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Canned Milk Types - Shelf Life of Canned Milk

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Preserved liquid milk comes in a number of forms, none of which are very similar to each other. The most common forms of these packaged milks are as follows:

CANNED MILKS: These are commonly called UHT milks (Ultra High Temperature) for the packaging technique used to put them up. They come in the same varieties as fresh liquid milks: Whole, 2%, 1% and skim. I've even found whipping cream in UHT packaging (Grand Chef - Parmalat), though this may be offered only in the commercial and restaurant trade. In the U.S. they all have vitamin D added. The lesser fat content milks do not keep as long as whole milk and their use by dates are correspondingly shorter term. This milk is packaged in aseptic containers, either cans or laminated paper cartons. It has the same composition as fresh milk of the same type, and can be stored at room temperature because of the special pasteurizing process used. The milk has a boiled flavor, but much less than evaporated milk. The dates are usually for approximately six months. The milk is still usable past its date, but the flavor soon begins to go stale and the cream separates. I am told by a friend who lived in Germany not long after this kind of canned milk began to come on the market there that they were dated for a year.

With a six-month shelf life this type of canned milk naturally requires a much faster rotation cycle than other types. The only brand name for non-flavored milk I've seen is Parmalat. Several companies sell flavored milks (chocolate, etc.) in this packaging, usually in the smaller single-serving sizes. Parmalat makes excellent yogurt, losing the boiled taste.

EVAPORATED: This is made from fresh, unpasteurized whole milk. A vacuum-heating process removes 60% of the water; the concentrate is heated, homogenized, and in the States, vitamin D is added. It is then canned and heated again to sterilize the contents. It may also have other nutrients and chemical stabilizers added. A mixture of one part water and one part evaporated milk will have about the same nutritional value of an equal amount of fresh milk. There is generally no date or use by code on evaporated milk. It does not taste like fresh milk but most do not find the flavor to be disagreeable. Both whole and skim milk varieties are available with the higher fat content type having the best storage life.

Health and nutrition food stores often carry canned, evaporated goat's milk, in a similar concentration.

SWEETENED CONDENSED: This milk goes through much less processing than evaporated milk. It starts with pasteurized milk combined with a sugar solution. The water is then extracted until the mixture is less than half its original weight. It is not heated because the high sugar content prevents spoilage. It's very high in calories, too: 8 oz has 980 calories. Obviously with a greatly reduced water content and a high sugar level it won't taste like fresh milk but it condensed milk has many uses in cooking. This type too is available in whole and skim varieties.

Although it is often hard to find, the label has a stamped date code which indicates the date by which it should be consumed. Sweetened, condensed milk may thicken and darken as it ages, but it is still edible.

C.1.1 SHELF LIFE OF CANNED MILKS

Unopened cans of evaporated milk can be stored on a cool, dry shelf for up to six months. Canned milk (UHT) should be stored till the stamped date code on the package (3 - 6 months). Check the date on sweetened, condensed milk for maximum storage.


Misc.Survivalism FAQs maintained by Alan T. Hagan, athagan@sprintmail.com
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