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What color is expired condensed milk?

Condensed milk is a versatile dairy product used in many desserts and recipes. It is made by removing about 60% of the water from fresh milk, which makes it thicker and creamier. Condensed milk comes in sweetened and unsweetened varieties, with the sweetened kind being more common. Due to its high sugar content, condensed milk has a long shelf life unopened but does eventually expire. When condensed milk goes bad, its color and texture change noticeably. This article will examine how to tell if condensed milk is expired by looking at its appearance, smell, and taste. We’ll also discuss how long condensed milk lasts and proper storage methods to maximize its shelf life.

What Is Condensed Milk?

Condensed milk is milk that has been condensed by evaporating roughly 60% of its water content. This thick, syrupy milk product is shelf-stable and used in many recipes, both sweet and savory. The two main types of condensed milk are:

Sweetened condensed milk – This is made by adding sugar to condensed milk. The high sugar content acts as a preservative, allowing sweetened condensed milk to be shelf-stable for months. Brands like Eagle Brand and Borden are common sweetened condensed milks.

Unsweetened condensed milk – Also labeled “evaporated milk”, this has no added sugar. It is less shelf-stable than sweetened condensed milk and requires refrigeration after opening. Common brands are Nestlé Carnation and Pet Milk.

Both types of condensed milk lend a creamy, milky flavor to recipes and desserts. Sweetened condensed milk is very thick and pours slowly from the can, while evaporated milk is a bit thinner in texture. Condensed milk is used to make dulce de leche, key lime pie, coconut candies, and more.

How Long Does Condensed Milk Last?

The shelf life of condensed milk depends on whether it is opened or unopened:

Unopened condensed milk – Can last 6-12 months past the “best by” date printed on the can. Sweetened condensed milk has a longer shelf life, up to 1-2 years past its best by date because of the high sugar content.

Opened condensed milk – Should be used within 5-7 days. Once exposed to air, condensed milk can spoil more quickly from bacterial growth. Refrigeration extends the shelf life of opened cans for up to 2-3 weeks.

The expiration date is an indication of when the condensed milk will start declining in quality and freshness. As long as it is stored properly and the can is not damaged, unopened condensed milk may still smell and taste normal several weeks past its printed date. However, its texture and flavor quality will slowly degrade over time.

How to Store Condensed Milk

To get the longest shelf life and avoid premature spoilage, condensed milk should be stored:

Unopened – In a cool, dry pantry away from direct sunlight. Avoid storage areas that get hot like near the oven or in the garage. Heat can accelerate spoilage.

Opened – In an airtight container in the refrigerator. Keep leftovers chilled at 40°F or below. Evaporated milk should always be refrigerated since it’s less shelf-stable.

Proper storage keeps condensed milk fresher for longer. High heat, direct sunlight, and humid conditions will shorten its shelf life considerably. Never freeze unopened cans of condensed milk as this can cause the can to expand and burst.

How to Tell If Condensed Milk Is Expired

Here are the main signs that condensed milk has gone bad:

Sour smell – Fresh condensed milk has a slightly sweet, creamy smell while expired condensed milk gives off a distinct sour odor. This spoilage scent is caused by bacteria growth.

Lumpy texture – Instead of being uniformly thick and creamy, expired condensed milk will be grainy and lumpy with clots of solids throughout. This indicates the milk proteins have deteriorated.

Off-color – Over time, condensed milk tends to darken from a light cream color to a yellowish hue. If the color changes to pink, orange, grey, green or other unnatural shades, it is definitely expired.

Mold growth – If you see fuzzy mold growing on opened condensed milk, toss it. This is a clear indication it has spoiled from excess air exposure. Don’t take chances with mold.

Curdled look – Bad condensed milk will appear curdled and separated with clear whey pooling on the surface. Fresh condensed milk should be smooth and uniform.

Always do a visual check for signs of spoilage before using condensed milk. If it smells or looks questionable, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it out. Expired condensed milk can make you sick, so relying on sight, smell and touch is key.

What Color Is Expired Condensed Milk?

As condensed milk starts to go bad, it will turn from creamy white or light yellow to an orange, pink, grey, greenish or yellowish hue. This color change happens as the proteins and fats deteriorate. Here are the colors you may see:

Pale yellow or orange – This indicates the early stages of expired condensed milk. It is starting to naturally oxidize and darken with age but may still be safe if it doesn’t smell bad.

Pink or grey – These unnatural colors mean the condensed milk has gone rancid and should be discarded. Greyish milk is a clear sign of microbial spoilage.

Neon yellow or green – Bright, fluorescent hues are a red flag for mold contamination. Toss out any condensed milk with strange glowing colors.

Dark brown – Once condensed milk starts to turn brown, it is well past expired and potentially harmful if consumed. The original color has fully deteriorated.

While an off white or pale yellow may be safe, anything more discolored has likely spoiled. Remember, if it looks or smells bad, expired condensed milk is better to be thrown out than risk getting sick from it. Don’t consume condensed milk past its prime.

How Long Does Opened Condensed Milk Last in the Fridge?

Once opened, condensed milk will last 5-7 days in the refrigerator before going bad. To maximize the shelf life of opened condensed milk:

– Transfer contents to an airtight container and refrigerate immediately after opening. Don’t let it sit out.

– Check for signs of spoilage like off-colors, sour smell, curdling, or mold after 5 days.

– Use within one week for highest quality and freshness.

– Don’t return leftover condensed milk to the original can. This introduces new bacteria and speeds spoilage.

– Mark the date opened on the storage container for reference.

– Keep refrigerated at 40°F or below. The colder the temperature, the longer it lasts.

With proper refrigeration, opened condensed milk can stay fresh for up to 2-3 weeks past the initial use by date. But its quality slowly declines over time. For best flavor and texture, use refrigerated condensed milk within 7-10 days.

Can You Save Expired Condensed Milk?

Unfortunately, there is no way to rescue condensed milk once it has expired and shows signs of spoilage. The proteins and sugars have already started deteriorating, allowing for potentially dangerous bacteria growth.

Some attempts to save expired condensed milk include:

– Boiling – This stops mold growth but doesn’t eliminate toxins from bacteria. Boiling also changes the milk’s flavor and appearance.

– Adding vinegar or lemon juice – Acidifiers slow microbial growth temporarily but cannot reverse spoilage. The condensed milk still should not be consumed.

– Freezing – Freezing cannot make expired milk safe to eat again. It will extend shelf life slightly but not reverse the chemical changes of spoiled milk.

– Cooking it – Using rancid condensed milk in baked goods or other cooked foods is still unsafe. Toxins cannot be destroyed through cooking temperatures.

Once condensed milk smells bad, changes color, or appears curdled, it is past the point of rescue. The bacteria has metastasized and produced harmful byproducts. At that point, it’s better to be safe than risk foodborne illness. Always toss expired condensed milk products.

Common Uses for Condensed Milk

Despite its limited fridge life after opening, condensed milk is a handy ingredient to have. Here are some common ways it is used:

Desserts – Condensed milk is often used in pies, cakes, cookies, candies, ice cream, and puddings. It lends a signature creamy texture and sweet flavor.

Coffee drinks – Adding a dollop of condensed milk to coffee, tea, or hot chocolate makes a sweeter, creamier beverage. It’s very popular in Southeast Asian coffee culture.

Sauces and curries – Evaporated milk balances spicy heat and thickens the consistency of savory sauces. It is commonly used in Thai and Indian cooking.

Frostings and fillings – A simple fluffy frosting can be whipped up by whipping condensed milk. It also makes a great pie filling on its own or with fruits added.

Homemade dulce de leche – Simmering an unopened can of condensed milk makes thick, gooey dulce de leche that’s perfect for drizzling over desserts.

With its versatility, condensed milk can elevate both sweet and savory dishes. Just be sure to store it properly in the fridge between uses and discard if expired. Properly stored, condensed milk can stay fresh for a surprisingly long time.

Common Brands of Condensed Milk

Some of the most popular and widely available brands of condensed milk include:

Eagle Brand – This is one of the most recognized condensed milk brands in America. Founded in the 1800s, Eagle Brand makes shelf-stable sweetened condensed milk.

Borden – Another longtime American brand, Borden Eagle Brand also produces sweetened condensed milk along with evaporated milk.

Nestlé Carnation – Founded in 1899, Carnation was acquired by Nestlé and produces many canned milk products including evaporated milk.

Pet Milk – Pet Inc. was founded in 1885 and is now also owned by Nestlé. Their evaporated milk comes in convenient easy-open cans.

Nestlé La Lechera – This sweetened condensed milk brand has been popular in Latin America since the 1950s.

Goya – Known for Latin American food products, Goya makes both sweetened and unsweetened condensed milk options.

These major brands can be found in any supermarket, ensuring condensed milk is always on hand for recipes that call for it. Less common regional condensed milk brands may also be available in some areas.

Nutrition Facts for Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is high in calories and rich in certain vitamins and minerals. Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 1⁄3 cup (85g) serving of sweetened condensed milk (per USDA):

Calories – 380

Fat – 8g

Saturated fat – 5g

Carbohydrates – 58g

Sugar – 58g

Protein – 9g

Calcium – 404mg

Vitamin A – 382IU

Vitamin D – 120IU

As you can see, just a small serving of condensed milk packs a whopping 58g of sugar, meeting almost the daily recommended limit. The sugar masks the tart flavor of fresh milk and acts as a natural preservative.

Despite the high calories and carbs, condensed milk does contain higher amounts of calcium and vitamins A and D compared to regular milk. Still, it should be enjoyed in moderation due to the very high sugar content per serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does condensed milk need to be refrigerated?

Unopened, shelf-stable condensed milk does not need refrigeration. Once opened, it should be stored in the fridge and used within 5-7 days for food safety. Refrigeration isn’t needed for unopened cans.

Can you substitute condensed milk for regular milk?

Not directly. Condensed milk has a much thicker, richer consistency and higher sugar content. Thin it with water or milk to equal the consistency of regular milk. For sweets, you can often substitute condensed milk 1:1 for fresh milk.

Is condensed milk just thickened milk?

Essentially yes. Condensed milk starts with regular pasteurized milk that has about 60% of the water content evaporated away. This makes it nearly double the consistency of milk. Sugars are also added to sweetened condensed varieties.

Does condensed milk curdle?

Yes, expired condensed milk will take on a curdled look as the proteins deteriorate and it spoils. Fresh condensed milk may also curdle if boiled or mixed with highly acidic foods. Properly stored, it should remain uniformly smooth and creamy.

Can condensed milk be frozen?

You should never freeze unopened cans of condensed milk as they may swell and burst. Leftover opened condensed milk can be frozen for up to 3 months with little quality loss. Thaw in the fridge before using again.


Identifying expired condensed milk is an important kitchen skill. Discoloration, sour odor, curdling, and mold growth are telltale signs condensed milk has spoiled and should be discarded. While unopened cans stay fresh for up to a year, opened condensed milk only lasts about one week in the fridge. Storing condensed milk properly helps prevent premature spoilage. Thanks to its versatile culinary uses, condensed milk is a handy staple ingredient to keep stocked for making all kinds of delicious treats. Just remember to rely on your senses to check for freshness and use refrigerated condensed milk promptly. With the proper storage and handling, condensed milk can elevate both sweet and savory recipes long after opening.