Why You Shouldn't Store Coconut Milk In The Can

Creamy and oh-so-dreamy, coconut milk is the pearly nectar that comes from — you guessed it — coconuts. While not everyone lives in a tropical, coconut-bearing region, canned milk is super accessible to anyone and everyone. Easily added to smoothies, stews, and curries, not all recipes call for an entire can of liquid. And although you might be tempted to store as is, you definitely shouldn't leave leftover coconut milk in the can. 

Unlike coconut water that's extracted from a young coconut, MasterClass explains that coconut milk is actually the product of blending together mature coconut meat with water and then wringing through a cheesecloth. Regardless of whether it's homemade or commercially produced, coconut milk has a thick and luxuriously buttery texture and a slightly sweet and almost nutty flavor to match. Just a splash can go a long way, which is why you need to know how to manage excess milk, especially to ensure quality.

Cans might impact the flavor of coconut milk

The main concern over storing food in its can is the potential for chemical exposure. Scientific American explains that cans are often lined with food-grade epoxy to avoid trace metals from dissolving into food. However, some of these liners have included the endocrine-disrupting Bisphenol-A (BPA). Epicurious reports that currently, many tins are actually BPA-free and recent studies have proved that leaching wouldn't happen unless overly acidic foods were left in the can for several years. 

So what's the real risk in keeping coconut milk in the can? While it's fairly safe to store it in the tin, quality takes a serious hit. According to The Kitchn, storing coconut milk in its tin may greatly impact the flavor. Distracting from its rich and floral taste, it'll develop an overly metallic taste. Additionally, it could affect texture since it's harder to properly seal the container.

Rather than covering a can with plastic wrap, the USDA instead recommends transferring leftovers to an airtight glass or plastic container. Canned coconut milk will last about five days, but Food52 notes that if it starts to separate, change color or smell rancid, it might be past its prime.