If you are into baking, you are probably familiar with evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is really an awesome ingredient, but sometimes we can’t use up all of the milk in a can opened. Especially if you cook and bake in small batches, this is a common problem.
While milk might not be the ideal thing to freeze, evaporated milk is a lot different in that reward. Namely, evaporated milk contains much less water than milk (obviously). Around 60% of the water gets evaporated from the milk, which creates the unique creamy texture of the product. Evaporated milk is also quite low in fat. All of this makes it a versatile ingredient for low-fat baking.
Tips for Freezing Evaporated Milk
Since evaporated milk is usually canned, there are basically two cases when you might want to freeze evaporated milk (see also Freezing Coconut Milk). First of all, you might have a pile of evaporated milk cans in your pantry and might be worried you won’t be able to use them up before they expire. Although these cans have a very long shelf life, they do eventually expire. The other situation where freezing can help is when you open a can of evaporated milk but can’t use it all.
In both cases, the process of freezing will actually be the same.That’s because cans are really not the most freezer-friendly container. So, in any case, you’ll need to open your can of evaporated milk and transfer the contents into a container that’s more freezer-friendly.
To freeze evaporated milk simply open the can and pour the milk into a freezer-friendly container. You want the lid to be air-tight and the container should preferably not be transparent (although that’s not a deal breaker). Make sure to not fill the container all the way up to the top – make sure to leave a couple of inches of space. Even though the water content of evaporated milk is much lower than in regular milk, it is still liquid which means it will expand when frozen (hence the space you left at the top ensures this will be possible).
So, once you are ready to throw your condensed milk (see also Freezing Sweetened Condensed Milk) into the freezer, all you need to do is put the lid on the container. For best results, you might want to cover the top with plastic wrap first, and then close with a lid. This way, you ensure that the container remains airtight, which will prevent weird smells from other things in your freezer from seeping into your frozen milk.
As always, make sure to put a label on the container stating the date when you froze the evaporated milk. You might think you will remember, but we assure you, once a couple of months has passed, you will most likely have no idea how old this container of evaporated milk is.
Another possibility is freezing evaporated milk in ice cube trays. If you often need small amounts of evaporated milk – weather for baking or as an addition to a warm drink, for example, then freezing in ice cube trays could be a great idea. This way, you don’t need to thaw a whole bunch of condensed milk when you need it – just take an ice cube or three out and you’re ready! To maximize the shelf life of the frozen cubes, you might want to place them in an airtight container once frozen.
Evaporated Milk and Storage
Evaporated milk is one of the ideal ‘doomsday items’. Meaning, you can store it in your pantry almost indefinitely. That’s why evaporated milk is also often bought in bulk. To make sure you avoid wasting your supply, it’s best to check the expiration dates on each and every can. That way, you can make sure to use them up in logical order. If you realize you won’t be able to use up all of the milk before it expires, freeze some of it to extend its shelf life for a couple of extra months.
Even though the canned milk is pretty resistant to outside conditions, it is still best to keep your cans in a cool, dry place. Mind you, not so cool that it’s freezing – cans have a tendency to crack if placed in the freezer, that’s why we recommended putting the milk into a more freezer-friendly container before freezing.
However, cans aren’t indestructible either. If you notice they are bulging or leaking, it’s probably best to throw the faulty can of milk out.
Once opened, evaporated milk should be treated pretty much the same as regular milk. It can stay in the fridge for a couple of days or up to a week, but make sure to do a smell test before you use it. Keep the container sealed to avoid compromising the flavor of your evaporated milk.
Evaporated Milk Shelf Life
Although it freezes well, evaporated milk won’t last indefinitely in the freezer. It is usually recommended to use it up within 3 months of freezing. For the best quality, use your frozen evaporated milk as soon as possible. However, you don’t really have to throw it out at the 3 months mark. If it looks and smells fine after thawing, it’s probably fine to use.
When it comes to thawing evaporated milk, there are a couple of options. If you are using it for cooking, you probably won’t even need to thaw it, especially if you’ve frozen it in small portions (like ice cube trays, for example). You can simply use it straight from the freezer. However, if you need to divide the portions, or your recipe calls for room-temperature condensed milk, then you will need to thaw it. Since evaporated milk is still dairy and hence prone to spoiling, we don’t recommend leaving it out on the counter. A better method is thawing in the fridge. All you need to do is transfer the milk from the freezer into the fridge the night before you plan to use it – or around 8 to 12 hours.