evaporated milk shelf life

Does Evaporated Milk Go Bad? Shelf Life Clarified

Quick summary: Yes, evaporated milk will go bad eventually. Its shelf life will significantly depend on the type of packaging and storage conditions. 

Let’s face it, most of us still opt for plain milk in our daily diet, whether we consume it fresh, in coffee, or in cakes. However, when you want that exceptionally creamy taste, you might prefer to try evaporated milk. A little smoother and with a creamier texture, and many say it has a finer flavor than ordinary milk.

Evaporated milk is nothing but regular milk with a lot of liquid removed. You will mostly come across information that up to 60% of the water has been extracted. After that, milk is heated for stabilization and thus packaged. It usually comes in cans. And yes, you guessed right, it can last longer than the term on the back, but not as long as you’d hoped. Here are all the details.

How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last?

When it comes to the durability of evaporated milk, the most crucial thing will be whether it is opened or not. Good storage conditions are a must if you want to maximize shelf life, but we’ll discuss that later. Here’s how long you can count on the evaporated milk being fresh.

Unopened evaporated milk

As long as it’s not opened, evaporated milk is pretty well protected from spoilage, especially if it’s in a can. Stored at a comfortable room temperature without exposure to heat, it will be stable for at least two to three months after the expiration date. It is very likely that you will be able to use it for one to two months after that period, but first, check that it is correct. If you expected the can to last for years like other canned foods, we have to disappoint you. That is not the case here.

Opened evaporated milk

After opening, the durability changes dramatically. First of all, be sure to keep the leftovers in the refrigerator, and milk will probably only be good for two to three days. Some manufacturers say that it can last up to five days, but the best advice would be to use everything up as soon as possible.

Can Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

No doubt it can. As we described earlier, spoilage will occur dramatically faster after opening, but an unopened can will not last forever. Here are the signs that can help you recognize that the expiration date has passed.

Sign 1: Too much time has passed

For an unopened can, that would be about five to six months after the expiration date written on the back. For open milk, it is a limit of a maximum of five days. In any case, if too much time has passed, throw away the product even though it may seem fine to you. The initial stages of deterioration may not be clearly visible, so it’s still better to be safe.

Sign 2: Off smell

If the smell indicates any changes, rather discard the milk and get a new package. A foul odor is undoubtedly one of the first signs that something is wrong. Certainly, lousy taste too, which goes without saying.

Sign 3: Changes in appearance

Whether you notice changes in color or lumps have appeared in the milk, this is a sure sign that the end has come. Evaporated milk has a delicate silky texture and a creamy white color. Anything that doesn’t look that way is not good.

Which is the Best Way to Store Evaporated Milk?

Storing evaporated milk is not a special effort, but it is quite important that you stick to the basic guidelines. The can itself protects the contents from light, so you don’t have to worry about that. But other prerequisites are your task.

Tip 1: Keep at a suitable temperature

Room temperature is acceptable unless you live in the tropical heat. So the pantry or kitchen cabinet is a perfectly decent place for an unopened can of evaporated milk. After opening, the leftovers must go in the fridge. There is no debate there.

Tip 2: Seal before storing

It is extremely important to seal leftovers well before putting them in the refrigerator. A can will not be the happiest solution for this, so rather pour the liquid into a plastic container with a lid. That should be pretty decent protection for a couple of days.


How can you tell if evaporated milk is bad?

The usual signs of milk spoilage also apply to the evaporated version. You will notice a bad smell, maybe lumps that have formed in the liquid, or a color change. The ultimate test, in the end, is the taste.

How long can you keep evaporated milk after opening?

The shelf life of evaporated milk after opening is really short. The safest estimate is only two to three days. Some manufacturers state that leftovers can last up to five days, but don’t stretch it too far.

Can expired evaporated milk give you food poisoning?

Yes, spoiled evaporated milk can cause indigestion if you have consumed it.

Evaporated milk is a moistureless version of its original regular milk. Both are dairy products, but the evaporated version does not have as much water in it. The heating process eliminates up to sixty percent of the water and stabilizes the milk for canning. 

You probably don’t use evaporated milk that often, so it’s no wonder you find forgotten cans in the pantry. It is good to know that an unopened product can last for several months after the expiration date written on the back. After opening, keep the leftovers in the refrigerator and use them within two to three days.

If your evaporated milk has already spoiled, find a solution in these replacements: 9 Best Evaporated Milk Substitutes When You’re in a Pinch

*image by AtlasStudio/depositphotos

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