Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative for many people. Unlike dairy milk, almond milk can be stored at room temperature unopened for several months. However, once opened it has a shorter shelf life and needs to be refrigerated. Here’s a detailed look at how long almond milk lasts both unopened and opened at room temperature, in the fridge, and freezer.
Unopened Almond Milk at Room Temperature
Unopened, commercially packaged almond milk will typically last 5-7 months past the printed “best by” date on the package when stored at room temperature. The reason it lasts so long is because the packaging creates an anaerobic, or oxygen-free, environment. Without exposure to oxygen, bacteria growth is severely limited and the milk stays safe to drink for quite a while.
However, be aware that the taste and quality of the almond milk declines over time, even if it’s still considered generally safe to consume. The proteins, fats, and nutrients can degrade in an opened package over the course of several months. So while it may last 5-7 months past the date, it will taste best if consumed within 3-4 months of the best by date.
Here are some general guidelines for how long unopened almond milk lasts past its printed date:
- 1 month past date: optimal quality
- 2-3 months past date: good quality
- 4-5 months past date: diminished quality
- 5-7 months past date: potentially usable but degraded quality
Keep in mind that these timelines refer to almond milk stored at normal room temperatures around 70°F/21°C. Timelines would be shortened for warmer temperatures or extended for cooler room temps.
Opened Almond Milk at Room Temperature
Once opened, the shelf life of almond milk stored at room temperature decreases rapidly due to exposure to oxygen. Bacteria are no longer inhibited and can multiply quickly in the oxygen-rich environment.
Here are some guidelines for how long opened almond milk will last at room temperature:
- 1-2 days: Best by date
- 3-5 days: Drinkable but diminished quality
- 5-7 days: Potentially usable but poor flavor/texture
For best taste and food safety, opened almond milk should be refrigerated and used within 5-7 days. Discard any non-refrigerated almond milk after a week.
Does Almond Milk Need to be Refrigerated When Unopened?
Refrigeration is not needed for unopened, commercially packaged almond milk. The high pressure pasteurization methods used by manufacturers create an anaerobic, sterile environment inside the bottles or cartons. As long as the package remains properly sealed, the milk remains safe at room temperature.
However, some people prefer to refrigerate unopened almond milk simply to prolong the lifespan and optimize the taste. Since cool temperatures further deter bacteria growth, refrigeration can extend the shelf life by 1-2 months past the printed date.
How Long Does Almond Milk Last in the Fridge?
Once opened, almond milk will last longer when refrigerated. Here are the general timelines for opened almond milk stored in the refrigerator:
- 7-10 days: Best by date
- 10-14 days: Drinkable but diminished quality
- 14-21 days: Potentially usable but degraded quality
For best taste and food safety, try to use refrigerated almond milk within 7-10 days after opening. Discard any opened bottles after 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Does Almond Milk Go Bad?
Yes, almond milk can go bad after extended time at room temperature or past its use by date, especially if opened. Signs that almond milk has gone bad include:
- Sour odor
- Chunky texture
- Mold growth
- Curdled consistency
If you see or smell any of these traits, err on the side of caution and discard the almond milk. Consuming spoiled milk can potentially cause food poisoning.
How to Tell if Almond Milk is Still Good?
To determine if almond milk is still good to drink, first check the best by date. If it is within the normal shelf life, look for the following signs of freshness:
- Clean, creamy color
- No sour smell
- Smooth, uniform texture when shaken
- Tastes normal with no bitterness
If your almond milk displays those fresh traits and is within the shelf life guidelines, it should be fine to consume.
Does Almond Milk Last Longer in the Fridge or Pantry?
For an unopened, sealed container, almond milk will technically last longer in the pantry than the fridge. However, for the best taste, many people prefer to store it in the refrigerator. Here is a comparison:
|Storage Method||Shelf Life|
|Pantry||5-7 months past printed date|
|Refrigerator||7-9 months past printed date|
Once opened, almond milk must be refrigerated and will last for 7-10 days.
How to Make Almond Milk Last Longer
Here are some tips to extend the shelf life of almond milk:
- Refrigerate after opening
- Keep away from light and heat
- Store in air-tight containers
- Keep back-up bottles frozen
- Avoid contaminating the opening with utensils
How Long Does Almond Milk Last in the Freezer?
Storing opened or unopened almond milk in the freezer significantly prolongs its shelf life. Frozen almond milk will typically last 6-8 months in the freezer past its printed best by date before quality starts to decline. Portion almond milk into airtight containers or freezer bags before freezing.
To thaw, place the frozen almond milk container in the refrigerator overnight. Give it a good shake once thawed and use within one week for optimal taste and texture.
Can You Freeze Almond Milk?
Yes, you can safely freeze almond milk. Make sure to leave a bit of headspace in the container as liquids expand during freezing. Freeze unopened bottles as is. For opened containers, divide into appropriate portion sizes in freezer-safe bags or bottles before freezing.
The high fat content in almond milk means it holds up well to freezing. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.
In summary, unopened almond milk will last 5-7 months past its printed date when stored in the pantry. However, for best quality refrigerate and use within 4 months.
Once opened, almond milk should be used within 1 week and refrigerated for no more than 2-3 weeks. Do not leave it sitting out for more than a day or two.
Seal containers tightly and keep refrigerated or frozen for longest life. Discard any milk that smells or looks sour or curdled.
Following proper storage guidelines will keep your almond milk tasting fresh and extend its shelf life.