Is It Safe To Drink Evaporated Milk Straight From The Can?

Evaporated milk can be a bit of a mystery. It sounds like an old-fashioned product — and, technically, it is since it was invented in 1885 — but evaporated milk can still have a time and a place in your pantry. You just have to understand what it is and how to use it.

Let's say you want to use the can for the same main purpose as regular milk: drinking it. Is it safe to consume the evaporated version straight out of its container? While a dairy product that can last for over a year without refrigeration may sound a little suspect, it is completely safe to drink it plain — as long as it hasn't gone bad, of course. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says evaporated milk shouldn't go bad until at least six months after it's packaged.

Evaporated milk is simply regular milk that has been heated so that over half of its water content has evaporated. You end up with a condensed version of the dairy product (not to be confused with condensed milk, which is sweetened). Evaporated milk is sterilized and canned so it can last a long time on the shelf.

How to consume evaporated milk

So, now we know that evaporated milk is safe to drink from its container, but just because you can consume it this way doesn't necessarily mean you'll want to. Since evaporated milk is thick and creamy, the consistency will be completely different than a regular carton that you're used to. If you want to replicate the texture of the regular drink, mix the canned stuffed with about 1½ times as much water. You'll end up with a thinner beverage that you can pour into cereal bowls or smoothies or consume straight out of a glass. Just keep in mind that your drink might be a little sweeter than what you're used to since the evaporation process allows the sugars to caramelize a little.

Although you can transform your can into a somewhat normal glass of milk, feel free to also take advantage of its creamy consistency. For instance, it can be a great replacement for half and half, whole milk, or creamer in your morning coffee, and you can even add a dash to your smoothie or oatmeal without mixing it with water. The key here is typically to use less than you would with cow's milk since it's a much heavier product. But, if you have the urge to drink evaporated milk straight from the can, go right ahead; it's completely safe to do so.