So you’ve bought a few cartons of almond milk on a sale, and one of them still sits in the pantry. It’s past the date on the label, and you’re not sure if you can use it. Or maybe there’s a half-open carton sitting in the fridge for a few days already. In both situations one question comes up: does almond milk go bad?
Almond milk is one of the most popular non-dairy kinds of milk. Since it comes in a refrigerated and unrefrigerated variety, many people aren’t quite sure how to store it, if it requires refrigeration, and how long does it last. In this article, I try to simplify all of those aspects. If you’d like to learn a bit more about almond milk, read on.
How To Store Almond Milk
Storing almond milk is quite similar to storing soy milk. There are two kinds of this milk alternative available on the market: unrefrigerated and refrigerated. Let’s start with the former.
Unrefrigerated (or shelf stable) almond milk is quite similar to unrefrigerated coconut milk or dairy milk. You should store an unopened carton it in a cool and dark area, away from sources of heat. The pantry is usually the best choice, but a cabinet in the kitchen works too. Once you open the carton, you need always to seal it tightly and keep it refrigerated.
Refrigerated almond milk needs to sit in the fridge at all times. If you’re not sure if the nut milk you bought is shelf stable or not, think about where it was in the store. If it was in the refrigerated section, it definitely requires storing at low temperatures. As usual, make sure that it’s always sealed tightly when not in use.
When it comes to refrigerating almond milk, many producers, like Blue Diamond, recommend storing is away from the door. There’s because the door is usually the warmest part of the fridge and is prone to temperature fluctuations.
In short, before you open your store-bought almond milk, you should store it at a similar temperature to where it sat in the store. Once you open the carton, you should keep it refrigerated.
You should always refrigerate homemade almond milk.
Can You Freeze Almond Milk?
Freezing almond milk is somewhat controversial. Manufacturers, like Silk, don’t recommend it. That’s because the liquid changes its texture after thawing, and it’s definitely not as good as it was before freezing.
But many people, especially those who use almond milk only for baking, freeze leftovers to avoid waste. Plus frozen and thawed almond milk works fairly well in baked or cooked recipes. In such recipes, the change of texture isn’t that noticeable and doesn’t affect the quality of the end product that much. Freezing almond milk for drinking purposes isn’t a good idea, as the change of consistency makes the liquid unpalatable for most. In short, feel free to freeze almond milk for cooking and baking.
How Long Does Almond Milk Last
Once again, let’s start with shelf stable almond milk. This variety usually comes with a best-by or best-if-used-by date on the label. That date is an estimate of how long the milk will retain its freshness. Of course, since this liquid is shelf stable, it will usually last beyond that date. How long does shelf stable almond milk last past the printed date? It’s difficult to say, but you shouldn’t expect it to stay fresh for longer than 2 to 4 weeks. Beyond that period it’s probably better to discard the liquid right away. Once you open the carton, it can sit for about 7 to 10 days in the fridge.
Refrigerated almond milk usually comes with a use-by date. The use-by date is printed on refrigerated products, and it’s much more strict than a best-by date. That means that an unopened carton of this nut milk can last only a few days up to a week past the use-by date. Once you open the container, you have about a week to use its contents before it spoils.
When it comes to homemade almond milk, you should use it within 3 to 4 days. Store-bought varieties are pasteurized, so they last longer in the fridge than the drink you make yourself.
Last but not least, the quality of almond milk deteriorates quickly at room temperature. If you leave the milk out for an hour or two, it’s most likely perfectly fine. But if you accidentally left it out overnight, it’s better to discard it.
|Almond milk (shelf stable, unopened)||Best by + 2 – 4 weeks|
|Almond milk (shelf stable, opened)||7 – 10 days|
|Almond milk (refrigerated, unopened)||Use-by + 5 – 7 days|
|Almond milk (refrigerated, opened)||7 – 10 days|
|Homemade almond milk||3 – 4 days|
Please note that the dates above are approximate.
How To Tell If Almond Milk Is Bad
There are a few signs of spoilage of almond milk. First is an unusually bloated carton. If that happens, throw out the milk. Now pour half a glass of this dairy-free milk and give a sniff and a good look. If the smell isn’t fresh and nutty anymore, discard the milk. Same thing if you notice any lumps or discolorations in the liquid. If everything seems to be perfectly fine, give it a taste. If it tastes okay, feel free to use this milk. Otherwise, it’s past its prime, and you should get rid of it.
Of course, going through the process outlined above makes sense only if the date is within a reasonable period. If the almond milk is already opened for two weeks, just toss it out. Same thing if it’s 3 months past the best-by date. The first signs of spoilage are impossible to spot, so it’s safer to cut your losses and assume it’s spoiled.