It’s always challenging to store leftover food. This is especially the case when you know they tend to spoil fast. Whenever you open a can of evaporated milk, you get some leftovers with a drastically reduced shelf life.
So, what do you do with the leftover evaporated milk that you’d like to use later after opening the container from the store?
Judging by manufacturers’ recommendations and after trying several methods, I noticed that refrigeration remains the best way to store evaporated milk after opening. Put the milk in an airtight container and refrigerate it for 4 to 6 days. You can also freeze it or convert it to buttercream or regular milk.
In this article, we’ll look at creative ways to store evaporated milk after opening. Also, keep reading to find out how long it can stay good.
What Is Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is dairy milk that has been heated to evaporate most of the water content. This makes it thicker (and creamier) than regular milk.
There are three primary varieties of evaporated milk based on fat content: low-fat, skim, and whole milk.
Evaporated milk has a long shelf-life and can stay good for two years or even more. An average can of evaporated milk is 12 ounces, and most recipes are made to use up the entire can.
How Is It Made?
The first step in making evaporating milk is heating dairy milk so that about 60% of the water content evaporates. After that, it is homogenized, goes through heat sterilization then canned.
It is a much more complex food processing process that I wouldn’t go into details here since this article is focused on storage.
What Is Evaporated Milk Used For?
Evaporated milk is incorporated in some of the most delicious dairy recipes. Let’s take a look at some of its best uses:
Making Chocolate Ice Cream
Evaporated milk is the key to a good chocolate ice cream, thanks to its high protein content, which delivers a superior texture while limiting the ice cream’s iciness.
Although milk is mostly added to recipes for its protein content, it adds a chalky sweetness that enhances the ice cream’s flavor.
Here’s a great recipe to make chocolate ice cream using evaporated milk.
Making Mac and Cheese
Making mac and cheese is not as easy as melting cheese on a pan and adding cooked pasta. If you’ve tried this, you know that cheese breaks, leaving you with stringy, greasy clumps.
Therefore, all mac and cheese recipes need some sort of stabilizer to keep the cheese together and leave it creamy and smooth.
Instead of using regular milk and flour as the stabilizer, you can try a mix of evaporated milk and cornstarch. The starch molecules thicken your sauce, while the evaporated milk adds that dairy flavor without all the water you’d get from regular milk or cream.
Evaporated milk is used in many salad dressing recipes, but notably the German salad dressing recipe.
After World Wars I and II, fresh milk was hard to come by in Germany. Therefore, people started to use evaporated milk, which had a longer shelf life.
Since the ingredients are so simple, the recipe is easy to prepare and takes just about 10 minutes. It’s therefore surprising that it’s so tasty.
The recipe falls under the German comfort foods category, meaning it may not always be trendy, but it evokes warm heartfelt memories. It’s one of the foods you’d turn to on a cold winter night at the fireplace.
Here are a few evaporated milk salad dressing recipes.
Evaporated milk was initially meant to be rehydrated. This is helpful in places where milk storage is difficult, like desert islands or campgrounds. However, if it’s left thickened, it can stand in for heavy cream or milk as an enriching agent.
Evaporated milk adds flavor and texture to chowders and creamy soups, sweetens coffee, and gives body to smoothies. In fact, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, you can use it instead of condensed milk in most recipes.
How Long Does Evaporated Milk Last After Opening?
Unopened evaporated milk is shelf-stable and can stay good for months, if not years. However, after opening it, it keeps for only 3 to 5 days.
Opening the packet changes its microenvironment and now the milk is exposed to more spoilage microorganisms.
How Can You Tell if Evaporated Milk Has Gone Bad?
Evaporated milk shows the usual signs of going bad, it’s dairy milk, after all. So you can expect to see lumps, changed color, strange smell, or sour taste.
Generally, if anything about the milk is unusual, it’s probably bad and should not be consumed.
When it comes to color change, remember that milk is white. If yours is different (maybe yellow), it’s probably sweetened condensed milk which is similar to evaporated milk but definitely not the same.
Best Way to Store Evaporated Milk After Opening?
Immediately you open a can of evaporated milk, you shorten its shelf life drastically. Here are some of the best ways to store it to keep it for longer.
The best way to store evaporated milk after opening is by transferring it to an opaque, airtight container and removing as much air as possible from it. You can now store the container in a refrigerator.
You can also use a plastic bag enforced with rubber bands to wrap the original can until it’s airtight, then store in a fridge. This method also applies to leftover evaporated milk.
Refrigerated evaporated milk can keep for 4 to 6 days.
While many people don’t like freezing evaporated milk, it’s still an option. Freeze evaporated milk in an airtight container but leave at least 1/2 an inch headspace at the top as milk expands when frozen.
Freezing evaporated milk might destabilize its structure. Therefore, you should thaw frozen evaporated milk in the refrigerator or blend it thoroughly before using it.
Properly stored frozen milk will maintain its quality for about 3 months but can stay safe beyond that time.
You can also convert evaporated milk back to regular milk. The best way is to mix 1 cup of water with 1 cup of evaporated milk. Stir them well and store or use the milk as you would.
Another option is to make a substitute for buttermilk. You need to mix a cup of evaporated milk, a tablespoon of white vinegar, or lemon juice to get a cup of buttermilk. Use and store the buttermilk as you would.
How Do You Store Leftover Evaporated Milk?
If you open a can of evaporated milk, you’re likely to get some leftovers. The best way to store it is to put it into an airtight container and refrigerate it.
Since tins are basically impossible to airtight, it’s best to transfer the evaporated milk into a plastic airtight container. Of course, you can also DIY an airtight seal with a plastic or aluminum wrap and a rubber band.
However, a resealable container is more convenient and provides a better seal.
Can You Freeze Evaporated Milk After Opening?
Freezing evaporated milk is not always recommended because it destabilizes its structure. The milk might also lose some of its flavor and color. However, evaporated milk can last longer than refrigerated milk if frozen properly.
Can You Get Sick From Expired Evaporated Milk?
When you look at the product label of your evaporated milk, you will see a best-by date. In general, you can use the milk for a month or two after its best-by date, but it’s risky because you can’t tell exactly when it’s bad.
Using expired evaporated milk puts you at risk of a digestive tract disorder or even food poisoning. Typical symptoms include:
- Stomach cramps.
Where to Buy Evaporated Milk
Evaporated milk is virtually everywhere. You can buy it at the supermarket or grocery store. If you don’t feel like waiting in line at the counter, you can also order on sites like Amazon for doorstep delivery.