Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk lasts only a couple of days after opening. What if you don’t have any plans for it? Can you freeze evaporated milk?

I bought a container of evaporated milk and used half of it for my soup. I don’t know about you, but I don’t use this milk variety often. Because of that, I had to figure out how to use the leftovers before they spoil.

Freezing was the first solution that came to mind, and that’s what I decided to try out.

Frozen evaporated milk in a container
Frozen evaporated milk in a container

Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk?

Most producers discourage freezing their evaporated milk. Take Carnation for example; here’s what they write on their FAQ page ([CAR]):

It is not recommended to freeze evaporated milk, it changes its physical properties (colour, flavor, texture, etc.). Freezing the can could also compromise the seam integrity of the can which in turn would spoil the milk.

The seam integrity part wasn’t an issue because I didn’t want to freeze it unopened.

Tip

Freeze only leftover evaporated milk. Freezing it unopened isn’t safe, plus the product has quite a long shelf life.

When it comes to the physical changes, it’s all true. I mean, here’s how frozen and thawed evaporated milk looks like:

Thawed evaporated milk: separation
Thawed evaporated milk: you can clearly see separation

You can see it’s separated and doesn’t look all that appealing (to say the least).

If you give it a good stir (or use a blender), it helps a bit, but it still isn’t as good as the fresh product. Here’s how it looks after that treatment:

Thawed evaporated milk stirred
Thawed evaporated milk after stirring

Fortunately, in most cooked dishes, those changes in texture don’t really matter.

Tip

The secret to freezing evaporated milk is using it only in recipes where it’s cooked, like soups (especially the creamy ones you puree using a blender), stews, and so on.

How To Freeze Evaporated Milk

The whole process of freezing this dairy product is simple and takes only a couple of minutes tops.

For starters, decide on a recipe that you’ll use the frozen and defrosted evaporated milk in. That choice informs you how much you need to pour into each container.

Tip

If you don’t know how you’re going to use the product yet, freeze it using an ice cube tray instead.

Evaporated milk and its carton
Evaporated milk and its carton

Once you know that, it’s time to get started. Here’s how you freeze this milk variety:

  1. Pour the evaporated milk into freezer-safe containers. Each one should contain exactly how much you need for a single dish. Remember to leave some headspace because the liquid expands when frozen.
  2. Seal the containers. Consider adding labels, especially if the portions aren’t equal. This way, finding the right one for the recipe you’re cooking will be a breeze.
  3. Put everything in the freezer.

That’s it. Evaporated milk can sit there safely for at least a couple of months, waiting for when you need it.

Frozen evaporated milk
Frozen evaporated milk

Thawing Frozen Evaporated Milk

When it comes to defrosting this dairy product, there are at least two popular options:

  • Overnight in the fridge. Put the container in the refrigerator in the evening to get it ready to use in the morning. The only downside is that it requires some planning ahead.
  • Skip thawing. Since you’re going to use the frozen evaporated milk in a cooked recipe, you can skip defrosting in many cases. Put the frozen block into the pot while cooking and let the temperature do its magic.
Pouring thawed evaporated milk
Pouring thawed evaporated milk into my soup
Tip

For best results, stir the defrosted evaporated milk thoroughly (e.g., using a hand blender). You can either mix the liquid itself or the whole dish if you’re throwing it in frozen.

Some people let frozen foods thaw on the counter (I’m guilty of that as well). If you’re one of them, remember that food shouldn’t sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, and you should cook it as soon as possible.

Creamy carrot soup
Creamy carrot soup, used thawed evaporated milk and it worked just fine

Uses for Frozen & Thawed Evaporated Milk

As I already mentioned, defrosted evaporated milk works well in all sorts of cooked dishes.

I like creamy soups and made a creamy carrot soup using the recipe you can find on Carnation’s website. I used dried ginger instead of fresh (and a bit too much of it), but other than that, the soup turned out great.

Tip

If you have any soups in your repertoire that you puree in a blender, all of them should be great options to use frozen evaporated milk in.

Not a fan of soups? Feel free to use the milk in:

  • Stews
  • Baked goods (muffins, pies, etc.)
  • Main dishes that include cooked sauces (pasta, etc.)

Sources