When it comes to milk, as with most things dairy, the best way to tell if it has gone bad is, yes, you guessed it, to look for any changes visually.
A change in color is one of the first noticeable changes to occur. Sweetened condensed milk should be light cream or ‘off white’ in color, but over time it will become darker and more yellow.
A change in the texture of the condensed milk is another key thing to look out for. While sweetened condensed milk is typically thick, the consistency is such that you can still be able to pour it out of its container (though not as runny as normal milk), sort of in an oozing manner.
If you are no longer able to pour the condensed milk out of its container and it appears to have lumps in it, it has likely gone bad and as such should not be consumed. Yet another sure sign that you can tell by just looking at the milk is the presence of mold.
This presence of mold on the milk is oftentimes brought about due to a lack of proper storage. If you spot any mold on the milk, at no point should it be consumed.
The state of the can or container may also be a telltale sign as to the freshness of the milk. If the can has any sign of bulging, either at the top or on the sides, you may want to discard the can and should not risk any adverse reactions of consuming the spoilt condensed milk. The same goes if the can is leaking, severely dented, rusting, or has holes in it.
Resorting to your sense of smell may also help determine whether or not a can of sweetened condensed milk has gone bad.
While sweetened condensed milk has this sweet, creamy smell (almost like caramel), if you take a good old whiff off of the can and get a sour, unpleasant or generally off smell coming from the condensed milk, it may be time to throw it out.
The shelf life of sweetened condensed milk.
If your sweetened condensed milk is store bought, as long as the can remains unopened, storing it in a cool and dry area, away from direct sunlight and other sources of heat should do the trick.
An unopened can of sweetened condensed milk can last while stored in the pantry for up to one year past its ‘best by’ date.
Homemade sweetened condensed milk on the other hand should definitely be stored in the refrigerator once it has cooled after being prepared.
However, once opened, a can of store bought sweetened condensed milk should either be used to completion or any leftover be kept in the refrigerator. Since resealing an opened can prove to be near impossible, it would be wise to transfer any leftover sweetened condensed milk into a resealable airtight container.
If you do not have one in your kitchen, you could opt to use plastic wrap or aluminum foil and a rubber band (keep in mind that this option will only suffice for a few days). Generally, the shelf life of refrigerated sweetened condensed milk greatly depends to a great extent on the nature and manner of storage.
Provided the leftover condensed milk is properly sealed and continuously refrigerated, it can last for up to two weeks at most.
Can you freeze sweetened condensed milk?
Well, to put it simply, that method of preservation does not come highly recommended. This is due to its high sugar content, the milk when frozen, will not freeze solid and will separate. The milk will later become watery when thawed.
Once that happens, homogenizing it back to its original texture just will not happen no matter how vigorously you shake, stir or even blend. However, if you do not mind the slight alteration, freeze away.
This will keep the sweetened condensed milk in mint condition for up to three months. Remember that you should not refreeze the condensed milk. Since sweetened condensed milk is often sold in cans, a container that is not ideal for freezing you will have to transfer the milk into a freezer safe container that is also resealable and airtight.
I would suggest dividing any leftover sweetened condensed milk into smaller portions prior to freezing in order to make it more manageable. This way, defrosting becomes less of a headache. It would also do you good to label each resealable container of sweetened condensed milk as you place them in the freezer.
When freezing, remember to not fill the container to the brim. You need to allow the condensed milk room to expand as it freezes. If you are using a resealable plastic bag, make sure to remove the excess air in the bag before sealing.
It is important to note that the temperature in the freezer needs to remain constant and steady. If possible, consume your supply of frozen sweetened condensed milk as soon as possible in order to get the best flavor from it.
Is sweetened condensed milk safe to use after its expiration date?
Yes, it is. Commercially canned sweetened condensed milk will typically carry a ‘sell by’ date. This is simply an estimate by the manufacturer as to how long the sweetened condensed milk will remain at peak quality.
This is provided the sweetened condensed milk has been stored properly, the unopened can is not damaged and there are no noticeable signs of spoilage in the milk once you have opened the can.
This is also provided that the expiration date has not passed by a significant amount of time, say a whole year.
What happens if I ingest spoiled sweetened condensed milk?
First, I would not advise you to consume spoiled sweetened condensed milk (yes, even if there was a sale at your local supermarket and you stocked up but somehow forgot about some cans that you still have laying around and you just don’t want to waste any).
Eating spoiled sweetened condensed milk could expose you to more or less the same dangers that you would experience from consuming sour or turned milk. These include; stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea or a low-grade fever.
These symptoms tend to be fairly mild and should pass on their own without treatment. However, you will want to ensure that you remain hydrated (this is especially if you experience a lot of throwing up or have diarrhea).
However, if any of the symptoms present more severely and last for a longer amount of time (this could mean a fever above 37 degrees Celsius or vomiting and diarrhea that lasts longer than two days), you may need to seek medical attention as soon as possible since these are signs that you might have a more serious infection.
What can you do with leftover sweetened condensed milk?
Nobody would want to waste even a drop of this delicious goodness so here are a couple of ways that you can utilize any remainder of an opened can of sweetened condensed milk:
Add some flavor to your coffee or even tea.
Just bake another tasty treat
The surest way to make sure you don’t waste any of that creamy sweetness that is condensed milk is to go ahead and bake another treat. Who wouldn’t want twice the tasty, twice the treat?
Go the savory way
Whoever said that sweetened condensed milk is just for dessert was seriously missing out on life. When making the marinade for pork or even chicken, adding a tablespoon or two to it would work just as well as sugar would. A plus would be to use it in a dish that has coconut in it.
Add it to ice cream
If you are a huge fan of doing it yourself, sweetened condensed milk adds an extra level of oomph to any homemade ice cream, especially when you’re working with a non-milk base (like coconut).
Go crazy and prepare Dulce de Leche
Dulce de Leche is a South American confectionary. This particular one is one that has been cooked down until the color and consistency has changed to that of caramel sauce or even butterscotch.
Dulce de Leche is both sweet and fatty. Since sweetened condensed milk is halfway to dulce de leche already anyway, all you need to do is give it a slight nudge along toward fulfilling its destiny (lol).
This process can be as simple as just gently simmering the condensed milk on very low heat in a saucepan until it becomes dark and thick just like butterscotch.
Pour it on Literally Anything
Okay, no kidding, sweetened condensed milk is very versatile, and there are very few things you wouldn’t put it on.
Take for instance a quick dessert during the summertime, toss some fruits like peaches or apricots with a tablespoon or so of sweetened condensed milk, proceed to bake in a low-heat oven until the fruits have caramelized. It can also be added to crunchy toast.