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What are the signs of bad almond milk?

Almond milk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative in recent years. With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, many people prefer almond milk over dairy milk or other plant milks. However, like any food product, almond milk does eventually spoil and go bad. Knowing the signs of bad almond milk can help you determine when it’s time to toss the carton and open a fresh one.

Checking the Expiration Date

The first and easiest way to tell if your almond milk has gone bad is to check the expiration date printed on the carton. Almond milk generally lasts 5-7 days past its printed expiration date when stored properly in a sealed container in the fridge. If your almond milk is past its expiration date, it’s a good indicator that it may be spoiled and should be discarded.

Change in Appearance

You can often tell bad almond milk by its appearance. Fresh almond milk should be creamy white in color with no yellowish tint. As almond milk starts to spoil, it will begin to look curdled with the almond solids separating from the liquid. Significant changes in consistency or texture can also signal it’s gone bad.

Here are some visual signs of spoiled almond milk:

  • Yellowish tint
  • Curdled texture
  • Watery appearance
  • Chunky film/particles floating

Sour Smell

Giving your almond milk carton a sniff test is one of the fastest ways to determine if it’s gone bad. Fresh almond milk has a pleasant, nutty aroma. As it spoils, it will start to have a sour, unpleasant sour milk smell caused by the growth of bacteria. If your almond milk smells rancid or vinegary, it is likely past its prime and should not be consumed.

Sour/Off Taste

Along with an off smell, bad almond milk will also simply not taste right. Fresh almond milk should have a creamy, nutty flavor. Spoiled almond milk will taste sour or bitter. It may leave an unpleasant aftertaste or even make your mouth feel slick or filmy. If you notice your almond milk has an off taste, do not drink any more of it.

Gas/Bulging Carton

If your unopened almond milk carton is swollen or bulging, that is a tell-tale sign gases are being produced as the milk spoils, causing pressure to build up inside the container. Any leaking or oozing liquid from the carton also indicates it has gone bad. An inflated, leaking carton should promptly be discarded without opening it.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out

If your almond milk exhibits any of the signs above or you are uncertain if it is still safe to consume, it is best to be cautious and toss it out. With almond milk being relatively inexpensive and lasting 5-7 days in the fridge after opening, it is better to be safe than sick if there is any doubt about the quality.

How to Store Almond Milk to Prevent Spoilage

To get the longest shelf life out of your almond milk and prevent spoilage, be sure to store it properly:

  • Keep almond milk refrigerated at all times, even before opening.
  • Screw the lid on tightly after each use.
  • Store toward the back of the fridge furthest from the door.
  • Keep track of expiration date and use within 5-7 days of opening.
  • Do not store almond milk on the fridge door where temperature fluctuations can accelerate spoilage.
  • Avoid contamination – do not return unused milk from glass to the carton.

How Long Does Almond Milk Last?

The shelf life of almond milk depends on whether it is opened or unopened:

State Fridge Freezer
Unopened 5-7 days past expiration date 6-8 months
Opened 5-7 days 1-2 months

As you can see, an opened carton of almond milk should be used up within a week. Keep this general timeline in mind when assessing the freshness of your almond milk.

Can You Save Spoiled Almond Milk?

Unfortunately, once almond milk has soured and exhibited signs of spoilage, it cannot be salvaged or made safe to drink again. The growth of bacteria causes irreversible changes in the milk’s taste, smell, and consistency. There are no methods to reverse this spoilage process. So if your almond milk has expired or you believe it may be bad, it is best to dispose of it.

What to Do With Bad Almond Milk

If you’ve determined your almond milk has gone bad, be sure to dispose of it properly:

  • Pour the spoiled almond milk down the sink drain, running plenty of water to rinse it down.
  • Place the empty carton in the recycling bin.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling spoiled milk.
  • Inspect other opened milk cartons in the fridge to ensure they are still fresh.
  • Discard any other expired or questionable milk products.

Following these steps will help eliminate the spoiled milk and contain any bacteria growth.

Can You Drink Almond Milk Past the Expiration Date?

It is generally not recommended to consume any perished foods, including almond milk, past the expiration date printed on the package. However, almond milk tends to remain safe for 5-7 days past its sell-by date if it has been stored properly in a refrigerator set below 40°F. The milk should still look and smell fresh, with no signs of separation or curdling.

Use your best judgment – slight sourness may be tolerable if just a day or two past date, but significant off tastes or smells likely mean the milk is no longer safe to drink. When in doubt, it’s better to be cautious and discard almond milk that is nearing or just passed its expiration date.

Does Almond Milk Need to be Refrigerated?

Yes, almond milk absolutely must be refrigerated at all times, even when unopened. Leaving almond milk sitting out on the counter will significantly decrease its shelf life. The warmer temperature will accelerate bacteria growth and spoilage. For food safety, always store unopened and opened containers of almond milk in the refrigerator set below 40°F.

Can You Freeze Almond Milk?

Freezing is an effective way to prolong the shelf life of almond milk. To freeze:

  • Make sure milk carton is tightly sealed.
  • Leave at least 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion.
  • Flat lay carton in freezer so milk remains evenly distributed.
  • Freeze for up to 6-8 months.
  • Thaw overnight in fridge before use.
  • Use thawed within 1 week.
  • Do not refreeze after thawing.

Frozen almond milk may separate slightly but will return to normal after shaking vigorously. It will retain its nutrition and flavor.

Can You Make Your Own Almond Milk?

Absolutely! Making homemade almond milk is simple. All you need is:

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Sweetener like honey if desired
  • Vanilla or other spices for flavor optional

Blend almonds and water on high until smooth and creamy. Strain through cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Add desired sweetener and flavorings. Store in fridge and use within 4-5 days.

The beauty of homemade almond milk is you control the ingredients. It cuts down on additives and preservatives found in store-bought varieties prolonging shelf life. Just be sure to use best practices for storage and consume quickly for freshness.

Conclusion

Checking for changes in smell, taste, appearance and texture are the best ways to determine if your almond milk has gone bad. Following proper storage methods and being aware of expiration dates can help prevent spoilage. But when in doubt, do not risk drinking almond milk that you suspect may be spoiled. Tossing a questionable carton is a small price to pay to avoid foodborne illness.