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How do you know when almond milk is bad?

Introduction

Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative. However, like regular dairy milk, almond milk does eventually spoil. Knowing the signs of spoiled almond milk can help you avoid consuming bad almond milk that could make you sick. This article will cover how to tell if opened or unopened almond milk has gone bad.

How to Tell if Opened Almond Milk is Bad

Once opened, almond milk will last for 7-10 days in the refrigerator before spoiling. Here are some ways to know if your opened almond milk has gone bad:

Check the Expiration Date

Check the expiration date on the carton. If the date has passed, the almond milk is likely no longer good to drink. Almond milk generally lasts 5-7 days past its printed expiration date when refrigerated.

Smell the Almond Milk

Give the almond milk a sniff. Fresh almond milk should have a mild, nutty smell. If it smells sour or unpleasant, it has likely spoiled. Rancid or spoiled milk gives off a distinct sour odor.

Check the Color

Almond milk is typically opaque white. If it has changed colors, becoming yellow or pink, that indicates spoilage. Separation of the liquid and solids is also a sign of old almond milk.

Check for Clumps

Give the milk a little swirl or shake. If there are clumps or lumps that don’t dissolve, the almond milk has gone bad. This indicates the milk proteins have degraded.

Taste the Almond Milk

If the milk passes the other tests, take a small sip. Sour, bitter, or unpleasant flavors mean the almond milk is no longer good. You’ll notice immediately if it has spoiled.

How to Tell if Unopened Almond Milk is Bad

Unopened, shelf-stable almond milk typically stays fresh 6-12 months. Here’s what to look for to determine if unopened almond milk is still good:

Inspect the Packaging

Make sure the carton or bottle is not damaged, bloated, or leaking which could allow spoilage. Also check that the cap or seal is still intact.

Examine the Color

The almond milk should look uniform in color. If the liquids and solids have separated or it looks curdled, that’s a sign it may be deteriorating in quality.

Check the Smell

When you open a new carton, it should have a fresh, mild almond scent without any sourness. A unpleasant or “off” odor means the milk has likely started to go rancid.

Check the Expiration Date

Look at the “use by” or “best by” date printed on the packaging. If that date has passed, the unopened almond milk is probably past its prime.

Taste Test It

Upon opening a new carton, take a small sip. Fresh almond milk should taste mild, creamy and nutty without any bitterness or sour flavor. Foul or strange tastes mean it’s no longer good.

How Long Does Almond Milk Last?

Knowing the shelf life of almond milk can help prevent accidental spoilage. Here is how long almond milk lasts in different scenarios:

Unopened Shelf-Stable Almond Milk

6-12 months past the printed expiration date. The longer shelf life is due to the aseptic packaging used. As long as the packaging remains intact, unopened almond milk stays fresh for about a year in the pantry.

Unopened Refrigerated Almond Milk

7-10 days past the printed date. Refrigerated almond milk in sealed containers stays drinkable for about a week past its expiration date if kept at 40°F or below.

Opened Almond Milk in the Fridge

7-10 days. Once opened, almond milk should be used within about a week. Keep the cap sealed and store in the fridge to extend its shelf life.

Almond Milk at Room Temperature

2 hours max. Bacteria grow rapidly in perishable dairy-alternatives left out at room temperature. For food safety, discard any milk left unrefrigerated for longer.

Type of Almond Milk Shelf Life
Unopened shelf-stable 6-12 months past printed date
Unopened refrigerated 7-10 days past printed date
Opened in fridge 7-10 days
Left at room temperature 2 hours max

How to Store Almond Milk Correctly

Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness and extend the shelf life of almond milk. Here are some storage tips:

Unopened Almond Milk

– Store unopened shelf-stable milk in a cool, dry pantry away from direct sunlight. Avoid storage above 77°F.

– For refrigerated almond milk, store unopened in the fridge in the coldest area, typically the back. Don’t store in the door where the temperature fluctuates.

Opened Almond Milk

– Keep opened almond milk containers tightly sealed and stored in the refrigerator.

– Place opened containers on an interior fridge shelf, not in the door.

– If transporting or packing almond milk for a trip, use an insulated cooler bag and frozen ice packs to keep it cold.

– Don’t return any remaining milk after pouring to the original container. This can introduce bacteria. Pour into a separate sealed container.

– Avoid contamination by using clean utensils and washing hands before pouring. Don’t place the pouring spout directly on surfaces or allow backwash into the container.

What To Do With Bad Almond Milk

If despite your best efforts, you discover you have spoiled or bad almond milk, here is the best protocol:

Step 1: Confirm It’s Spoiled

Give it a sniff, visual examination, and taste test to be sure it’s gone bad before discarding.

Step 2: Mark the Carton

Clearly mark the container as spoiled to avoid future mishaps. Use a marker to write “SPOILED” or attach a sticker.

Step 3: Properly Dispose

Do not pour the curdled or soured almond milk down the drain, as this can clog pipes. Place the sealed carton in a plastic bag and put in the main household trash bin.

Step 4: Clean the Area

Disinfect any areas the spoiled milk contacted, such as fridge shelves, countertops, or pouring spouts. This prevents cross-contamination with other food.

Step 5: Replace the Almond Milk

Discard all open cartons that may have been contaminated by the spoiled milk. Purchase fresh milk, being careful to check expiration dates at the store.

Can You Freeze Almond Milk?

Freezing is one way to extend the shelf life of almond milk and reduce food waste. Here is what you need to know:

How to Freeze Almond Milk

– Leave 2-3 inches of headspace in cartons or containers allow for expansion.

– Seal tightly with lid. Freezer bags also work well for freezing smaller portions. Remove as much air as possible and seal.

– Label bags or containers with the date. This helps track freshness.

– Freeze immediately at 0°F or colder. Place in the back of the freezer where temperature is most stable.

Thawing and Using Frozen Almond Milk

– Thaw frozen milk overnight in the fridge until completely liquid. Don’t try to hurry thawing.

– Give the milk a mix once thawed and taste test before using. It may have some separation but should taste normal.

– Use thawed milk within 1-2 days for the best quality and freshness. Do not refreeze milk after it has thawed.

– Discard any milk that smells off or tastes sour after thawing.

How Long Can You Freeze Almond Milk?

– Shelf-stable milk: up to 6 months frozen

– Refrigerated milk: up to 2 months frozen

– For best quality, use frozen almond milk within 3-4 months. The proteins and lipids can degrade over longer freezing.

Conclusion

Checking for signs of spoilage, proper refrigeration, and freezing when possible can help you avoid consuming spoiled almond milk. Be sure to keep almond milk sealed, stored at the correct temperature, look for changes in taste, texture and smell, and pay attention to expiration dates. With the right storage methods, almond milk can retain its fresh, creamy taste and texture. Being aware of the shelf life, using caution after opening, and freezing unused portions lets you safely enjoy this popular plant-based milk.