Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

You’re cleaning up your pantry, and you just found 3 cans of evaporated milk. You hardly remember the last time you used evaporated milk or even bought some. And all three cans are past the date on the label. Does evaporated milk go bad?

Since this variety of milk often comes canned, you might think that it probably should last past the best-by date. And that’s correct, an unopened can of evaporated milk can last a long time.

If you’d like to learn more about storage, shelf life, and going bad of evaporated milk, read on.

Evaporated milk in hand
Evaporated milk in hand

How to Store Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk, or unsweetened condensed milk, usually comes in tin cans. Like most other cans these are shelf stable so you can store unopened ones at room temperature. The tin protects the milk from light, so you just need to make sure the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much.

The pantry is where most people store unopened cans of evaporated milk, but a cupboard in the kitchen works too.

Info

You can also keep the can in the fridge, but the dairy product doesn’t benefit much from it.

Once you open the can, you should refrigerate the leftover liquid.

Since tin cans are pretty much impossible to seal tightly on their own, it’s best to transfer the product to a plastic airtight container.

Of course, you can go with a makeshift seal using plastic or aluminum wrap and a rubber band, but a resealable container is both more convenient and provides a better seal.

Container of evaporated milk and caron in the background
Container of evaporated milk and caron in the background

Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk?

Producers, like Carnation, don’t recommend freezing evaporated milk.

Freezing causes separation after thawing, and the quality of the product isn’t as good as it was before freezing. However, frozen and thawed evaporated milk usually works okay for cooking and baking purposes.

Tip

You can help the evaporated milk’s texture by stirring, whipping, or blending it after thawing.

If you have some leftover evaporated milk that would go to waste, try freezing it and see how it works in your next baked or cooked recipe. Chances are you will be pretty satisfied with the results.

Of course, the outcome won’t be as good as with freshly opened evaporated milk, but it should be okay nonetheless.

Pouring evaporated milk
Pouring evaporated milk

How To Freeze Evaporated Milk

When it comes to the method of freezing evaporated milk, using an ice cube tray is worth trying.

The same method works really well for similar liquids like coconut or almond milk. It allows you to easily thaw as much evaporated milk as needed and the setup and process of freezing are quite convenient too.

Warning

Freezing unopened cans of evaporated milk doesn’t really make sense, as is can compromise the integrity of the seal. Plus an unopened can lasts quite a long time. It’s usually much better to simply keep in in the pantry until you need it.

Leftover evaporated milk ready for storage
Leftover evaporated milk, ready for storage

Want to learn more? Check our article on freezing evaporated milk.

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last

Like other canned products, evaporated milk keeps up for quite some time. Sure, it comes with a best-by (or best if used by) date, but that date only informs you how long, at the very least, the evaporated milk will retain its freshness. And since this dairy product is canned, it will usually last months past that date.

Once you open the can, the evaporated milk only lasts a few days. Some producers, like PET Milk recommend using their product within 2 to 3 days, while others, like Carnation, say it’s good for up to 5 days.

Generally speaking, you should either use all of it or freeze the leftovers within 5 days.

 PantryFridge
Canned evaporated milk (unopened)Best by + 3 – 6 months 
Canned evaporated milk (opened) 3 -5 days

Please note that the periods above are approximate.

Carton of evaporated milk
A carton of evaporated milk

How to Tell If Evaporated Milk has Gone Bad?

The first thing you should know is that film (or “milk skin”) forming on top of evaporated milk is not a sign of spoilage. The film most often forms after opening the can and storing the leftovers in a container that’s not airtight.

Tip

Milk film is a natural consequence of fat separation, and all you need to fix this is to heat the product up a bit and stir or mix it together.

Evaporated milk in a container
Evaporated milk in a container

Spoiled evaporated milk shows the usual signs: changed color, lumps, funny or sour smell, or off taste. Generally, if anything about the liquid seems to be off, discard it.

Same thing if you stored evaporated milk leftovers for more than a week. Yes, even if the dairy product appears to be perfectly fine.

The first signs of going bad are difficult to spot, so it’s better to be safe and get rid of it.