Does Condensed Milk Go Bad?
Does Condensed Milk Go Bad?

Condensed milk is a product obtained by evaporating water from cow’s milk.

In the process of making condensed milk, sugar is usually added, and additional sugar works as a preservative, so you can buy sweetened condensed milk.

There is also available unsweetened condensed milk, but the terms “condensed milk” and “sweetened condensed milk” are mostly used as synonyms.

Store condensed milk comes in canes. It is thicker than regular milk, and it has the texture of chocolate syrup. It has great usage in the preparation of certain desserts or as a coffee supplement. 

Sugar content in sweetened condensed milk works as a preservative, as we mentioned, so sweetened condensed milk lasts longer.

It is perfectly safe to use for a week or two after you open the can, unlike regular milk, but of course, if you store it properly. An unopened tin of condensed milk has a long shelf life and lasts for years without spoiling.

Keeping in mind its long shelf life, one might wonder does condensed milk go bad? How to tell if your condensed milk is spoiled?

Can sweetened condensed milk go bad?

If you’re looking for the answer to the question does condensed milk go bad, unfortunately, the answer is yes. Like all other dairy products, condensed milk with added sugar can go bad too. 

While making condensed milk, milk passes the heating process, and all harmful bacteria are eliminated, which decreases the possibility of spoiling.

The addition of sugar in sweetened condensed milk makes it last for years if the package is unopen.

Sweetened condensed milk can go bad after a really long period of time (unopened can), or if it is not stored correctly after opening.

How can you tell if sweetened condensed milk is spoiled?

You can tell if sweetened condensed milk is spoiled by checking the following factors:

  • Color – Fresh condensed milk is usually pale, off-white, or yellowish. If the color of sweetened condensed milk goes darker, that is the sign that the product is spoiling. Some manufacturers claim that the dark color of condensed milk doesn’t mean it’s unsafe to use, but be careful.
  • Smell – Different smell is a strong sign that sweetened condensed milk is not good to use. It usually has a wonderfully sweet and milky aroma, while spoiled product smells sour and unpleasant.
  • Texture – Sweetened condensed milk is thick, but you can easily pour it from the container. If it’s too thick and doesn’t come out, or you see some lumps, condensed milk has gone bad.
  • Flavor – Fresh sweetened condensed milk has a sweet milky taste. If it tastes sour or stale, the product is spoiled.
  • Mold – If you see mold formations in your sweetened condensed milk, throw it away. It is not safe to use. Mold occurs when condensed milk is not stored properly.
  • Look at the can – If the can is damaged, rusty, or puffed, condensed milk has gone bad. The can should be a sterile environment that keeps the milk from contamination.

Does sweetened condensed milk need to be refrigerated?

There is no need to keep unopened condensed milk in the fridge. It can be put on the shelf of your pantry or usual food storage, at room temperature, just avoid direct sunlight.

Once opened sweetened condensed milk – leftover condensed milk should be kept in the refrigerator.

Sweetened condensed milk
Sweetened condensed milk has a thick and creamy texture (shutterstock.com)

You can save leftover condensed milk for up to two weeks in an airtight container (or covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil). They will be perfectly edible.

Don’t freeze sweetened condensed milk. Cold temperatures will cause fluid separation and frozen condensed milk won’t have the peak quality after you thawed condensed milk.

How long can you use sweetened condensed milk after the expiration date?

As we mentioned in the previous section, sweetened condensed milk shelf life is really long.

Unopened condensed milk can be used years after its printed expiration date. You can use it freely after a year or two, but in some cases, it is safe to use even five years after the “best by” date.

How long condensed milk will be good to use depends mostly on the way you store it – and store it refrigerated in an airtight container so it keeps its best quality.

Sweetened condensed milk can lose a little bit of its quality over a long period of time, but it will not be spoiled but is perfectly safe to use.

Can unsweetened condensed milk go bad?

Yes, unsweetened condensed milk can go bad, too.

There is a common misconception about unsweetened condensed milk, as there is no label with the term “unsweetened”.

That is simply evaporated milk or just condensed milk – canned cow milk that was simmered so it has less than 60% of water. It differs from sweetened condensed milk, mainly by its taste, as it does not contain added sugar.

Evaporated milk can go bad after its “best by” date or if it wasn’t stored the way it should be.

This milk should be kept in a cold and dark environment, not necessarily in the fridge if it is unopen. Shelf-life in that case will be 18 to 24 months. In most cases, unsweetened condensed milk will still be safe to use after this period of time.

Does condensed milk need to be refrigerated?

An unopened can of condensed milk does not need to be refrigerated, as long as you keep it in a cool and dry area.

Opened condensed milk should be kept in the refrigerator (best in an airtight container), because low temperatures will make condensed milk stays intact.

After you open it you can store it in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, but it should be continuously refrigerated.

Some manufacturers claim that their product is good to use up to 5 days once you open it.

Canned condensed milk
If the can of condensed milk is rusty, swollen or damaged, it is not safe to use (shutterstock.com)

Don’t keep opened condensed milk in the original can. Pour it into an airtight container and make sure it is sealed tightly.

Don’t freeze solid unsweetened condensed milk, either. Frozen condensed milk will be separating its fluids after thawing.

How long can you use condensed milk after the expiration date?

You can use condensed milk up to 6 months after its expiration date, but only if it is properly stored and unopened condensed milk.

On a can, you will see a label that says “Best before” or “Best if used by…” That doesn’t mean that the milk is spoiled after the date on the packaging, but that will remain its best quality up to that date.

Condensed milk can slightly change its texture and taste after the “Best before” date, but it will still be safe to use – if it was stored properly and if it can is undamaged.

How can you tell if condensed milk is bad?

The best way to know is it unsweetened condensed milk is safe to use is to look at the can, smell the milk and taste it.

Milk should have a mild milky taste and aroma.

Its texture should be smooth and without any lumps.

If it smell sour or has a musty taste – it is spoiled. If you see mold growth, lumps, or if the milk is too thick to come out of the can, that’s another sign that is bad.

Condensed milk is white, but if you see any discolorations – brown, green, or especially black color, the product is not good to use.

Also, throw away every can of milk that is leaking or it’s rusty or damaged.

Risk of Consuming Expired Condensed Milk

The majority of condensed milks stored with storage will last longer than the date of the commercial sale on some shelves. It was not recommended to consume your products if your items went off during storing. Those using this condensed milk can cause vomiting and possibly poison. Symptoms generally pass without treatment.

If the symptoms persist longer than 2 days, including nausea or vomiting, as well as an excess of body temperatures over 99.5 F (37c), you have to tell your physician. If you’re having diarrhea for at least two days, you should contact your doctor and see your physician’s report. If they become cracked or rusted or have never leaked.

Can homemade condensed milk go bad?

Homemade condensed milk is more susceptible to spoilage than store-bought, as it isn’t made in a sterile environment.

By simmering milk and sugar you’ll get homemade sweetened condensed milk, that is typically thick and syrupy like the one from the cans you buy in the store.

Once it is cooled down pack it in a clean airtight jar and put the closed container in the fridge. 

How can you tell if homemade condensed milk is bad?

Look it carefully, smell it and taste it.

If the milk changes its pale creamy color – turn brown, green, or black, it is not good to use. If you see mold formations – it is spoiled. It should have a milky creamy smell, but if it smells sour or stale, condensed milk has gone bad. The same goes for the taste.

How long can you use homemade condensed milk?

If it is kept correctly and properly sealed, homemade condensed milk will be good to use for about a week.

You can freeze it and save it for up to three months. It will be perfectly fine and edible, but freezing could change the product’s texture and lead to fluid separation.

If you choose to freeze it, leave it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw before you use it.