The difference between milk and evaporated milk is that the latter has been heated until the majority of its water — about 60% — has, fittingly enough, evaporated. While the term might make you think it's some kind of powdery substance, evaporated milk is a decadently rich and creamy ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of recipes. You can add it to restaurant-worthy dips, sauces, soups, custards, desserts, and more. And while milk might only last a week in the refrigerator, unopened evaporated milk that is properly stored can last up to two years. But how can you tell when it's gone bad? In short, by looking at it. If your milk has turned dark yellow or brown, don't use it.
Two years is a long time, so if you can't remember how long you've had your evaporated milk, be extra cautious so you can avoid using an expired can. Don't just open it and add it to a recipe without thinking about how long it's been on the shelf; if you do, you may ruin your entire mixture and have to start over.
Other Was To Tell If Your Evaporated Milk Has Gone Bad
The first and best way to determine the state of your evaporated milk is to check the bottom of the can prior to opening — that's where the "Best if used by" information is usually stamped. However, this shouldn't be your sole criterion, as evaporated milk doesn't just turn bad within a 24-hour window. Once you open the can, use your senses to determine if the milk is safe for consumption.
Besides looking inside the can to evaluate the milk's color, you can also give it a quick sniff test. If the smell is off, that's yet another sign the can has spoiled. Also, short of tasting it, you can stir the contents to make sure the milk is still smooth. If it's lumpy, it's time to toss.
One last tip: Remember that evaporated milk and condensed milk are not the same. While evaporated milk is white and smooth, condensed milk is yellow and thick. If you don't keep this in mind, you may throw away a can of perfectly good condensed milk because of its golden color.
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