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

Are you planning to bake with evaporated milk? Wait! Before you take that can of evaporated milk from your pantry, you need to know if it’s still safe to use.

If your evaporated milk is months after its best by date, you might be wondering, does evaporated milk go bad?

Eventually, it does. 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:

  • What is evaporated milk’s shelf life?
  • How long does evaporated milk last?
  • How to tell if evaporated milk has gone bad?
  • How to store evaporated milk correctly?
  • …and other commonly asked questions about this popular milk!

Are you excited to know the answers?

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

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last For

image of canned 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.

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 the evaporated milk 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.

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 evaporated milk is bad:

1. The color

Evaporated 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. Milk texture

Sometimes evaporated milk 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 evaporated 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 evaporated milk has gone bad. Spoiled evaporated milk would have a distinctly sour smell because of bacterial growth. Please don’t attempt to taste it!

Evaporated Milk Storage Tips

If you store evaporated 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 evaporated milk in the kitchen or pantry

Storing unopened cans of evaporated milk 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 of evaporated milk, please place it in the fridge after use. Do NOT store evaporated milk 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.’ 

Frequently Asked Questions

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

1. Is evaporated milk supposed to appear yellow?

Evaporated milk is white since it is just milk after removing up to 60% of water. It is NOT supposed to be yellow, and if so, we recommend that you throw it out.

Before you do, check the label and see if what you’re dealing with is evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk is made of evaporated milk with extra sugars, so it has a yellowish color.

2. Does evaporated milk spoil when left unopened?

No, evaporated milk will not spoil when unopened, lasting for around 2 years past its expiration date. Even if it can last for longer than that, it’s best to use it within 2 years rather than let it go to waste. Furthermore, the overall quality decreases as time passes, so expect a different flavor when using it past its best by date.

3. Can I freeze evaporated milk?

We do NOT recommend freezing evaporated milk. Doing so will only destabilize the milk’s structure. As a result, your evaporated 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 evaporated 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 evaporated 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. 

4. What can I do with evaporated milk?

Did you know you can convert evaporated milk back to regular milk? Just add an equal amount of water and stir well.

You can also substitute buttermilk for evaporated milk. Mix one cup of evaporated milk with one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice.

5. How long can I leave evaporated milk outside after opening it?

After opening your evaporated milk, you must refrigerate it immediately, or no longer than 2 hours. Bacteria grow faster at room temperature, and if left unopened, air and bacteria can head to your milk quickly.

6. What happens if I drink expired evaporated milk?

If ever you ingest a large amount of expired evaporated milk, you’ll most likely suffer from food poisoning. Its symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

If you ingest evaporated milk from rusted and damaged cans, it can cause botulism poisoning. This can cause difficulty in breathing, muscle paralysis, and worse, death.

Wrapping It Up

Just like most types of dairy products, evaporated milk has a shorter lifespan once opened. Never try to ingest a spoiled dairy product past its expiration date, ad store it properly to maintain its quality.

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

image of how long does canned evaporated milk last

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