Evaporated milk is a popular alternative to fresh milk for cooking, baking, and drinking.
Evaporated milk is the most popular canned milk product, and its widespread popularity as an ingredient in many recipes is well justified.
Evaporated milk has good flavor and color and can be used without altering recipes for fresh whole milk.
It has similar properties to fresh full-fat milk but can be more convenient because it’s shelf-stable until opened.
The main difference between evaporated milk and powdered whole milk is the higher sugar content of the latter (which makes it sweeter).
If you don’t use evaporated milk very often, consider freezing it for long-term storage.
It won’t be quite as convenient because you’ll need to thaw before using it; however, if used in cooking or baking, it will still taste delicious and have the consistency you’re used to.
Also, don’t forget that any recipes you use with evaporated milk also work great with powdered whole milk.
This article will guide you through the steps to take for freezing evaporated milk, along with other tips and information you should know.
Evaporated Milk vs Condensed Milk
Let’s start with a brief overview of the major differences between these two products.
Condensed milk is made from whole milk that has been sweetened.
The result is extremely high in sugar, with a typical nutritional label value of 32g per 1 cup serving (based on a brand like Carnation).
In addition to being very high in sugar, condensed milk also isn’t shelf-stable until opened.
Once it’s opened, it must be refrigerated and consumed within a month.
When used in cooking, it is often added to recipes as they are being prepared; however, if cooked longer than intended, this milk can thicken quickly and become very sticky (especially at high temperatures).
The case for evaporated milk is much more positive.
It is made from partially-skimmed fresh milk that has been heated under a vacuum to evaporate 60 percent of its water.
It’s delicious, versatile, and a great choice for baking or cooking.
Its shelf-life is at least twice that of condensed milk, and it can be stored in the pantry until opened and then refrigerated.
It can be used in any recipe that calls for fresh whole milk; however, it may become thicker if baked or cooked too long than recipes assume.
Also, it contains no added sugar, and the natural sweetness comes from lactose sugars in the milk itself.
The flavor and consistency are identical, so they are interchangeable in recipes if you only have one on hand.
Does Freezing Affect Evaporated Milk?
The answer is yes, and this makes it a bit trickier to use in cooking and baking.
Evaporated milk doesn’t freeze solid like ice cream or frozen vegetables.
Instead, its texture changes somewhat but remains soft enough to use in recipes without alteration or reconstitution.
When freezing evaporated milk (and fresh whole milk), there are six changes in the product:
- Fluid concentration (water content) increases.
- Gases contract and a vacuum is created.
- Water forms ice crystals at microscopic levels causing separation of water from other components.
These changes make it more difficult for the evaporated milk to remain homogeneous once thawed.
You can expect some whey separation, a change in texture, and possibly even some chunky ice crystals.
These changes are normal and don’t affect the food safety of the evaporated milk; however, they do affect the appearance and texture.
This means that you should plan when using frozen evaporated milk as an ingredient in a recipe.
The best thing to do is to use it as a part of the cooking process, not just adding at the end.
This will help prevent some separation and retain its consistency through heating.
How to Freeze Evaporated Milk?
Freezing evaporated milk is a simple process, but there are some things you can do beforehand to make this easier.
Shake the container well before freezing.
This will redistribute any trapped air that would otherwise cause separation after freezing.
You may want to divide the contents into smaller containers or put them in a freezer bag for easier use later on.
Label and date the container when it is first frozen, so you know its age.
This will help you determine if your evaporated milk is safe to use or not once thawed.
You can also pour the evaporated milk into an ice-cube tray.
You can do this with all sizes, but try for 1/2 cup or even 1/4 cup portions if available.
Once frozen solid, transfer it to a large freezer bag and return to the freezer.
Mark the bag with the contents and date.
Though freezing evaporated milk will change its texture and consistency, it doesn’t make it unusable or unsafe.
It just means that you may want to add some extra to your recipe if cooked directly from frozen.
This will help offset the changes created by freezing.
How to Thaw Frozen Evaporated Milk?
To thaw frozen evaporated milk, place the container in the refrigerator and allow 24 hours for it to thaw fully.
Thawing in the microwave or on the counter is not recommended since these methods may cause changes in the consistency of your milk.
It will remain safe to use even if it becomes thick and gelatinous once thawed.
It’s just a texture thing, nothing more.
This isn’t harmful at all but does pose some issues for using it in recipes.
When thawed and ready to use, skim off any excess fat that may have risen to the top of your milk.
How to Use Thawed Evaporated Milk?
After your evaporated milk has thawed, there are a few things you can do to work around any texture issues.
Blend the evaporated milk in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.
This should take about 1 minute on high speed for one cup of milk.
Use it right away, or keep it refrigerated if you’re not using it all right away.
If you’re going to use this evaporated milk as the main ingredient in your meal or dessert, consider adding extra fat and sugar for better taste and texture.
Use it in place of regular milk for drinking, but you may need to adjust your recipe if the evaporated milk goes straight into a heated dish.
You can also add evaporated milk to canned cream soups and sauces when heating them.
This will allow it to blend in well without changing the consistency of your dish too much.
Once thawed, evaporated milk will typically keep for about 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
If you notice anything unusual or off-smelling, throw it away immediately.
How to Tell if Frozen Evaporated Milk is Bad?
If your evaporated milk is freezer burned and tastes a little funky, it’s probably bad.
You can identify freezer burn by its appearance, which is white, leathery spots on the surface of the evaporated milk.
It may also appear foggy or dimpled with small ice crystals.
It’s time to throw out your evaporated milk if any sour or bad smells come from it.
These could indicate bacteria growth, even if the milk doesn’t look spoiled.
You can also tell if evaporated milk is bad by its texture and consistency.
If the fat has hardened on top and isn’t smooth once blended, throw it out immediately.
Always check your food before you eat or serve it to others.
If you’re not sure, throw it out and get a new container.
You don’t want to risk getting sick from spoiled milk.
In conclusion, evaporated milk is an essential food in many recipes.
It can also be used for drinking and even baking.
You can freeze it safely, but there are some things you need to consider when thawing the milk.
You should always check your evaporated milk before using it.
Make sure that its consistency is still smooth and creamy once thawed, and throw out any spoiled or bad-smelling evaporated milk immediately.
Always remember to label your milk with the contents and date before you store it in your freezer; this way, you’ll know exactly what’s inside if needed.