Does canned coconut milk go bad?

Coconut milk has become a popular dairy-free alternative in recent years. With its rich, creamy texture and subtle coconut flavor, coconut milk can be used in both savory and sweet dishes. Many recipes call for canned coconut milk which has a shelf life of 2 to 5 years when unopened. But what happens once you open the can? Does canned coconut milk go bad?

How Long Does Opened Canned Coconut Milk Last?

The shelf life of canned coconut milk depends on whether the can has been opened or not. An unopened can of coconut milk will typically last 2 to 5 years past the printed expiration date, as long as it has been stored properly in a cool, dark place. However, once opened, the shelf life is reduced to just 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

This is because, unlike most other canned goods, canned coconut milk does not contain any preservatives. The canning process allows canned goods to be shelf-stable by killing any bacteria through high heat. However, as soon as air enters the can, the coconut milk becomes exposed to microbes that can cause it to spoil quickly.

To maximize freshness, be sure to seal the can tightly and refrigerate after opening. Look for any changes in appearance, texture, or smell to determine if your opened coconut milk has gone bad.

How to Tell if Opened Canned Coconut Milk Has Gone Bad

Here are some signs that your opened canned coconut milk has spoiled and should be discarded:

Appearance

  • Liquid looks separated and watery
  • Cream layer appears curdled or lumpy
  • Liquid is thicker and grainy
  • Mold visible on surface

Smell

  • Sour, unpleasant, or rotten odor
  • Very strong coconut smell

Taste

  • Unpleasant, sour, or bitter taste
  • Fizzing or bubbling when shaken

If your coconut milk exhibits any of these signs, it has likely spoiled and should not be consumed. Always use your senses as a guide before using coconut milk from a previously opened can.

How Long Does Canned Coconut Milk Last Once Opened?

Storage Method Shelf Life
Refrigerator 5-7 days
Freezer 6 months

As you can see from the table above, refrigerating opened canned coconut milk will give you up to a week before it spoils. If you don’t think you’ll use the remainder within that timeframe, you can freeze it for longer term storage.

Does Canned Coconut Milk Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

If an opened can of coconut milk is left out at room temperature or somewhere warm like a hot car, it will spoil very quickly. The USDA recommends refrigerating opened canned coconut milk if it will not be used within 4 hours.

Without refrigeration, the coconut milk is in the temperature danger zone between 40°F and 140°F where bacteria can multiply rapidly. If left unrefrigerated for too long, the coconut milk will curdle, smell foul, or develop mold.

For food safety, always refrigerate opened canned coconut milk promptly after using and discard if left out overnight.

How to Store Canned Coconut Milk

Unopened

Store unopened cans of coconut milk in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Avoid storage areas that may experience temperature fluctuations.

Pantry shelves or kitchen cupboards work well for storage. For best quality, use canned coconut milk within 2 to 5 years of the printed “best by” date.

Opened

Once opened, transfer any remaining coconut milk to an airtight container or mason jar. Make sure the container is clean and dry before filling.

Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the coconut milk before sealing the container. This helps prevent air exposure. Refrigerate and use within 5 to 7 days.

Frozen

For longer term storage, canned coconut milk can be frozen for up to 6 months. First, pour the coconut milk into freezable containers or ice cube trays. Make sure to leave headspace as liquids expand when frozen.

Cover and freeze, then transfer the frozen portions to a freezer bag once solid. Remove as much air as possible and seal. Label with the date and use within 6 months for best quality.

Can You Freeze Canned Coconut Milk?

Freezing is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of leftover coconut milk from a can. The freezing process stops any bacterial growth, allowing you to keep it on hand for up to 6 months.

To freeze:

  1. Transfer coconut milk to a freezer-safe container, leaving 1⁄2 inch of headspace.
  2. Seal container and freeze for up to 6 months.
  3. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
  4. Use thawed coconut milk within 1 week.
  5. Avoid refreezing once thawed.

Freezing causes the creamy coconut milk to separate. Be sure to stir or shake until smooth when thawed before using.

Does Canned Coconut Milk Go Bad If Frozen While Still Sealed?

Freezing a can of coconut milk that is still sealed should not affect the shelf life. As long as the can remains intact without swelling or leaks, frozen canned coconut milk will safely keep for 2 to 5 years past the printed date.

However, freezing could impact the texture and cause the coconut milk to become more watery. For best quality taste and texture, store coconut milk in the pantry until ready to use.

Can You Refreeze Thawed Canned Coconut Milk?

It is not recommended to refreeze canned coconut milk after it has been thawed. Any bacteria that was present could have multiplied during the thawing process. Refreezing thawed coconut milk could potentially result in foodborne illness.

For food safety, thaw only the amount that can be used within a week. Either cook immediately or store in the fridge. Avoid refreezing thawed coconut milk.

How Long Is Canned Coconut Milk Good For After Opening?

An opened can of coconut milk will stay fresh for:

  • 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator
  • 6 months in the freezer

Make sure to transfer any leftover coconut milk to an airtight container and refrigerate promptly after opening the can. Look for signs of spoilage before consuming, such as off smells, curdling, mold growth, etc.

For longer storage, freeze remaining coconut milk in ice cube trays or freezer bags. Thaw in fridge before use.

How Long Does Canned Coconut Milk Last In The Fridge?

Refrigerating opened canned coconut milk will extend its shelf life for 5 to 7 days past opening. To maximize freshness:

  • Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate after opening.
  • Make sure container is clean and dry before filling.
  • Press plastic wrap onto the surface before sealing.
  • Use refrigerated coconut milk within one week.

Properly stored, refrigerated canned coconut milk will remain fresh tasting and retain its smooth, creamy texture for up to a week. Discard if odor, texture, or appearance changes.

Can You Use Canned Coconut Milk After Expiration Date?

Coconut milk that has been continuously refrigerated or frozen will typically be safe to consume after its expiration date, provided it has been stored properly. However, its quality degrades over time.

An unopened can of coconut milk is fine to use for up to 2 to 5 years past its printed date as long as the can is not damaged in any way. Refrigerate after opening and use within a week.

It’s important to evaluate the color, consistency, and smell before consuming expired canned foods. If it has developed an off taste or aroma, it’s best to discard.

Conclusion

Knowing how to store coconut milk correctly is key to maximizing its shelf life. While unopened canned coconut milk lasts for years, it only keeps for 5-7 days in the fridge once opened. For longer storage, freeze excess coconut milk for up to 6 months.

Always refrigerate opened cans promptly and check for signs of spoilage before use. With proper storage methods, canned coconut milk can be a convenient kitchen staple that’s ready when you need it.

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