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How Long Does Condensed Milk Last? Can It Go Bad?

Have you ever wanted to make caramel for a dessert and discovered that you still had three cans of condensed milk in your pantry? Now, the next question is, how long does condensed milk last? You’re wondering if it’s OK to still use that condensed milk for your meal even when it’s past its expiry date. Well, it’s important to know this as you need to be sure you won’t be making yourself or your loved ones ill. What’s the point in enjoying your tasty dessert if it earns you a trip to the hospital? If you would like to find out if your condensed milk can go bad and how long it lasts, then keep reading.

(Also Read: Substitutes for Evaporated Milk – What can I use instead?)

Can Condensed Milk Go Bad?


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Julia Sudnitskaya/


Condensed milk is a dairy product, and as is typical with all products in this category, it can go bad. However, it differs for sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk. Sweetened condensed milk has a longer shelf life than unsweetened, which means that it can still be used after about a year of its expiration date. This is for condensed milk in a closed can.


Many canned goods can maintain their quality for years, as long as the can stays intact. Therefore, even if the condensed milk is past its expiry date, it is still a good idea to check its quality. There are a few features to look out for. Start by checking for visual changes. Condensed milk will usually darken and become yellowish when it turns sour. It is usually a pale creamy color that can still be poured easily despite being thick. When condensed milk goes bad, it becomes so thick that it’s difficult to pour it.

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Since we know now that condensed milk can go bad, you should also look out for its smell. If it has an unpleasant or sour smell instead of a sweet, creamy smell, then it’s best to get rid of it.


How to Store Condensed Milk


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To store condensed milk the right way, it must be kept in a cool and dry area. This is usually the same for most canned foods, and even its unsweetened counterpart, known commonly as evaporated milk. As long as the can of condensed milk is unopened, you should keep it away from any source of heat, including sunlight. Keep the area moisture-free to ensure that the can doesn’t rust. Temperature regulation is crucial. Store condensed milk in a location where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate. This ensures that it retains optimum quality when it is ready for use.


For opened cans of condensed milk, make sure that they are always refrigerated. It is impossible to reseal the containers, so here are other ways to keep it from going bad:

  • Transfer the leftovers to a resealable jar or airtight container. Then store in a refrigerator
  • Create a temporary seal using a plastic wrap and rubber band to keep it airtight.
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However, it is not a great idea to store condensed milk in an unsealed can. This is because the milk can absorb odors from the refrigerator. No one would find milk that smells like old meat good for consumption. For homemade sweetened condensed milk, leave it to cool down after cooking and then store in a fridge.


Can You Refrigerate or Freeze Condensed Milk?

You can refrigerate or freeze condensed milk if the leftovers are not needed for about two weeks. The texture might not be the same after thawing, but this is not so common. This somewhat modified consistency will not affect the taste of your dessert, especially if wish to use it to make Dulce de Leche or caramel. It’s best to only freeze unopened cans of condensed milk as it already has a long shelf life. For opened ones, place in an airtight container before freezing.


How Long Does Condensed Milk Last?


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Julia Sudnitskaya/


Condensed milk, just like many other canned products, can last several years without spoilage. The expiration date talks more about the quality of the milk than general food safety. Therefore, condensed milk retains its quality for a long time as the cans serve as an extra means of preservation. This simply means that an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk will still retain its optimum quality two years past its expiration date. When stored properly, it could last as long as five years.

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The longer it stays, the lesser its quality in terms of taste and texture. However, for intact cans, it will still remain safe to use. Opened cans of condensed milk shouldn’t be kept for a long time. The leftovers may last for only about two weeks. Sweetened condensed milk last a few days longer than unsweetened condensed milk. Also, opened cans will only last long without spoilage when they are stored in tightly sealed airtight containers. Leaving it in its tin would give only about four days before it starts to give off a foul smell.


To sum it up, sweetened condensed milk, when unopened, can last as long as two years, while opened cans can last as long as two weeks at their best quality.


How Can You Tell If Condensed Milk Has Gone Bad?


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New Africa/


So, how can you tell when condensed milk has gone bad? The rules are different for opened and unopened cans. For an unopened tin of condensed milk, this can only go bad if it has been exposed to bacteria. As the container is a sterile environment, the chances of this happening are relatively low and mostly possible when they are not stored properly. It is almost impossible to open up a can of spoiled condensed milk. Therefore, to check if your condensed milk has gone bad, look out for a rusted or leaky can. Check for holes as well. Any can that is swelling or bulging, shows signs of rust, or has large dents in spots where it wasn’t present before should be discarded.

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An opened condensed milk should have a creamy yellowish color and flow freely from the can. If it is discolored in any way or gives off a sour smell, then it has gone bad. Another feature to check for is mold growth on the opened can. When it is not correctly stored, there will be noticeable signs of mold around the can. If the condensed milk seems good after checking for these signs and storing it for a maximum of 2 weeks, you can give it a taste. This will be the final check to determine if it belongs in the trash or can be added to your dessert.


Is It OK to Use Expired Condensed Milk?

It is OK to use expired condensed milk in your cooking. There is a high chance that it will be perfectly fine, as long as it is unopened. However, it is still best to perform the routine check, as discussed above, before use.


Related Questions

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Maria Popa Photo/

How Long Does Homemade Condensed Milk Last?

Homemade condensed milk can last for a few months when stored appropriately. As soon as it is prepared, transfer the homemade condensed milk to a clean airtight jar. This container must also have a tight-fitting lid. Then, store in a refrigerator or freezer. In a refrigerator, the homemade condensed milk will remain suitable for consumption for at least a week.

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On the other hand, it can retain its quality for as long as three months when stored in a freezer. To thaw your homemade condensed milk after it has been frozen for a long time, leave to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then, transfer into a different container where it should be whisked until it becomes smooth. You can also shake the milk vigorously while still in its airtight container.


What Can You Do with leftover Condensed Milk?

If you wish to use up your leftover condensed milk without storing for a long time, you can add it to hot chocolate, tea, or coffee. Condensed milk usually adds a touch of creaminess to any hot drink. Also, it has the advantage of being low in fat. It is also a great addition to homemade ice cream as it gives a smooth texture when you’re working with a non-milk base.


Can I substitute condensed milk for evaporated milk?

It is not advisable to substitute condensed milk for evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is the unsweetened version of this dairy product. It was produced by simmering fresh milk over low heat until a huge percentage of water had been removed. Therefore, evaporated milk is a thicker and creamier version. On the other hand, sweetened condensed milk is only boiled to about half of its normal content and sweetened with a generous amount of sugar. Instead of substituting one for the other, you can prepare your condensed milk in less than an hour. This simply involves heating a mixture of a can of evaporated milk and 1 ½ cups of sugar. As soon as the sugar is fully dissolved, your homemade condensed milk is ready for use.

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