Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

Does evaporated milk go bad? Evaporated milk, also known as unsweetened condensed milk, is a type of processed canned milk with 60% of the removed from the fresh milk. The way the evaporated milk has been processed (water extraction, homogenization, canning, and heat-sterilization) extends its shelf life. Its fat and sugar content are also factors that affect the milk’s shelf life. The milk has been exposed to high temperature to kill all pathogens. This process lends a slightly caramelized flavor to the milk. This is also the reason why evaporated milk is pale yellow in color.

Generally, evaporated milk has a longer shelf life. It will keep for months, even years, in storage. But just like all dairy products, evaporated milk won’t keep forever. It will go bad at some point. Evaporated milk is best used for cooking and baking as opposed to drinking. This dairy product is best kept in the pantry if unopened and then chilled in the fridge if opened. To extend its shelf life, even more, you can also freeze the evaporated milk.

Image used under Creative Commons from fdecomite

How to Store Evaporated Milk?

Storing Canned Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is often sold in tin cans. If left unopened, you can store tins of evaporated milk in the pantry and it should keep fresh before their expiry date. We recommend storing the canned evaporated milk in a cool, dry place away from sources of heat to extend its shelf life. Sometimes extended exposure to heat could cause the tin can to burst.

Storing Evaporated Milk in the Refrigerator

As for opened tins of evaporated milk, it’s best to keep the milk in the fridge. Since tin cans are prone to rust, you have to transfer the evaporated milk in a fridge-friendly container. You can use a resealable plastic bag or an airtight container to store the evaporated milk. Just pour the milk into your desired container but leave a few inches of space so the milk won’t spill. Secure the airtight lid and then stow in the coldest spot in the fridge. Milk needs a stable temperature so it won’t spoil.

Storing Evaporated Milk in the Freezer

Freezing evaporated milk is best for milk that’s nearing its expiry date as well as leftover evaporated milk for cooking. Frozen and thawed evaporated milk is best suited for cooking only. Just like any type of dairy product, expect slight changes in appearance once the evaporated milk has been frozen. A separation between the milk solids and the liquids is also possible after thawing the milk. Just give the evaporated milk a good stir to re-incorporate the solids into the liquids.

For freezing, we recommend splitting the milk into serving sizes. This method will make thawing much less of a hassle. For solo servings, you can use an ice cube tray to divide the evaporated milk. For cooking, you can use a muffin mold to divide the evaporated milk into manageable portions. Just pour the milk into the ice cube tray or muffin mold then pop the container in the freezer. Leave the milk to solidify in the freezer for at least 3 hours. After three hours, take the container out of the freezer and gently pop the frozen milk. Place the milk in a resealable plastic bag then squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. Write the storage date then stick in the freezer.

No need to thaw the frozen milk cubes if you are using it for cooking or as coffee creamer. Just drop the frozen cubes into the dish you are cooking and that’s it. Same when using the frozen evaporated milk for your morning coffee, just drop a cube or two in a cup of hot coffee. The milk will thaw and dissolve on its own.

Image used under Creative Commons from Carsten Schertzer

Shelf Life of Evaporated Milk

When kept in the pantry, a can of evaporated milk will last for a year in the pantry. Opened and chilled in the fridge, evaporated milk’s shelf life will only keep for 4 days. When frozen, evaporated milk will keep indefinitely as long as the temperature is kept at a stable 0 degrees Fahrenheit. You can extend the shelf life of the milk by not freezing the leftovers. Opening and closing the container of the milk could also increase the risk of cross-contamination and a much shorter shelf life.

Storage Tips

Did you know that you can turn evaporated milk into fresh milk? Just add a little water, restoring the extracted water could turn evaporated milk into fresh milk once again.

If you can, use an opaque container when transferring the milk into a different container. This will help prolong its shelf life even more.

Never re-freeze leftover evaporated milk. Discard any leftover instead of re-freezing.

How to Tell if Evaporated Milk has Gone Bad?

It’s easy to tell if evaporated milk has gone bad. It will develop a sour taste, a weird color, and sometimes, it could turn moldy too. If the milk has been stored in the fridge for more than a week, we don’t recommend using it even when it still looks fine. It could be spoiled even when there’s no sign of spoilage. Using spoiled milk could lead to food poisoning and diarrhea.

Summary

Can evaporated milk go bad? Yes, although evaporated milk has gone through extensive processing, it is not impervious to spoilage. This goes especially if the product is improperly packed or stored. Just keep all the tips we’ve outlined above to extend the shelf life of evaporated milk and prevent spoilage!