Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Go Bad? How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last?

Sweetened condensed milk is often used in desserts as well as for coffee and tea.  It usually comes in a can, which means a long shelf life compared to other milk products.  But how long can it last?  Read on and find out.

Quick Answer

An unopened can of condensed milk can last at least a year after its “best by” date if you store it in a cool, dry place where the temperature doesn’t change too much.  Once you open it, the milk can survive up to two weeks in the refrigerator if stored in an air-tight container or by putting plastic wrap over the can.  The milk will last around three months in the freezer, but not in the can.

While condensed milk can last that long, there’s no guarantee that it will.  Always make sure to check your milk before you use it.

Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Go Bad? How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last?

So, where is the best place to store sweetened condensed milk?  It depends on when you need to use it and whether you want to use the whole can.

How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last Outside?

Sweetened condensed milk can last over a year past its due date if you keep it in the original unopened can.  That’s because condensed milk, as the name suggests, has sugar in it.  Sugar acts as a preservative and gives the milk a longer shelf life than most milk products.

Once opened, the can is capable of lasting a few hours outside of the fridge due to the sugar content, particularly if it’s in an air-tight container or covered in something like plastic wrap.  In that situation, it’s better to store it in the fridge than in the pantry.

The milk is at its best if kept in a cool, dry place away from any light or heat sources.  A pantry is a good choice, as is a cupboard that isn’t near any heat sources.  Keep it in the back, where it won’t be exposed to any light.

How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last in the Fridge?

When you open a can of condensed milk, that ends the sterilization and sets the clock ticking on the milk.  Refrigerating slows down the process of going bad so that it will last up to two weeks in an air-tight container.

If you don’t have an air-tight container, you can use plastic wrap or aluminum foil and an elastic to cover the can as tightly as possible.  This keeps airborne contaminants out.  The can needs to be stored far away from any smelly foods because the milk absorbs odors.

Don’t store the can on the refrigerator door, because that exposes the milk to warmer air and light.  Condensed milk lasts the longest when it’s at a consistently low temperature and away from any light sources.

How Long Does Sweetened Condensed Milk Last in the Freezer?

Condensed milk can last three months in the freezer, but its ingredients might separate a little when frozen.  The separation affects its texture, which might not blend back into what it was before.  However, this isn’t likely to happen because the sugar in the milk doesn’t freeze, but will instead become very thick.

Any freezing that you do should not be done in the original can; the can that your milk comes in isn’t made for freezing and will degrade at the seams.  Condensed milk must be frozen in an air-tight container placed at the back of the freezer to avoid exposure to warm air and light.

When you put the condensed milk into the container for freezing, remember to leave a two-inch gap between the milk and the top of the container.  Condensed milk expands as it freezes, so this gives it room to grow.

If you put your milk into another container, don’t forget to write down the “best by” date or the date you put it in.  This way you’ll be able to know when your condensed milk is more likely to be bad.

How To Tell If Sweetened Condensed Milk Has Gone Bad?

One of the downsides of condensed milk, like all dairy products, is that it can go bad.  Here are some signs that it’s time to throw your condensed milk away.

A funny smell: If you notice that your milk smells strange or a bit off, that’s a good sign that your milk has gone bad.

Lumps: This happens when the proteins inside of the milk break down.  The milk will also become thicker, up to the point where it can no longer be poured.

Thickness: Condensed milk is supposed to be thick, but as the proteins break down it will thicken to the point where it becomes hard to pour.

Mold: If bacteria gets into the condensed milk, it will turn moldy.  Look closely at the milk before you use it.

Different color: Over time, your milk might turn from a creamy color to a browner or yellower color.  This is because the milk reacts to oxygen exposure or oxidizes.

Damaged can: Check the can the milk came in.  Are there any signs of damage?  Is there any rust on the surface of the can?  If there is, it could mean that there is rust inside of it, too.  Is the can showing any evidence of bulging?  Do you see sudden dents that happened even though the can hasn’t fallen?  Bulging and unexplained dents could be a sign of botulism and it’s a good idea to throw it out.

How to Store Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk might last a long time, but there are ways to make it last even longer.

  • Some suggestions for air-tight containers to use include squeezable honey bottles, mason jars, resealable plastic bags, and Tupperware. There are also specialized containers sold online
  • Keep the can as far away from heat, light, and moisture as possible. All three of them can ruin the milk inside.
  • Homemade condensed milk needs to be stored in the fridge after it’s cooked since there’s no way to sterilize it or can it like the store-bought brands
  • When you open the can, make the openings small. If you aren’t using the whole can, that is.  Smaller openings are easier to cover and won’t let as much bacteria inside
  • Keep note of the “best by” date. While condensed milk can certainly last longer than the date printed on the can, the date means that the milk’s been in the can for a long time, and it’s a good idea to check to see if it’s gone bad
  • If you have more than one can in your pantry, rotate them so that the oldest can is the easiest to grab. This means that the older one will be used first and you won’t have to worry as much about it going bad.

Can You Freeze Sweetened Condensed Milk? How?

Freezing sweetened condensed milk is the best answer to long-term storage after it’s been opened.

  • Frozen condensed milk can keep for three to six months, although it tends to lose its flavor after three months
  • Keep the milk at a constant zero degrees Fahrenheit, to minimize any temperature changes that could affect it. Store it in the back of the freezer, away from the door
  • Divide the milk into smaller portions before you put it into the freezer because smaller pieces are easier to defrost. You can also use an ice cube tray wrapped in plastic wrap to freeze smaller portions, making it easier to pull out a cube to use
  • Since sweetened condensed milk doesn’t freeze solid, you can scoop some out to use with a teaspoon or something similar
  • It’s not recommended that you re-freeze thawed condensed milk

How to Thaw Sweetened Condensed Milk?

Once stored in the freezer, the milk doesn’t exactly get solid like most milk products but gets very thick.

  • To thaw your milk out, you can submerge the container with the milk in it into warm water for around ten to thirty minutes.
  • Alternatively, you could leave the container in the fridge overnight or if you’re using it to sweeten hot drinks, you can pull out a small portion like a cube and drop it into the drink.

Frequently Asked Questions About XYZ’s Shelf Life

Will eating expired sweetened condensed milk make me sick?  What about bad milk?

In theory, nothing will happen if you eat condensed milk after the “best by” date on the can.  If the can is in a safe place, then it won’t go bad until at least a year after the date.  In practice, you definitely want to check the milk before you use or eat it.  If the milk is bad, it’s just like drinking regular bad milk.  You could get nausea, stomachaches, and other unpleasant symptoms.

What is the difference between sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk?

The two kinds of milk start out with the same process, that is, milk boiling off the water until it’s sterile.  But condensed milk then has sugar added as a preservative so it’s much sweeter than evaporated milk.  Too sweet to use as a substitute, but since sugar is a preservative it will last longer than evaporated milk.

How long does homemade sweetened condensed milk last?  Is there a difference?

Since homemade condensed milk doesn’t have the benefit of being sterilized, it won’t last as long as the milk from a store.  How long it can last depends on the recipe.  It can last around a week in the refrigerator and up to three months in the freezer.

Wrap Up

The lasting power of sweetened condensed milk comes from the canning process and the sugar inside it.  This means your milk will be good for months, maybe even years, after it was first canned.

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