Does condensed milk expire?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does condensed milk expire” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of condensed milk in different conditions. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to tell if condensed milk has gone bad and the tips to properly store the condensed milk.
Many international legislations determine a minimum value of 34% of proteins in the total non-fat dairy solids. The calculation of this parameter for Brazilian sweet condensed milk products showed an average of 33%, which is below. Similarly, the average fat content was 7.85% which is under the minimum 8% value stipulated by some international legislation (1).
So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.
Does condensed milk expire?
Yes, like all the other food items condensed milk can also expire after a certain time. Studies showed that many chemical changes occur during storage of condensed milk, also called evaporated milk, and off-flavors are produced, such as methyl ketones, furan, and methyl furan, 2- heptanone and 2-pentanone, which derived from degradation of milk fats and other compounds (3).
How long does condensed milk last in the fridge?
Open canned condensed milk lasts for 4-6 days in the fridge if stored in an air-tight bottle or air-tight container at or below 40°F (2). Moreover, you can also cover the upper part of the opened can of condensed milk with plastic wrap or aluminum foil to ensure that it will have minimum or no exposure to air.
Unopened canned condensed milk lasts for about 12 months if stored properly in a cool, dry, and dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. An unopened canned condensed milk can stay good in a cool and dark corner of your pantry, but it should be refrigerated as soon as you open it.
Moreover, you should always read the best by or best before date that is written on the can of the condensed milk but this date refers to more of quality rather than safety so the condensed milk doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date.
What is the optimum temperature to store condensed milk in the fridge?
You should always store the condensed milk at 40°F or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone”. Therefore it is always advised to store condensed milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.
How long does condensed milk last at room temperature?
Open canned condensed milk lasts for about 2 hours when left at room temperature. condensed milk is a highly perishable commodity and has a lot of macro and micronutrients present in it. Moreover, the condensed milk has a lot of water present in its formulation so if it is kept out for more than 2 hours, bacteria and other microbes will find their way into the condensed milk and will spoil it.
Although condensed milk is a stable product at room temperature, once opened it should be treated as fresh fluid milk, that is, you should not return unused milk that has been sitting out to its original container where it could contaminate the remaining milk (2).
Can you freeze the condensed milk?
It is not recommended to freeze your condensed milk as the condensed milk can separate into different layers and become watery when thawed after freezing. However, similar to fluid milk, it can be frozen and stored for up to three months and will be safe to use if it is thawed in the refrigerator (2).
What is the meaning of different dates written on the condensed milk?
- “Sell by” date indicates the particular date before which condensed milk should be sold to the customer, it is the recommended date before which condensed milk should be sold (4).
- “Best before” date tells the time during which the condensed milk has its best or peak quality. It is an indicator of quality rather than safety.
- “Expires on” date refers to the date after which the flavor and overall quality of the condensed milk begin to deteriorate gradually.
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How to tell if the condensed milk has gone bad?
You can tell whether or not condensed milk has gone bad by considering its color, taste, texture, and smell.
The fresh condensed milk has a light creamy color to it. If you notice that the color of your condensed milk has darkened and is more of a yellow color then that means that your condensed milk is past its prime age. Color change is considered to have originated in the consequence of lactose caramelization and Maillard’s reaction due to thermal treatment in the evaporated process. This lactose denaturation in milk causes browning and a reaction product with bitter, unpleasant and burned taste. During storage, there is an increase in the brown color (5).
Fresh condensed milk has a sweet taste to it so if you feel something sour or acidic after tasting a bit of your condensed milk then it is an indication that your condensed milk has gone bad. Oxidative changes of milk fat may happen during storage of concentrated and dried dairy products containing fat, resulting in off-flavors, such as oxidized and cheese flavors (3,4).
Fresh condensed milk has a viscous but smooth texture so if your condensed milk is curdled or has lumps present in it, then it is the indication of bad condensed milk and you should get rid of it. If there is bacterial growth in the product, the acidity increases, leading to milk curdling (5).
If you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test then it is the indication that the condensed milk has gone bad.
What will happen if you consume condensed milk that has gone bad?
Consuming bad condensed milk can put you at the risk of many food-borne illnesses, especially food poisoning. Consuming spoiled condensed milk in a large quantity can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps.
How can you store condensed milk properly?
- Condensed milk can pick up odors therefore it should be stored in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge. Moreover, it should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, etc.
- It is better to store the condensed milk on a shelf of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge and that can negatively impact the quality of condensed milk.
- Condensed milk should be stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has its temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.
- Moreover, care should be taken while handling the condensed milk and all the cans of condensed milk that have some dent, leakage, or bulging in them should be discarded.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “does condensed milk expire” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of condensed milk in different conditions. Moreover, we discussed different ways to tell if condensed milk has gone bad and the tips to properly store the condensed milk.
- RENHE, Ísis Rodrigues Toledo, et al. Characterization of physicochemical composition, microbiology, sensory evaluation and microscopical attributes of sweetened condensed milk. Food Sci Technol, 2017, 38, 293-298.
- Schmutz, P. et al., Safe Handling of Milk and Dairy Products. 2022. Clemson University
- Loney, B. E., R. Bassette, and T. J. Claydon. Chemical and flavor changes in sterile concentrated milk during storage. J Dairy Sci, 1968, 51, 1770-1775.
- Food Product Dating. United States Department of Agriculture. 2019.
- Hwang, J. H., et al. Comparison of physicochemical and sensory properties of freeze-concentrated milk with evaporated milk during storage. Asian-australasian j anim sci, 2006, 20, 273-282.