Food preservation

Can Canned Evaporated Milk Go Bad? Here’s How to Tell

Canned evaporated milk is a useful product to keep in the grocery cupboard. It can be mixed with water and used in place of fresh milk and has become a popular ingredient in many recipes. The real dilemma results from the old can of evaporated milk left in the back of the cupboard for years. People often wonder if such an old can is still viable and if canned evaporated milk can go bad.

Canned evaporated milk can go bad, especially if the integrity of the can has been compromised or the can has been exposed to heat. If pathogens or oxygen gain entry into the can, the evaporated milk will go bad. Opened cans of evaporated milk will go bad quickly unless refrigerated.

Many people want to know how long cans of evaporated milk can be kept before throwing them out as unusable. This is not as black and white as it may first seem, and many factors must be considered.

Does Canned Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

Canned evaporated milk is designed to preserve the shelf-life of milk, allowing it to stay safe for consumption long after regular milk would be bad. Although evaporation and canning preserve the milk, it is possible for it to go bad.

Evaporated milk is produced by removing approximately sixty percent of the moisture or water from milk. This is done by heating the milk, which begins the process of killing pathogens.

The canning process also involves heat and destroys any remaining pathogens. The can is sealed, preventing it from coming into contact with microbes that would comprise the milk or cause it to go off. The milk is sealed and does not come into contact with oxygen, which ordinarily would start the decomposition process.

Around the world, food safety councils do not require manufacturers to provide expiry dates for canned evaporated milk as it is extremely difficult to determine. Instead, most manufacturers mark the cans with a ‘best before’ date.

The ‘best before’ date is assessed by manufacturers that keep cans studying the evaporated milk as it ages. The color, taste, and nutritional content gradually deteriorate, allowing manufacturers to decide when the milk is too altered to be enjoyed by consumers. Most evaporated milk manufacturers have a ‘best before’ date of fifteen to twenty-four months after canning.

Despite the preservation of evaporated milk, it is possible for it to go bad.

Tin can with evaporated milk on grey background

What Makes Canned Evaporated Milk Go Bad?

The most common cause of bad evaporated milk is damage to the can. Once the can’s integrity is altered, the evaporated milk may go bad even if it was canned only a short time ago.

Cans are made from various metals, but they all have an inner lining that prevents the evaporated milk from coming into contact with the metal. If the can is dented, there is a strong possibility that the inner lining is compromised.

Once the evaporated milk comes into contact with the metal, chemical processes begin, which change the structure of the milk. This causes the milk to go bad, and it should not be consumed as it is a health risk.

If a can is dented, it may allow bacteria to grow in the evaporated milk, making it a health hazard. If there were abnormalities in the canning process, the evaporated milk might have been compromised during the canning.

Canned evaporated milk kept in climates with high temperatures will spoil quickly. Oregon State University notes that temperatures of 100°F or higher rapidly increase the rate at which canned food will spoil.

What Are The Signs That Canned Evaporated Milk Is Bad?

If the can is swollen, it indicates that the evaporated milk has produced gas and is bad. Rusted cans of evaporated milk are probably bad, as rust compromises the integrity of the metal. It may have influenced the interior lining causing the evaporated milk to come into contact with the metal.

Evaporated milk that smells bad or has an unusual taste should not be used. It is usually yellowish-white, but it is unsafe if the evaporated milk is an abnormal color. Lumps in the evaporated milk indicate chemical changes, making it unsuitable for consumption.

If gas is emitted as the can is opened, there is decomposition, and the evaporated milk will be bad. If milk is bubbling out of the can or if there are bubbles in the evaporated milk when it is opened, do not use it.

It is essential to store cans of evaporated milk in cool places. If you live in a hot climate where summer temperatures soar, it is best to use canned evaporated milk relatively quickly.

If you see green, blue, or brown discoloration in canned evaporated milk, it is contaminated with mold and should not be used. Mold is extremely unhealthy, and the milk should be discarded safely.

Does Skimmed Evaporated Milk Go Bad Quicker?

Skimmed evaporated milk does not last as long as full-fat evaporated milk. Skimmed milk’s fat and sugar content is lower, making it harder to preserve. Manufacturers generally recommend that skimmed evaporated milk is viable for three to four months less than regular evaporated milk.

Does Evaporated Milk In A Can Or Carton Last Longer?

Most evaporated milk is canned, but some manufacturers produce it in cartons. Cartons are more liable to damage during handling than cans. Cartons of evaporated milk usually have an expiry date indicating that they do not last as long as cans.

How Long Can Opened Evaporated Milk Be Kept?

Evaporated milk should be removed from the can once opened. It can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for approximately three to five days after opening.

Evaporated milk kept at room temperature should be used within two to three hours. High environmental temperatures will shorten the safety period for evaporated milk outside the refrigerator.


Canned evaporated milk can go bad if there is an error in manufacturing or the can is damaged. It is usually safe to consume up to two years after canning, but it may be much longer in some cases. Canned evaporated milk does not last forever, but it is a good way of extending the shelf-life of milk.


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