Fans of coconut milk love its creamy texture and its distinct, tropical flavor that enhances both sweet and savory dishes. This versatile ingredient can be used in soups, curries, smoothies, desserts, and more. However, if you’re not used to buying coconut milk in cans, you might wonder how long it lasts and how to store it properly. In this article, we’ll uncover the secrets of canned coconut milk’s shelf life and give you some tips on how to make it last longer.
What is Canned Coconut Milk?
Canned coconut milk is a product that’s made by blending coconut meat and water, and then pressing the mixture to extract the rich liquid. Unlike cartons of coconut milk, canned coconut milk has a higher fat content and a thicker consistency, making it an ideal ingredient for cooking and baking. Most canned coconut milk products come in BPA-lined cans and are free from any added preservatives or artificial ingredients.
Canned Coconut Milk Expiration Dates and Shelf Life
Like any other food item, canned coconut milk has an expiration date, which indicates the period of time during which it’s safe to use and it has optimal quality. Typically, canned coconut milk has a shelf life of two to five years from the production date, depending on the brand and the storage conditions.
How to Read Date Codes on Canned Coconut Milk
Some canned coconut milks come with a date code printed on them, which can help you determine if the product is still fresh. The date code is usually a combination of letters and numbers that represents the production date and often includes the expiration date, as well. For example, a date code that reads FEB2920 would mean that the product was produced on February 29, 2020, and would expire two to five years after that date, depending on the brand and storage conditions.
Signs That Canned Coconut Milk Has Gone Bad
If canned coconut milk is past its expiration date, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s unsafe to use, but it might not have the same quality and flavor as a fresh product. However, if you notice any of the following signs, it’s best to discard the can:
- The can is bloated or leaking
- The coconut milk has clumps or chunks
- There’s a sour or off smell
- The color or texture is off
How to Store Canned Coconut Milk
Proper storage of canned coconut milk is critical to maintain the product’s freshness and flavor for as long as possible. Here are some tips:
Unopened Canned Coconut Milk
Store unopened canned coconut milk in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. The pantry or a kitchen cabinet is a good option. Avoid exposing the can to extreme temperatures, such as freezing or boiling, as this can affect the quality and texture of the product. Always check the expiration date before using.
Opened Canned Coconut Milk
If you don’t use the entire can of coconut milk, you can store the remaining portion in an airtight container in the fridge. Make sure to transfer the milk, along with any separation, into a separate container with a tight-fitting lid. Canned coconut milk can separate into two layers, and this separation is natural. To recombine the milk, simply stir or whisk it before using. Opened canned coconut milk can last in the fridge for up to a week or so, but it’s best to use it as soon as possible to avoid spoilage.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Canned Coconut Milk
If you want to make your canned coconut milk last longer, there are a few things you can do:
Freezing Canned Coconut Milk
Yes, you can freeze canned coconut milk! Freezing canned coconut milk is an excellent way to extend its shelf life and save money. To freeze, simply transfer the milk to an airtight container or a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and label with the date of freezing. Frozen canned coconut milk can last up to six months in the freezer. To thaw, place the container in the fridge overnight, or submerge it in a bowl of cold water.
Cooking with Coconut Milk Powder
Coconut milk powder is a convenient alternative to canned coconut milk, and it has a longer shelf life. To use, simply mix the powder with hot water to make coconut milk at the desired consistency. Coconut milk powder is also lightweight and portable, making it ideal for camping or traveling.
Using Sterilized Containers
If you like to make your own coconut milk, you can store it in sterilized glass jars or bottles. To sterilize the container, boil it in water for 10 minutes, then let it air-dry upside down on a clean towel. Homemade coconut milk might not last as long as canned coconut milk, so it’s best to make it in small batches and consume it within a few days.
FAQs about Canned Coconut Milk Shelf Life
Here are some common questions about canned coconut milk and their answers:
- Can you use canned coconut milk after the expiration date?
- How long does opened canned coconut milk last?
- Can you freeze canned coconut milk?
- What can you make with canned coconut milk?
- Is canned coconut milk gluten-free?
Yes, you can, as long as the product doesn’t show any signs of spoilage, such as bad smell, color, or texture. However, the flavor and quality might not be optimal.
Once opened, canned coconut milk can last in the fridge for up to a week. Make sure to transfer it to an airtight container and use it as soon as possible.
Yes, you can freeze canned coconut milk. To freeze, transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer-safe Ziploc bag and label with the date of freezing.
You can make a variety of dishes with canned coconut milk, such as curries, soups, stews, smoothies, sauces, and desserts. It’s a versatile ingredient that adds a rich, tropical flavor to any recipe.
Most canned coconut milk products are gluten-free. However, it’s always best to check the label to make sure.
Now that you know how long canned coconut milk lasts and how to store it properly, you can enjoy this delicious ingredient in your cooking and baking for months to come.