Evaporated milk is a super versatile ingredient that can add creaminess to a variety of recipes, from soups, stews to puddings, cakes and sweet breads. I use evaporated milk a lot and know that once opened, it can be difficult to know how to store it properly to ensure that it stays fresh and safe to use.
In this blog post, I will explore the best ways to store evaporated milk after opening, including tips for refrigeration, freezing, and turning it into regular milk or buttermilk. By following my simple tips, you can extend the shelf life of your evaporated milk and ensure that it is always ready to use when you need it.
How do you store evaporated milk after opening? The quick answer
The best way to store evaporated milk after opening is by pouring it into an airtight container, removing as much air as possible, closing the container, and putting it into the fridge immediately.
I would recommend using the leftover milk quickly, as it has a reduced shelf life once opened. Refrigerating the milk will not increase its shelf life, so it is important to use it as soon as possible.
If you don’t have a suitable container at least use a plastic bag that you put the tin in and tightly close the bag over the top and secure it with a clip or something to keep it in place. Basically you want to prevent any air coming in a spoiling the milk (also the milk can absorb various smells from your fridge when it’s just opened).
What is evaporated milk?
Evaporated milk is a type of milk that as the name suggests has a lot of it’s water content removed through a gentle heating process. The milk is then homogenized, canned, and sterilized, making it shelf-stable. It is commonly used in cooking and baking as a substitute for fresh milk, as it has a longer shelf life and a more concentrated flavor.
How is evaporated milk made?
Evaporated milk is made by heating fresh milk under vacuum at a high temperature, which removes about 60% of the water content. The milk is then homogenized to ensure that the fat is evenly distributed throughout the milk. The homogenized milk is then canned and heat-sterilized to ensure that it has a long shelf life. Some manufacturers may add stabilizers and emulsifiers to the product to improve its texture and prevent separation.
What can you use evaporated milk for?
Evaporated milk is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a lot of different recipes. I normally use it to substitute fresh milk in recipes that require a richer, creamier texture, such as custards, pies, and puddings.
Evaporated milk can also be used as a creamer in coffee or tea, or as a substitute for cream in savory dishes such as soups, stews, and sauces. You can also used it in baking recipes that call for milk, such as cakes, cookies, and breads.
There are also specific recipes that use evaporated milk, such as quick vanilla fudge recipes, coconut ice sweets, pumpkin or other fruit puddings other sweets.
How long does evaporated milk last after opening?
Once opened, evaporated milk can last for 3 to 7 days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. I’ve also seen that some brands recommend using it within 2 to 3 days of opening, but I’m guessing that’s just them being super cautious. It is important to use the milk quickly once it has been opened, as its shelf life is reduced once exposed to air.
Can you tell if evaporated milk has gone bad?
Yes, you can tell if evaporated milk has gone bad. Signs of spoilage include an off smell, a sour taste, and a thicker or lumpy texture. I’ve also seen the milk going darker in colour – from light creamy colour to darker caramel colour, which definitely means that the milk is not right and most likely has gone off. If the milk has been stored improperly or for too long, it may also develop mold or bacterial growth, which can be dangerous to consume. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the milk.
How best to refrigerate opened evaporated milk?
To refrigerate opened evaporated milk, you should transfer it to an airtight container, remove as much air as possible, and then put it into the refrigerator immediately. It is important to use the milk quickly once it has been opened, as its shelf life is reduced once exposed to air. Refrigerating the milk will not increase its shelf life, so it is recommended to use it within 3 to 7 days of opening.
If I’m lazy, but I know I’m going to use the rest of the evaporated milk the next day, I try to close the lid as much as I can (or originally don’t open the tin completely, just two holes on each side).
How to freeze opened evaporated milk
I sometimes also freeze the openened evaporated milk, especially if I know that I’m not going to use it soon.
To freeze opened evaporated milk, you should pour it into an airtight, freezer-safe container, leaving some room at the top for expansion, and then put it into the freezer immediately.
I also prefer to freeze the milk in several smaller portions to avoid having to defrost the entire container and sometimes I use ice cube trays instead of large containers. I’ve also noticed, that when I’m thawing the milk, it is normal for it to separate, but this should not affect its use in baking or cooking. One thing I would definitely not recommend is to refreeze thawed evaporated milk, as this can affect its texture, quality and it can also go off quicker.
How to turn evaporated milk into regular milk
Evaporated milk can be reconstituted into regular milk by adding an equal amount of water to it. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of regular milk, you can use 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of water instead. It is important to mix the evaporated milk and water thoroughly to ensure that the mixture is well combined and has a consistent texture. Keep in mind that reconstituted evaporated milk will have a slightly different flavor and texture than regular milk, so it may not be suitable for all recipes.
How to turn evaporated milk into buttermilk
To turn evaporated milk into buttermilk, you can add an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice to it. For every 1 cup of evaporated milk, you should add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, stir well, and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens and curdles. Alternatively, you can mix equal parts of evaporated milk and water, and then add 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every cup of the mixture. Stir well and let it sit for a few minutes until it thickens and curdles. Once the mixture has thickened and curdled, it can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes.
Can I keep the opened evaporated milk in the original tin or should I pour it into another container?
It is not a good idea to keep opened evaporated milk in the original tin once it has been opened, as the metal can impart a metallic taste to the milk and the tin may not be airtight, which can lead to spoilage.
I find that the milk keeps best when I transfer it to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or plastic container, and store it in the refrigerator. Keeping the milk in an airtight container will help to prolong the milk’s shelf life and prevent it from absorbing any unwanted flavors or odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
What can I do with leftover evaporated milk?
The best way to make sure that your opened evaporated milk doesn’t go off is to use it up for some other recipes. Here are my favourite ways:
- Baking: Use evaporated milk in place of regular milk in baking recipes such as cakes, cookies, and breads or turn into buttermilk to use for muffin recipes such as my Blueberry & Lavender Muffin Recipe >>
- Coffee and tea: Use evaporated milk as a creamer in coffee or tea
- Soups and stews: Add evaporated milk to creamy soups and stews
- Mac and cheese: Use evaporated milk as a secret ingredient in mac and cheese for a creamier, more flavorful dish.
- Desserts: Use evaporated milk in desserts such as custards, pies, and puddings
- Smoothies: Use evaporated milk and water instead of regular milk for breakfast smoothies or my Banana & Peanut Butter Smoothie Bowl Recipe
- Sauces: Use evaporated milk in savory sauces such as Alfredo sauce or gravy
- Ice cream: Use evaporated milk to make your homemade ice cream healthier
- Breakfast oatmeal or porridge: dilute the evaporated milk with water and use as you would regular milk for my Peanut Butter Porridge Recipe
Can I use evaporated milk like a regular milk for tea and coffee?
Yes, you can use evaporated milk as a substitute for regular milk in tea or coffee. However, keep in mind that evaporated milk has a richer, creamier texture than regular milk, so you may need to use less of it to achieve the desired flavor and consistency.
I find that adding evaporated milk into coffee is fine (it taste a bit more like a cream) and I’ve also used in homemade taro bubble tea, but I don’t really like the flavour in regular English tea. Saying that, I’ve used evaporated milk int Chai Massala Tea, Kasmiri Pink Tea and Karak Tea and it did tasted very nice (I think most of these recipes use thicker evaporated milks anyway, so it’ was a good combination).
This blog post was originally written on 2 August 2023 and last updated on 2 August 2023