Evaporated milk with its rich and creamy texture, is a versatile kitchen staple that often finds its way into a variety of recipes from luscious desserts to savory sauces.
As with many perishable items, understanding how long it lasts and how to properly store evaporated milk is crucial for maintaining its quality and ensuring it remains safe for consumption.
In this article, we will explore the factors that influence the shelf life of evaporated milk, the significance of deciphering expiration dates, and practical tips for storage to help you make the most of this pantry essential.
So, if you have ever wondered, “How long does evaporated milk last in the fridge?” — read on for insights into keeping this dairy product fresh and delicious.
What actually is evaporated milk?
Evaporated milk is a concentrated dairy product created by removing approximately 60% of the water content from fresh milk.
This reduction is achieved through a heating process, which involves heating the milk until about 60% of its water evaporates. The result is a thicker and creamier liquid with a more concentrated flavor and higher viscosity than regular milk.
Evaporated milk typically retains its nutritional profile including the proteins, vitamins, and minerals that makes it a convenient ingredient in various culinary applications.
Due to its reduced water content, evaporated milk possesses a longer shelf life and can be stored without refrigeration until opened.
Also, it is a common addition to both sweet and savory dishes, ranging from desserts to sauces, providing a rich and creamy texture that enhances the overall taste of a wide array of recipes.
How to make evaporated milk at home?
Making evaporated milk at home is a simple process that requires only one ingredient – regular milk. Here is a short and easy method that you can try to make evaporated milk:
- 4 cups of whole milk
- Pour the 4 cups of whole milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Heat the milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer.
- Allow the milk to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from scalding, until it reduces by about 60% or reaches your desired thickness. This typically takes 1-2 hours.
- Once the milk has thickened and reduced, remove it from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the homemade evaporated milk to a clean, airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
How long does evaporated milk last in the fridge?
Like other packaged foods, evaporated milk has a limited shelf life. The shelf life of evaporated milk depends greatly on whether it is opened and unopened.
Opened evaporated milk typically has a shorter shelf life than unopened evaporated milk when stored in the refrigerator.
Once the can or container is opened, it can last for 3-5 days maximum and it is advisable to use the evaporated milk within this certain time period for optimal quality and safety. This timeframe ensures that the milk does not spoil, and its flavor and texture remain satisfactory.
On the other hand, unopened evaporated milk, when stored in a cool and dry place such as refrigerator or pantry can maintain its quality for an extended period. It generally lasts for up to 6 to 12 months. The shelf life of unopened can of evaporated milk also depends on the brand and packaging.
How to store evaporated milk?
Storing the evaporated milk is a super simple and easy process. To store it, all you need to do is;
At room temperature
- Choose a cool and dry area in your pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
- Make sure the can or container is tightly sealed before storage. This helps maintain the quality and prevents contamination.
- Take note of the expiration date on the packaging.
- Once opened, pour any remaining evaporated milk into a clean, airtight container. This prevents absorption of odors from the fridge and helps maintain the milk’s quality.
- Consider labeling the container with the current date. This makes it easy to track how long the evaporated milk has been stored in the refrigerator.
- Place the sealed container in the refrigerator. Aim to keep it on a shelf rather than in the door as temperatures are more consistent on shelves.
- For optimal quality and safety, use the refrigerated evaporated milk within 3 to 5 days. This timeframe helps ensure it stays fresh and doesn’t spoil.
Can you freeze evaporated milk?
Yes, you can freeze evaporated milk but it is important to note that the texture may change slightly upon thawing. Freezing can cause the milk to separate, resulting in a grainier texture.
While the texture may be altered, frozen and thawed evaporated milk can still be suitable for cooking and baking applications where the change in texture is less noticeable. Frozen evaporated milk can last 6-12 months.
How to freeze evaporated milk?
To freeze evaporated milk quickly and easily, follow these steps:
- Pour the evaporated milk into a freezer-safe, airtight container, leaving some space at the top for expansion.
- Label the container with the current date to track its freshness.
- Place the sealed container in the freezer.
- When ready to use, thaw the frozen evaporated milk in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
- After thawing, stir or shake the milk well to restore its texture.
Common uses of evaporated milk
Evaporated milk is a versatile ingredient with a rich, creamy texture that lends itself to a variety of culinary applications. Some common uses of evaporated milk include:
- Baking: Evaporated milk is often used in baking to add moisture and richness to recipes. It contributes to the tenderness of baked goods like cakes, cookies, and brownies.
- Desserts: It is a key ingredient in many desserts, such as custards, puddings, ice creams, and fudge. The concentrated flavor of evaporated milk enhances the sweetness and creaminess of these treats.
- Sauces and Gravies: Evaporated milk can also be used to create creamy sauces and gravies for savory dishes. It adds a velvety texture and richness to pasta sauces, Alfredo sauces, and creamy soups.
- Coffee and Tea: Some people use evaporated milk as a creamy and rich addition to coffee or tea. It can add a delightful depth of flavor to your hot beverages.
- Hot Chocolate: You can also make hot chocolate with evaporated milk. When making hot chocolate, substituting evaporated milk for regular milk can result in a creamier and more indulgent drink.
- Smoothies: For an extra creamy and luxurious texture, some people add evaporated milk to fruit smoothies or milkshakes.
What are some good substitutes of evaporated milk?
If you find yourself out of evaporated milk or prefer a non-dairy alternative, several substitutes can mimic its creamy texture and rich taste in various recipes. Here are some common substitutes for evaporated milk:
- Half-and-Half: A mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream, half-and-half provides a similar richness to evaporated milk and can be used in a 1:1 ratio.
- Heavy Cream: Second good substitute is heavy cream. For recipes where a richer texture is desired, heavy cream is a suitable substitute. Use it in a 1:1 ratio but be mindful of the higher fat content.
- Coconut Milk: Coconut milk can be a great substitute in both sweet and savory dishes. Use it but keep in mind that it will impart a mild coconut flavor to the dish.
- Soy Milk or Almond Milk: Non-dairy milk alternatives like soy milk or almond milk can work as substitutes in recipes. Choose unsweetened varieties for savory dishes.
- Condensed Milk (Diluted): Last but not the least is condensed milk. If you have condensed milk on hand, you can dilute it with an equal amount of water to approximate the consistency of evaporated milk.
Signs of spoilage
Recognizing the signs of spoilage in evaporated milk is essential to ensure its safety for consumption. Here are some indicators of spoilage that you can sense
- Unpleasant Odor: If the evaporated milk has a sour, off, or rancid smell, it has likely gone bad.
- Changes in Color: Discoloration such as a yellowish or brownish hue can be a sign of spoilage. Fresh evaporated milk should have a consistent white or cream color.
- Abnormal Texture: Lumps, curdling, or separation of the liquid are visual cues that the milk is no longer suitable for consumption.
- Unusual Taste: Spoiled evaporated milk will have a noticeably off or bitter taste. If it doesn’t taste as expected, it’s best to discard it.
- Mold Growth: Visible mold in the form of dark spots or fuzzy patches is a clear sign that the milk has been contaminated and should not be consumed.
What happens if you drink spoiled evaporated milk?
Drinking spoiled evaporated milk can pose health risks due to the potential growth of harmful bacteria. Spoiled milk, whether evaporated or not, may contain pathogens such as bacteria, molds, or yeast that can multiply and produce toxins over time.
Consuming these contaminants can lead to foodborne illnesses, resulting in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, ingestion of spoiled milk can cause more serious health issues.
Does canned evaporated milk spoiled?
Yes, canned evaporated milk can spoil, especially after opening. Signs of spoilage include changes in color, texture, and odor.
Why is evaporated milk healthier?
Evaporated milk can be considered a healthier option due to its concentrated nutrient content. As water is removed during the evaporation process, it becomes more calorie-dense and provides essential nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamin D.
Is condensed milk the same as evaporated milk?
No, condensed milk and evaporated milk are not the same. Condensed milk is sweetened and has a higher sugar content, making it thicker and more syrupy. In contrast, evaporated milk is unsweetened, has a creamier texture, and is used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Can you whip evaporated milk?
While it may be possible to whip evaporated milk, it may not achieve the same volume and stability as whipping cream. To enhance its whipping capabilities, chill the evaporated milk and utensils beforehand, and consider adding sugar and vanilla for flavor.
Proper storage of evaporated milk is essential to maintain its quality and safety. When in the refrigerator, following these storage guidelines ensures a longer shelf life and optimal flavor.
By being mindful of expiration dates and signs of spoilage, you can enjoy the rich, creamy goodness of evaporated milk in your favorite recipes without compromising on taste or safety.
Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.