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Can Oatly milk be stored at room temperature?

Oatly has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative in recent years. Made from oats, Oatly milk has a creamy, milk-like consistency and can be used as a substitute for cow’s milk in everything from cereals and smoothies to baking and cooking.

One common question that arises with Oatly milk is whether it can be stored at room temperature or if it needs to be refrigerated. The answer depends on the type of Oatly milk product.

Refrigerated Oatly Milk

Oatly’s refrigerated milk products such as their regular Oatly Milk, Low-fat Oatly Milk, and Chocolate Oatly Milk need to be stored in the refrigerator. These products are perishable and will spoil if left unrefrigerated. This is because they do not contain preservatives or undergo ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurization.

According to Oatly, their refrigerated milk products should be consumed within 7-10 days of opening and stored in the fridge at a temperature of 39°F or lower. Storing them at room temperature for even a short period can allow bacteria to grow and spoil the milk.

Shelf-Stable Oatly Milk

In contrast to their refrigerated line, Oatly also offers shelf-stable, aseptic milk products such as their Oatly Milk Barista Edition and Chocolate Oatly Barista Edition. These products have undergone UHT pasteurization and can be stored unopened at room temperature until the “best by” date printed on the package.

UHT pasteurization heats the milk to a very high temperature for a short time, which kills off any bacteria and enables the milk to be shelf-stable. As long as the package remains unopened and undamaged, Oatly’s shelf-stable milk products can be safely stored in the pantry.

However, once opened, Oatly recommends consuming any remaining product within 7-10 days and keeping it refrigerated. The aseptic packaging helps prevent contamination prior to opening, but refrigeration is still needed to limit bacteria growth after opening.

Comparing Refrigerated and Shelf-Stable Oatly Milk

Here is a comparison of Oatly’s refrigerated and shelf-stable milk products:

Product Type Pasteurization Method Refrigeration Needed?
Refrigerated (Oatly Milk, Low-fat Oatly Milk, Chocolate Oatly Milk) Traditional pasteurization Yes, both before and after opening
Shelf-Stable (Oatly Barista Edition, Chocolate Oatly Barista Edition) UHT pasteurization No before opening, yes after opening

As shown in the table, Oatly’s refrigerated milk products require refrigeration at all times, while their shelf-stable, aseptic products can be stored at room temperature unopened. However, once opened, both types require refrigeration.

How to Store Opened Oatly Milk

For all varieties of Oatly milk, proper storage after opening is important to maintain quality and safety.

Here are some tips for storing opened Oatly milk products:

  • Keep refrigerated at 39°F or lower
  • Store in the original container; do not transfer to other containers
  • Seal the container tightly after each use
  • Consume within 7-10 days of opening
  • Do not freeze

An unopened, sealed Oatly milk carton or bottle can last for weeks or months beyond the “best by” date if properly stored. However, once opened, Oatly milk will only last about a week in the fridge. Keeping it refrigerated ensures freshness and prevents bacterial growth.

How to Tell if Oatly Milk Has Spoiled

Despite proper refrigeration, Oatly milk can sometimes spoil before the recommended 7-10 day window after opening. Here are some signs that your Oatly milk has gone bad:

  • Change in color: Fresh Oatly milk is white. If it starts turning yellow or pink, it’s a sign of spoilage.
  • Clumps or chunks: Soured milk will often form clumps or strings. This is due to proteins and fats clustering together.
  • Off smells: Spoiled Oatly milk will have a sour, unpleasant smell.
  • Change in texture: Bad Oatly milk may have a slimy, thick, or curdled consistency.
  • Mold: If you notice fuzzy mold growing in the Oatly milk, it needs to be discarded.

If your Oatly milk exhibits any of these characteristics, it’s best to throw it out. Consuming spoiled milk can potentially lead to foodborne illness.

Does Oatly Milk Curdle or Curdle Easily?

Some plant-based milks like soy or almond milk can tend to curdle or separate when mixed into hot coffee or tea. However, Oatly milk is formulated to be barista-quality, meaning it is designed not to curdle under high heat.

The starches and fibers found in oats give Oatly milk a stability that prevents it from curdling in hot beverages. While it’s still possible for Oatly milk to curdle if left out too long after opening, it won’t curdle right away like other dairy-free milks when prepared properly.

Can You Make Oat Milk at Home?

While Oatly provides a convenient, ready-to-use oat milk product, many people enjoy making their own homemade oat milk as well. Oat milk is relatively easy to make at home with just a few ingredients.

To make basic homemade oat milk you will need:

  • 1 cup rolled or steel-cut oats
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • Blend or straining bag

Steps to make oat milk:

  1. Add the oats and water to a blender and blend on high for about 1 minute until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour the blended oat mixture into a straining bag and squeeze out the milk over a large bowl or container.
  3. Discard the oat pulp. Add pinch of salt to the strained oat milk and stir to combine.
  4. Store homemade oat milk in the refrigerator and shake before use. It will last 3-4 days refrigerated.

You can customize homemade oat milk using different oat types, sweeteners, flavors, and milk stabilizing agents for texture. However, homemade oat milk won’t be shelf-stable like Oatly’s products. It requires refrigeration and has a shorter shelf life.

Is Oat Milk a Healthy Choice?

Oat milk has grown in popularity due to its many nutritional benefits compared to dairy milk. Here are some of the top health advantages of drinking oat milk:

  • Lower in calories and fat – Oat milk has about half the calories and fat content of 2% dairy milk. It’s lower in saturated fat. This can benefit heart health, weight control, and diabetes management.
  • Rich in fiber – The natural soluble fiber in oat milk promotes good digestion, cholesterol reduction, and improved blood sugar control.
  • Contains vitamins and minerals – Oat milk provides niacin, folate, vitamin B12, calcium, and potassium. Oatly products are also fortified with vitamins and nutrients.
  • Dairy-free – For people with lactose intolerance, casein or milk protein allergies, oat milk offers a plant-based, non-dairy alternative.
  • Sustainable choice – Oat milk production has a lower carbon and water footprint than dairy milk and other plant milk substitutes.

Of course, oat milk isn’t necessarily right for everyone. People with gluten sensitivity should use certified gluten-free oat milk, as oats can contain traces of gluten. Those with nut allergies should also check that their oat milk wasn’t processed on equipment shared with nuts.

Overall though, for many people oat milk can be a nutritious and more sustainable dairy milk alternative that is safe for room temperature storage when unopened.

Conclusion

Oatly offers both refrigerated oat milk products that always require refrigeration, as well as aseptically packaged shelf-stable varieties that can be stored unopened at room temperature. However, all types of opened Oatly milk should be stored in the fridge and consumed within 7-10 days for food safety.

With its mild, creamy taste and nutritional profile, Oatly milk can be a smart fridge staple. Just be sure to follow storage guidelines on the package and refrigerate after opening to enjoy Oatly milk at its best quality and freshness.