Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative for many people. Like other perishable foods, almond milk comes with a stamped expiration date on its packaging. This date indicates the last day the manufacturer vouches for the product’s quality and safety. But what if your refrigerated almond milk has passed its expiry date? Is it still safe to consume?
How long does almond milk last past its expiration date?
The shelf life of almond milk depends on several factors:
- Container type – Cartons vs bottles
- Storage temperature – Fridge vs pantry
- Kind of almond milk – Plain vs flavored
- Package opening – Opened vs sealed
In general, unopened refrigerated almond milk stays fresh for 7-10 days past its printed date, if continuously refrigerated. However, almond milk stored in the pantry should not be consumed past its expiration date.
Signs that almond milk has gone bad
Watch out for the following signs to determine if your expired almond milk has spoiled:
- Sour smell
- Curdled texture
- Mold growth
- Off white color
If your refrigerated almond milk exhibits any of these characteristics, it’s best to discard it right away even if it’s still within the 7-10 day window after the printed date.
Why does almond milk expire so quickly?
There are a few reasons why almond milk has a relatively short shelf life compared to cow’s milk:
|Lack of preservatives||Almond milk contains very minimal natural preservatives compared to cow’s milk.|
|High water content||The high water content in almond milk makes it prone to microbial growth.|
|Lack of pasteurization||Some almond milk brands are not ultra-pasteurized to extend shelf life.|
|Spoilage enzymes||Enzymes from the almonds can cause almond milk to spoil more quickly.|
Tips to extend the shelf life of almond milk
Here are some handy tips to make your almond milk last longer in the fridge:
- Check the package date and buy the freshest cartons or bottles possible.
- Ensure proper refrigerator temperature of 40°F or below.
- Keep unopened almond milk towards the back of the fridge where it’s coldest.
- Give an unopened carton a good shake before pouring to redistribute settled contents.
- Make sure to screw the cap tightly on opened bottles before refrigerating.
- Smell and inspect the milk before consuming to check for signs of spoilage.
- Consider freezing unused almond milk in airtight containers for longer storage.
Safety tips for consuming expired almond milk
If you intend to drink almond milk past its printed date, follow these food safety guidelines:
- Sniff the milk first and look for discoloration or curdling.
- Take a small sip to check for unpleasant flavors indicating spoilage.
- Do not drink if the milk tastes or smells off in any way.
- Stick within the 7-10 day window for refrigerated, unopened products.
- Avoid cooking with expired almond milk as the heat may intensify spoilage.
- Do not give expired milk to infants, young children, pregnant women, elderly, or those with immunity issues.
Health risks of consuming spoiled almond milk
Drinking bad almond milk poses some health risks:
|Food poisoning||Can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramping due to bacterial growth.|
|Vitamin deficiency||Loss of vitamin fortifications like vitamin D, calcium, etc. due to spoilage.|
|Allergic reaction||Protein structures can change during spoilage, provoking allergies in sensitive people.|
Severe cases of food poisoning may require hospitalization leading to further health complications and expenses. Not worth the risk!
How to store unopened almond milk properly
Follow these tips for storing unopened almond milk:
- Read the package instructions carefully for storage guidelines.
- Immediately refrigerate unopened almond milk at 40°F or below.
- Check frequently that your fridge temperature is consistent.
- Keep milk towards the back of the fridge where temperature fluctuates less.
- Avoid storing in side refrigerator doors which get warmer than inner shelves.
- Keep away from strong odor foods that may impart flavors.
- Ensure the expiration date is clearly visible.
- Consume by the use-by date for optimal quality and safety.
How to store opened almond milk properly
Once opened, almond milk needs extra care for longer freshness:
- Transfer contents to an airtight container, if not resealable.
- Ensure the container is thoroughly cleaned and dried first.
- Fill the container right to the top to minimize air exposure.
- Replace original cap tightly after pouring out each use.
- Write the opening date with marker on the container.
- Use within 7-10 days of opening for refrigerated products.
- Smell and inspect before consumption after opening.
- Do not return any unused milk back to the original container.
How to tell when opened almond milk goes bad
Look for these signs that opened almond milk has spoiled:
- Sour, unpleasant smell
- Change in color/consistency
- Curdled texture
- Mold presence
- Fizzing, bubbling when shaken
- Taste is off, bitter, or salty
When refrigerated almond milk exhibits any of these characteristics after opening, it should be discarded immediately even if within the 7-10 day window.
Can you freeze almond milk past expiration date?
Freezing can extend the shelf life of unopened almond milk by 2-3 months past the printed date. Ensure airtight packaging and minimal exposure to air during freezing process. Thaw overnight in the fridge before use.
Can curdled almond milk make you sick?
Yes, curdling indicates the milk has turned acidic and bacterial growth may have occurred. Curdled milk should not be consumed due to higher risk of food borne illness.
Can almond milk be donated past expiration date?
Food banks do not accept perishable foods like almond milk past expiration date due to concerns over food safety and illness.
In most cases, unopened refrigerated almond milk can be safely consumed within 7-10 days past its printed date, provided it was stored properly at 40°F or below. However, the milk should be inspected closely for any signs of spoilage before consumption. Once opened, almond milk has a shorter shelf life of just 7-10 days in the fridge. Always err on the side of caution if you notice anything off about the milk’s taste, smell or appearance.
Following proper storage methods, looking for visual cues and using your senses are the best ways to determine if expired almond milk is still good or has spoiled. When in doubt, remember it’s better to be safe than sick – dump it out! With some care, you can enjoy almond milk a little past its prime, while avoiding the risks of food-borne illness.