Does Coconut Milk Go Bad

Coconut milk is quickly gaining popularity as a dairy substitute. We all know that cow’s milk spoils, but does coconut milk go bad?

While vegans use coconut milk all the time, most meat-eaters use it rarely. Mostly in Asian meals, as a coffee creamer substitute, or in smoothies. It has a sweet taste with a consistency similar to dairy milk.

Unfortunately, many of us purchase a container or can of coconut milk, use it for a recipe and then let it sit in the fridge for weeks. Sadly, coconut milk does not last forever.

Let’s take a look at the specifics of its shelf life and some tips to preserve it better.

So Delicious coconut milk
(credit: Veganbaking.net)

How Long Does Coconut Milk Last

Coconut milk sold in carton should be used within a week to ten days of being opened (check out Silk’s FAQ). While you can still drink it after ten days, it won’t be nearly as fresh as it was within the first week after opening.

When it comes to canned coconut milk, its shelf life is a bit shorter. You should use canned coconut milk within 4 to 6 days after opening.

If you purchase a container or can of coconut milk and do not open it, consider the date printed on the container. It’s most likely a “best by” date, which means that the coconut milk should remain at peak quality up to that date.

That also means that it doesn’t spoil right after that date. It usually will be safe to use weeks or even months after that date as long as the container is unopened.

Tip

If you’re opening a carton of coconut milk that’s past its “best by” date, make sure to check if it’s still fine to use.

 PantryFridge
Unrefrigerated Carton Closed1 month after “Best by” 
Unrefrigerated Carton Opened 7 – 10 days
Canned Closed2 – 5 months after “Best by” 
Canned Opened 4 – 5 days
Homemade 1 – 2 days

Please note that the storage dates for unopened coconut milk are approximate.

Carton of Aroy D coconut milk
(credit: Marco Verch)

How To Store Coconut Milk

If you plan on using most or all of your coconut milk soon after opening the container, store it in the refrigerator. It is worth mentioning that coconut milk easily absorbs flavors from other foods in the refrigerator. Because of that, store it far away from any food items that have a strong smell and make sure the container is sealed tightly.

When it comes to canned coconut milk, some choose to transfer it into other containers so that it does not absorb the tinny flavor. Use either a plastic container or a covered glass one to store coconut milk that you would like to transfer out of a can.

Whenever you take your coconut milk out of the refrigerator, shake it vigorously to ensure that the contents are thoroughly mixed.

If you made coconut milk yourself, always store it in the fridge.

Can of coconut milk in supermarket
(credit: Leslie Seaton)

How to Tell If Coconut Milk is Bad

You should look for spoilage signs once a week has passed since the container’s opening.

You should be able to tell that your coconut milk has gone bad by its foul smell. Tasting a bit to see if it still has that fresh and slightly sweet taste is another way of checking if it’s bad.

If you use canned coconut milk, discard it if it tastes stale and tinny. This taste indicates that the milk has begun to absorb the can’s flavor. Some have also noticed that stale coconut milk develops a grey hue or pink-colored mold.

Beautiful halved coconut
Image used under Creative Commons from John Revo Puno

Can You Freeze Coconut Milk?

If you do not plan on using your opened coconut milk in the next couple of days, do not let it sit idly in the refrigerator. Freezing, just like for almond milk, is a good option to preserve coconut milk for longer.

Please note that coconut milk separates after freezing and thawing. That means that freezing makes sense only if you’re using it in cooking and baking, not drinking on its own.

The most versatile way to freeze coconut milk is to do it in ice cube trays. Here’s how:

  1. Pour the coconut milk into ice cube trays and chuck into the freezer.
  2. Wait until it has frozen into cube shapes, which usually takes at least a few hours.
  3. Take the tray out of the freezer and transfer the coconut milk cubes into a freezer bag.
  4. Transfer the bag into the freezer.

And voilà, you can easily thaw as much coconut milk as needed!

You can also freeze your coconut milk in an airtight container or a glass jar. It will not take long to defrost. Place it by your stove when it is in operation to cook another dish and its heat will help to defrost the frozen coconut milk rapidly.

Please note that you should use all of the liquid right away if you’re using this method to defrost it.

Coconut Milk FAQ

Does Coconut Milk Go Bad If Left Out/Not Refrigerated?

Unless you’ve bought your coconut milk in the refrigerated section, it can be stored at room temperature as long as it’s unopened.

After opening it should be stored in the fridge to keep its freshness for longer. If not refrigerated, it will deteriorate much faster than in the fridge. That means it can probably be left out for a couple of hours, maybe a day or so.

Always make sure if this milk alternative is okay to consume before using it if it was left out.

How Long Does Homemade Coconut Milk Last?

Since homemade coconut milk doesn’t have any preservatives, it lasts only a few days and should always be stored in the fridge. Using all of it the same day it was made is the best option.