Can Evaporated Milk Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

image of evaporated milk shelf life

Are you planning to bake with evaporated milk? Wait! Before you take that can from your pantry, you need to know if it’s still safe to use. If it is months after its best by date, you might be wondering, does evaporated milk go bad?

Short Answer:

Eventually, evaporated milk does go bad. It’s milk, after all! The good news is that it lasts longer than we think.

In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about evaporated milk including:

Are you excited to know the answers?

Then, keep on reading to learn all about this milk and its shelf life, storage tips, and how to keep it tasting great.

image of canned evaporated milk

What’s Evaporated Milk?

Evaporated milk is one of the many types of dairy products available on the market today. It’s made by evaporating milk, removing half of its water content then sterilized it at high temperatures. Afterward, it produces a dark-colored product that has a caramelized milk flavor. (*)

The product will then be canned and sold in grocery stores, having many purposes. You can use canned evaporated milk for your coffee or tea, for baking numerous desserts, and even as an alternative to whole milk.

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last?

Now, on to the question: How long does evaporated milk last?

Yes, canned evaporated milk goes bad if stored improperly. But when left unopened, it is unlikely to spoil.

  • Canned evaporated milk doesn’t contain any sugars or forms of sweeteners to use as a preservative, hence the possibility of spoilage. That’s why it’s important to be wary about its shelf life and how long it can last afterward.
  • Unopened evaporated milk can last for 1 year past its expiration date if stored properly in the pantry. Low fat or skimmed canned evaporated milk can last for up to 9 months past its expiration date. (*)
  • Opened evaporated milk can last for 3-5 days when left in the fridge.
 PantryFridge
Evaporated milk (unopened)Best by + 6 – 12 months 
Evaporated milk (opened) 3 -5 days

Learn more: The Shelf life of Dairy Products

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How to Tell If Evaporated Milk Has Gone Bad?

The shelf life mentioned above is only a general rule of thumb to follow. It would help if you did not base the expiry of canned evaporated milk solely on the date.

We recommend you test it out before using it on your food and drinks as well.

Here are signs on how to tell if it is bad:

1. The color

Your milk would have a slightly golden tinge because of its caramelized natural sugars. If the milk has a darker shade of yellow to brown, it’s most likely spoiled.

Besides the color of the milk, check the can itself. If ever the can show signs of damage, such as dents, rust, or leakage, then toss it. Even if the milk looks fine, there’s still the risk of botulism poisoning from the can’s metals.

2. The Milk texture

Sometimes it would have a thicker skin at the top layer. The ‘milk skin’ you see on the surface is just a normal process of fat separation. It happens when storing it in an unsealed container, as the milk is exposed to air.

Solve this by heating the milk and stirring it until it goes back to its old consistency.

Another way to check if your milk is bad is to pour some into a bowl, inspecting it for lumps. If there are lumps, discolorations, and even signs of mold growth, toss it out.

It may also have a curd-like texture, similar to other types of milk. The presence of curds means spoilage.

3. The smell

The smell is one of the top ways you can tell if it has gone bad. Spoiled milk would have a distinctly sour smell because of bacterial growth. Please don’t attempt to taste it!

Storage Tips

If you store your milk properly, it lasts longer. Here are ways you can keep your opened and unopened evaporated milk tasting great when using it:

1. Storing canned in the kitchen or pantry

Storing unopened cans is simple. Place it on your kitchen countertop or cabinet. As long as it’s in a cool, dark place, it can last for 1-2 years past its expiration date.

We highly suggest keeping it in the pantry over the kitchen counters or cabinets, though. It’s guaranteed a cool and dark area at consistent room temperature.

2. Storing in the fridge

After opening a can, please place it in the fridge after use. Do NOT store in an open can. Instead, place the leftovers in an airtight container or jar to prevent them from absorbing other smells in the fridge.

We recommend using airtight containers as the air around the milk affects its content, forming ‘milk skin.’ 

3. Freeze evaporated milk

We do NOT recommend freezing it. Doing so will only destabilize the milk’s structure. As a result, your milk loses color and flavor from the ingredient separation.

If you must freeze it to prolong its shelf life, it is possible as long as it’s in an airtight container. Don’t freeze your milk straight from the can, as this will cause damage to the can and milk quality. It can last for three months longer but expect its color and flavor to change a bit.

We’ve tried pouring milk into ice cube trays and freezing it, which we love for coffee. Freezing it in ice cube trays is a great option if you plan to use your milk for drinks.

(Want to learn more? Here’s our article title: “Can you freeze evaporated milk?)

Frequently Asked Questions

There is more to learn about this milk! Check out these frequently asked questions to properly store and use

To Sum Up: Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

Yes, just like most types of dairy products, this has a shorter lifespan once opened. Never try to ingest a spoiled dairy product past its expiration date, and store it properly to maintain its quality.

Hopefully, you learned a lot about this milk and its shelf life from us. We urge you to store your cans properly and taste test it before you use it!

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