You discovered a carton of almond milk in your pantry that is a few weeks past its expiration date. That begs the question, does almond milk go bad?
Maybe you’ve had a half-opened carton of almond milk in the fridge for a few days after you’ve frothed your almond milk for your coffee and want to know how long is almond milk good for.
Or perhaps you’re new to almond milk and are unsure how to store it. Some containers sit in the refrigerated section, while others don’t, and you don’t know what to make of it.
In other words, there are numerous concerns concerning this non-dairy milk.
In this essay, I’ll go through the fundamentals of almond milk shelf life, storage, and spoiling. Continue reading if that seems interesting.
Is it necessary to refrigerate almond milk?
Shelf-stable almond milk only has to be refrigerated after opening the container, whereas refrigerated and handmade almond milk must be kept in the fridge at all times.
The same is true with cow’s milk: some bottles are kept in refrigerators, while cartons are allowed to roam in another aisle.
That’s the main point. Let’s go into what’s going on here.
Almond Milk: Refrigerated vs. Shelf-Stable
On the market, there are two types of almond milk: refrigerated and shelf-stable. The primary distinction between the two is the packaging.
The shelf-stable almond milk is packaged in aseptic (near-sterile) containers and is processed to ensure that microorganisms are not present. The cartons shield the milk from light and air, guaranteeing that the flavor and nutritional value remain stable for months.
The (perhaps) most popular aseptic packing technology is called Tetra Pak®. Milk, all of its replacements (rice, soy, almond, coconut), and a variety of other beverages are packaged using this method.
The chilled bottles and cartons are not packaged in the same way and are not protected from outside elements. As a result, refrigeration is required.
One variety isn’t always superior to another. It all comes down to preference.
Some almond milk connoisseurs may argue that fresh (refrigerated) almond milk tastes better and is less processed, although the differences are negligible.
It’s a question of convenience for the vast majority of us. If you consume it frequently, go ahead and get the chilled version. If you’re merely a casual consumer, however, the shelf-stable option is your best bet.
Is Almond Milk a dairy product?
No, it isn’t. Almond milk is a dairy substitute created by soaking ground almond meal in water. It is then filtered and strained, yielding a creamy, smoothie-like drink with a wonderful, nutty flavor.
Some commercially made almond milk adds preservatives to extend its shelf life, but in general, almond milk does not contain any animal ingredients. This makes it an excellent milk substitute for vegans as well as those with lactose sensitivity or dairy allergies.
Make sure you buy the best almond milk!
Is Almond Milk perishable?
Almond milk, like regular milk and all other milk replacements, spoils. While the shelf-stable kind lasts significantly longer than the refrigerated variety, both eventually go bad.
Furthermore, your almond milk does not have to be ruined for you to decide to reject it. There are three things to think about here:
- Real spoilage, such as mold growth or sourness (more on signs of spoilage in a minute)
- Change in quality – if it’s good enough to drink
- Storage duration – if you keep it for much longer than you should (look for specifics in the section on shelf life)
Any of the above is sufficient reason to presume your almond milk is contaminated and dispose of it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that almond milk spoils even if it is unopened. This is especially true for the refrigerated version, which typically does not last past the use-by date.
The shelf-stable one lasts considerably longer than its expiration date, but its flavor will deteriorate sooner or later, and you’ll toss it for quality concerns.
With that in mind, let’s discuss the symptoms of genuine spoiling.
How can you tell if your almond milk is bad?
Here’s how to tell if your almond milk has gone bad:
Examine the package
Throw discard the milk if the container is swollen, puffy, or leaky. The dairy-free milk isn’t contaminated, but something is seriously wrong here. Better to be safe than sorry.
If there’s nothing wrong with the carton, shake it up, pour yourself a half-glass, and go.
Examine the milk’s appearance.
Look for black patches and discolorations (which could be mold) as well as anything else that appears questionable. Examine the texture of the drink as well.
Almond milk isn’t thick, and it shouldn’t be unless it’s homemade and the pulp is left in. The consistency of store-bought almond milk is very similar to that of milk.
Throw it out if it’s slimy or lumpy.
Depending on the amount of thickeners added, some kinds of almond milk are slightly thicker than others.
Sniff it out.
Almond milk smells nutty and fresh. There will be a tinge of sweetness if it is a sweetened kind. If it’s flavored (for example, vanilla), some of that taste will come through in the smell. That’s what you should notice when you take a whiff of your almond milk.
It’s time to get rid of anything that smells sour, old, or “strange.”
Pour yourself a drink.
Take a little sip if everything appears to be fine up to this point.
Pour your almond milk down the drain if it tastes sour or odd in any way. Otherwise, evaluate whether it’s suitable for use based on its flavor.
Keep in mind the expiration date.
Of course, following the steps stated above makes sense only if the deadline is within a realistic time frame.
If the almond milk has been opened for over two weeks, simply discard it. Same thing if it’s a shelf-stable variety that’s three months past its best-by date, or a refrigerated type that’s more than two weeks past its expiration date.
What happens if almond milk is spoiled?
The following are typical symptoms of food poisoning:
nauseousness, vomiting, diarrhea, or a mix of the aforementioned
Those symptoms are often caused by mycotoxins produced by mold and are not unique to almond milk.
Of course, you may or may experience none of these symptoms as a result of consuming contaminated almond milk. So you might as well be fine and never suspect anything was amiss with that glass of 2-week-old almond milk.
Also, you probably inhale some mold spores on mistake every now and again (or perhaps more frequently), and you feel good practically all the time.
In other words, just because you don’t feel sick doesn’t mean you can drink that old almond milk.
How long will almond milk last? Table chart
|Almond milk (shelf-stable, unopened)||Best by + 1 – 2 months|
|Almond milk (shelf-stable, opened)||7 – 10 days|
|Almond milk (refrigerated, unopened)||Use-by + 5 – 7 days|
|Almond milk (refrigerated, opened)||7 days|
|Homemade almond milk||3 – 4 days|
Shelf-stable almond milk has a shelf life of up to a year and will keep for at least a few weeks after its expiration date. Refrigerated almond milk has a substantially shorter shelf life of up to two weeks. Both types have a shelf life of 7 to 10 days after opening.
When it comes to homemade almond milk, it can be stored for 3 to 4 days. Because store-bought types are pasteurized, they last longer in the fridge than handmade versions.
That’s the lowdown on almond milk shelf life. Let’s get into the specifics.
After opening the almond milk
When you open a carton of almond milk, it will keep in the fridge for 7 to 10 days. That is what the most popular brands, such as Silk and Blue Diamond, advise. If it’s refrigerated, use it within that time frame or 5 to 7 days after the use-by date, whichever comes first.
The suggested storage durations differ slightly across brands.
Blue Diamond, for example, suggests varying times based on the type of milk (7 for refrigerated, 10 for shelf-stable). Silk, on the other hand, has the same 7 to 10 day duration regardless of variation.
Undoubtedly, other manufacturers may have different recommendations, such as 5 days of storage after opening. That’s what my Alpro almond milk carton says.
If you wish to follow the producer’s instructions exactly, read the label and follow the guidance you discover there.
Overall, I wouldn’t keep the milk for more than 10 days after opening, regardless of brand. That 7-to-10-day timeframe (which is also the normal storage term for opened milk) is already significantly longer than the suggested 4-day storage period for leftovers.
Date of Expiration
Shelf-stable almond milk has a best-by date, whereas refrigerated almond milk normally has a use-by date. Neither date is an expiration date, and both are concerned with food quality rather than food safety.
As a result, you’re probably wondering how long almond milk is good for after the “expiration” date. Unfortunately, no hard science exists on the subject, but we can offer some educated predictions.
Shelf-stable almond milk that has passed its expiration date
There’s no reason why the shelf-stable variety shouldn’t hold quality for a little longer, especially because it lasts for months. Almond milk, after all, isn’t a time bomb that mysteriously degrades the day after the date inscribed on the label.
How long does shelf-stable almond milk keep after the expiration date?
It’s tough to say, but you shouldn’t expect it to last more than a month, perhaps two.
After that time, it’s usually best to dump the liquid. It’ll most likely be safe to drink, and it might even taste good, but you need to draw a line.
Refrigerated almond milk that has passed its expiration date
Refrigerated almond milk has a much shorter storage time, therefore the period that it’s still fine after its date is also very short.
My estimate is that it is 5 to 7 days past its expiration date. Anything more, and you’re playing with fire.
Before drinking almond milk that has passed its expiration date, make sure it isn’t spoilt by following the steps given in the spoiling section. And if the milk is well over its expiration date, it’s usually best to throw it out.
How long can almond milk be stored?
All perishable items that have been left (at room temperature) for more than 2 hours should be discarded, according to the official recommendation. If the temperature rises above 90°F (32°C), the duration is reduced to one hour.
Of course, those time frames only apply to refrigerated almond milk or shelf-stable almond milk that has previously been opened.
It is entirely up to you whether you adhere strictly to these guidelines. I mean, if your almond milk stays on the counter for 2 hours and 5 minutes, it should be fine.
However, if you inadvertently leave almond milk out overnight, destroy it regardless of whether it appears to be fine.
How to store almond milk
Almond milk should be stored in a cool, dark place away from heat sources. Refrigerate any leftovers once you’ve opened the carton. Both refrigerated almond milk and homemade almond milk must be kept chilled at all times.
Those are the fundamentals, which you are most certainly already aware of.
- If you’re unsure whether the almond milk you bought is shelf-stable or not, and the label isn’t apparent, consider where it was in the store. Store it in the refrigerator if it was in the refrigerated section.
- After opening the container, securely seal it before placing it in the refrigerator. If the leftovers aren’t in a resealable carton or bottle, place them in a mason jar or an airtight container. Or anything else that can be sealed.
- Store your almond milk away from the fridge door if you want to enhance your storage game. That’s what Blue Diamond suggests. The reason for this is that the refrigerator door is frequently the warmest portion of the unit and is prone to temperature changes. It won’t make much of a difference until you open the fridge a hundred times every day.
- Finally, there is the issue of food hygiene. Pour the nut milk into a glass rather than drinking it directly from the container, unless you’re nearing the end of the carton or bottle.
Is Almond Milk ruined in hot weather?
It will go bad if left in a warm atmosphere, just like if you leave almond milk out.
It can, however, be heated fresh from the refrigerator without going bad. It can also be mixed into hot beverages without spoiling, though the heat of the water may cause it to curdle.
It’s also incredibly easy to burn almond milk by accident. However, if you gently and attentively cook it over a low heat, the risks of it burning or curdling are considerably reduced.
What does it mean if almond milk has black spots?
If you see black specks in your almond milk, you should discard it. Finding black specks in any type of milk, especially if it’s been commercially packaged, is never a good sign.
It’s rare, but the black specks in your almond milk could be a black fungus caused by mold developing inside the package. If you see this, you should throw out the entire container of milk.
If you produced your own almond milk, there’s a risk that parts of the almond’s skin got into the milk when you strained it. To be on the safe side, it’s still a good idea to toss out the milk.
Does almond milk curdle?
Almond milk can curdle, however, this is most likely to occur when fresh almond milk is heated too quickly or when paired with an acidic component, such as lemon or vinegar. When almond milk is mixed with hot tea or coffee, it can curdle.
If your almond milk seems lumpy inside its container, or if you’ve decanted it as a single ingredient, it may have gone bad. Give the container a brisk shake to make sure. If it still appears curdled, it’s better to presume it’s no longer safe to eat.
What if almond milk separates?
One popular misconception is that if it separates, it’s terrible, but “all almond milk will naturally separate,” according to Carolyn. “Stabilizers and emulsifiers will cause shelf stable products to separate more slowly, but this is natural, typical, and not a symptom of deterioration. Just shake the milk before using,” she explains.
Is there a method to keep it fresh for a longer period of time?
Regardless of the sort of almond milk you purchase, temperature regulation is essential for keeping it fresh. Carolyn suggests placing fresh and opened self-stable milk in the back of the fridge, where the temperature is coolest and most consistent, rather than the door, where the temperature can fluctuate.
Can you freeze almond milk?
It’s debatable if you should freeze almond milk.
Manufacturers (for example, Silk) do not advocate it. That’s because the liquid’s texture changes after thawing, and it’s no longer as good as it was before freezing.
It’s impossible to dispute that freezing nut milks works in this manner.
However, many individuals, particularly those who do not consume it and solely use almond milk in recipes, freeze the leftovers to save waste. And you have the ability to make it work.
Almond milk that has been frozen and thawed works wonderfully in baked or cooked meals. In such recipes, the texture shift is barely perceptible and has little impact on the final product’s quality.
Freezing almond milk for drinking, on the other hand, is not a good idea. The texture has changed, and the milk is lumpy rather than silky. In other words, it’s downright repulsive.
In general, you can freeze almond milk for cooking and baking. For more information, see my guide to freezing almond milk.