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I have an old pancake recipe (circa 1930) that I would like to try. However it includes as an ingredient "sweet milk." Having never seen such a thing in stores I'm trying to find the best substitute for this ingredient.

Given that the "milk" readily available in the 1930s was probably much fresher and full fat (and perhaps unpasteurized), I'm thinking that the best modern substitute would probably be whole milk or perhaps half-and-half. Would this be the correct ingredient substitution to make? And would a 1:1 ratio be acceptable?

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it could also be evaporated milk - comes in cans and is sweetened. – Kate Gregory Apr 8 '14 at 14:19
True. But regular milk has 12g of sugars which seems plenty sweet, especially considering the palate of the times. – Confused Engineer Apr 8 '14 at 14:27
I have seen "sweet cream" used to contrast with "sour cream" and just meaning cream, but not "sweet milk" in that sense. One clue might be the amount - if it just happens to be the amount of evaporated milk in a tin that would strengthen my hunch. – Kate Gregory Apr 8 '14 at 14:36
up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's normal whole milk.

'sweet' was used to distinguish it from buttermilk in older cookbooks.

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My grandmother referred to 'whole milk' as sweet milk. I wonder if it has to do with the fact that when milk was delivered in the mid 20th century, it came in a bottle and had no designated fat content - if you wanted cream, you would 'skim' it off the top of the bottle after it had settled. Now we buy the different parts of milk separately. – David Wilkins Apr 8 '14 at 19:06
Would it be safe to assume, then, that the alternative recipe that calls for "sour milk" is, in fact, a buttermilk pancake recipe? – Confused Engineer Apr 10 '14 at 0:24
@ConfusedEngineer : no, it's milk that's been left a little too long. It's similar to today's buttermilk, but not quite, as it hasn't necessary thickened to the same degree. Back then, 'buttermilk' referred to what was left over after churning butter, which is probably closer to today's skim milk. – Joe Apr 10 '14 at 14:58

when I was small (1950's) , the older folks referred to milk as either buttermilk or sweet milk.... including store-bought milk . People drank a lot more butter milk back then , so if you asked for a glass of milk , people very well might ask you to clarify - "Would you care for sweet milk or butter milk"? Sweet milk is now just called milk .

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I always called condensed milk sweet milk, that's what my granny called sweet milk. Carnation sweetened condensed milk.

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