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Oct 7, 2012 08:44 PM

Baking with Sweetened Condensed milk... do you need to refrigerate?

Do you need to refrigerate bar cookies that were already baked.. but contain sweetened condensed milk?

Thanks for your help. Online I found both 'yes' answers and 'no' answers...

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  1. It would depend on what kind of recipe you're talking about. What are you thinking of making? Something like seven-layer/magic bars doesn't need refrigeration, but something with a custardy layer made with eggs or cream cheese and SCM would, for example.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      yes, I wouldn't be too nervous, but it would depend on the amount (and types) of dairy used. I usually respond with a devil-may-care approach, but ehh refrigerate for now until a more definitive response is gained. a short period of un-needed refrigeration won't hurt and I doubt 12 hours sealed on the counter would either (unless, as C McG considered, custard is involved).

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        I was thinking about making these bars to ship... so they might be in a box for 2-4 (or even 5?) days...

        (For some reason Sweetened Condensed Milk disgusts me like NO OTHER, so I have never used it and know nothing about it...)

        1. re: GraceW

          Hmmm, because it seems like a pretty moist recipe, I would probably ship it priority (2 days), almost more so because of the butter (melted butter goes bad more quickly than unmelted, which I assume has something to do with breaking down the fatty components).

          I wish I knew more about food science, but I don't think any of it is terribly risky per se. I just know that I wouldn't leave them unrefrigerated in warmer climates for more than two days. If you were shipping up north during winter months, I think you'd be fine.

          1. re: GraceW

            I'd be more concerned about bars like this holding up to the rigors of being shipped, than I would the safety of SCM.

            1. re: GraceW

              Oh, those are very like the seven-layer bars, except with fewer ingredients. Absolutely don't need refrigeration. Neither the SCM or the butter are a problem once they're baked.

              But you'd want to pack them carefully in a stiff box, tin, or plastic container with wax paper between the layers. On the other hand, I don't think they'd be great to eat after 5 days, so you might want to consider either making something long-keeping or choosing a faster shipping method.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                Thanks for the help and suggestions!

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Agree. I would choose something else to ship, like some very good shortbread.

            2. I would definitely not refrigerate based on the condensed milk alone. There's so much sugar in it it acts as a sort of preservative--similar the way you don't have to refrigerate fruit jams with lots of sugar. The store-bought stuff unfortunately also has several other odd additives that probably help prevent against spoilage (which is why I make my own!). By itself, it should be refrigerated once opened, but don't worry if you've baked it into something.

              1. I would wrap them tightly and freeze them solid before shipping. It will help both preservation and holding up to being shipped.