sheet, and then I will explain these differences in detail.
|Feature||Table Cream||Condensed Milk|
|Preparation||Separating the fat from skim milk.||Evaporating the water in milk with heat|
|Use||In both desserts and savory dishes||Mostly in desserts, tea, and coffee.|
Depending on the amount of fat present, cream can have various names. Table cream or light cream is one type of cream that has a fat content of 18 to 30%. This means that for every 100 grams of light cream, you will get 18 to 30 grams of total fat. This is significantly less than whipping cream or heavy cream. Hence, people refer to it as light cream.
Condensed milk, on the other hand, has less to do with fat content and more to do it its water level. As the name suggests, condensed milk is concentrated milk where almost 60% of water from the original liquid has been reduced. This gives condensed milk a thick and creamy consistency without it falling into the category of actual cream.
Due to the reduction process, table cream contains a lot more water compared to condensed milk. Condensed milk is also higher in carbohydrates and protein but has significantly less fat.
So, this is the basic difference between table cream and condensed milk. Table cream focuses on the cream in milk, whereas condensed milk is a concentrated milk product.
Another noticeable difference is that condensed milk is almost always sweetened artificially with sugar. This is so common, in fact, that people use the terms “condensed milk” and “sweetened condensed milk” interchangeably.
Most varieties of cream, in comparison, do not have added sugar. And this includes table cream, which is very low in carbohydrates altogether.
Cream is the layer of fat that floats on top of unhomogenized milk. In unhomogenized milk, because the fat particles are large and do not mix with the water, they tend to separate. And since this fat is lighter than the rest of the liquid, it floats up to the top. In modern industries, manufacturers accelerate this process with the help of machines that use centrifuge.
Then the manufacturer simply collects this cream and uses it to make other products or modifies it to make various types of cream. Of course, there are other methods for making cream around the world, some dating back to ancient times. But the basic idea behind all of these processes remains the same – separate the fat from milk before it becomes homogenized.
Condensed milk, in contrast, requires homogenized milk. And instead of using centrifugal force to make the product, this process requires heat and time.
First, raw milk is clarified and homogenized. Alternatively, many manufacturers do this with powdered milk. Then they heat the milk to 85 to 90 °C. This kills microorganisms in the liquid, makes the fat more stable, and evaporates the water. This heat is kept on for several seconds.
Finally, sugar, and sometimes melted butter, are added to the milk and mixed. This liquid is then poured into cans and sealed. The sugar helps to extend the shelf-life of the milk. This is why condensed milk can last for such a long time.
When it comes to condensed milk, there are mainly two variations – those with sugar and those without it. The condensed milk that most people are familiar with is the one with added sugar. The products without sugar have a different name – evaporated milk.
Table cream can vary in terms of its fat content. Different manufacturers will make their table cream slightly differently. As such, the fat content, as well as the calorie value of the product, will change from product to product. For example, heavy cream will have more fat than table cream. And even though they are very similar products, heavy cream can’t be called table cream due to fat content.
Before we discuss their effects on health, we need to look at their nutritional composition first. The following comparison is between 100 grams servings of table cream and sweetened condensed milk each.  
|Nutrition||Table Cream||Condensed Milk (sweetened)|
|Total carbohydrates||3.66 g||54.4 g|
|– Added sugar||0||54.4 g|
|Total fat||19 g||8.7 g|
|– Saturated fat||10 g||5.5 g|
|– Unsaturated fat||9 g||3.2 g|
|Protein||3 g||7.91 g|
|Calcium||91 mg||284 mg|
|Iron||0.05 mg||0.19 mg|
|Cholesterol||59 mg||34 mg|
As you can see, condensed milk has almost double the number of calories. It is also incredibly high in carbohydrates, all of which is table sugar. This makes condensed milk less than ideal for weight loss and low-calorie diets.
Conversely, condensed milk is a much better source of both protein and calcium. It is also lower in cholesterol.
Taste and Texture
Table cream has a creamy texture but a relatively mild taste. It has a much creamier taste compared to condensed milk as it has more fat. Condensed milk, particularly the sweetened kind, is noticeably sweeter. Most of the flavor of condensed milk comes from that sugar.
Table cream is used in coffee and other drinks to give them a rich and creamy feel. They are also the cream of choice for drizzling on top of cakes or fruit custard. They can also go in sauces and dressings.
Condensed milk is used commercially for making various candies and sweets. In parts of Asia, people use condensed milk to flavor their tea and coffee more than any other dairy product. Condensed milk is also used in various dessert recipes where you want a more prominent milky flavor.
Table Cream vs. Condensed Milk: Which Is Better?
Condensed milk is drastically higher in both calories and added sugar. So, for people who are looking to lose weight or restrict their blood sugar level, table cream is the better choice for coffees and cakes.
You also cannot use condensed milk in savory dishes due to its sweetness. But you can use table cream for making things like butter chicken and cream sauce.
But with condensed milk, you do not need to add any sugar to a dessert recipe. Also, condensed milk lasts for a long time.
Can You Replace Table Cream with Condensed Milk?
You can replace table cream with condensed milk only if the dish is supposed to be sweet. Condensed milk will bring that rich, creaminess like table cream. But if you are making a savory dish, you should not replace table cream with it.
Can You Replace Condensed Milk with Table Cream?
You have much more flexibility when it comes to replacing condensed milk with table cream. Since table cream is unsweetened, you can freely adjust the sweetness of your dish. You can replace the condensed milk with table cream in a 1-to-1 ratio.
How Can You Substitute Condensed Milk?
The best substitute for condensed milk is evaporated milk. Simply, add ¾ cup of sugar with 12 ounces of evaporated milk and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the mixture until you get a thick and glossy liquid.
Alternatively, you can use thick coconut cream as a 1-to-1 substitute for condensed milk. Mixing one cup of heavy cream with ¼ cup of sugar is another viable substitute.
Is Nestle Media Crema Condensed Milk?
Nestle Media Crema is not condensed milk. Rather it is Nestle’s version of table cream, as it contains 26.7% fat. 
To conclude, both table cream and condensed milk provide any dish with a rich, creamy flavor and texture. Just be mindful of how the two products differ from each other and use them accordingly.