Does Coconut Water Go Bad?

A few months ago you bought a few bottles or tetra packs of coconut water to test it out. And it turns out that one or two of them still sit in the kitchen cabinet. That’s when the question “does coconut water go bad?” comes up.

Fortunately for you, unopened coconut water usually lasts quite a long time, and the bottles you’ve got should still be safe to drink.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about storage, shelf life, and signs of going bad of coconut water, continue reading.

Image used under Creative Commons from Phu Thinh Co

How to Store Coconut Water?

While coconut water isn’t by any means a sports drink, you should store it similar to Gatorade. That means you should keep it in a cool and dry area. The pantry is best for this purpose, but a cabinet in the kitchen works too.

The product is shelf-stable because it usually consists of only water and some coconut-derived sugar. As long as the bottle is unopened, there isn’t much there that can go bad. To retain the quality of coconut water for longer, keep the bottles or tetra packs away from sunlight and sources of heat.

Tip

Coconut water sold in aluminum cans is already protected from sunlight thanks to the can, so put it away from heat sources, and you’re good to go.

Once you open the container of coconut water, you should keep it in the fridge. The same thing goes when it comes to fresh coconut water you can get by opening a coconut.

If you don’t particularly enjoy this beverage chilled, pull it out of the fridge and leave it on the countertop for half an hour before drinking, so it warms up a bit.

Image used under Creative Commons from Mike Mozart

Can You Freeze Coconut Water?

That’s a question that doesn’t come up often, but it’s worth answering nonetheless.

For an unopened bottle of coconut water, there is no reason to freeze it. It has a pretty long shelf life, so you should be easily able to finish your supplies before the water goes bad.

Once you open the bottle, freezing is definitely an option if you can’t finish it within a few days. The question is: does it make sense to freeze leftover coconut water?

After thawing, it won’t taste that good and you probably won’t be happy about its flavor. I’d argue that discarding it is a better choice than freezing, but feel free to freeze it if you want. Make sure to leave some headspace in the container as the coconut water will expand once frozen.

Coconut water in natural packaging
(credit: Derek Story)

How Long Does Coconut Water Last

Coconut water usually comes with a “best-by” date on the label. That date informs you of how long, at the very least, the beverage will retain the best quality.

Of course, similarly to sports drinks and juices, unopened coconut water will last at least a few months past that date. There’s no way to determine how long it will last exactly. More often than not the beverage will be safe to drink after you open it, but the taste might not be that good if you stored it for a couple of years.

Once you open a bottle of coconut water, it starts to lose its quality quite fast.

Various manufacturers give different periods of how long will the coconut drink last after opening. In most cases, that period is between 3 and 5 days. Of course, the beverage won’t go bad after that few days, but its quality will noticeably drop. That means you’d likely prefer to discard it rather than to drink it.

 PantryFridge
Coconut water (unopened)Best by + 6 months 
Coconut water (opened) 3 – 5 days

Please note that the dates above are for the best quality only.

Coconut water with ice cubes
(credit: Markus Winkler)

How to Tell if Coconut Water Has Gone Bad?

Freshly opened coconut water has a pleasantly sweet aroma and a refreshing nutty taste. If the coconut water has gone bad, its color, smell, or appearance will change.

If the smell is strong or liquid’s consistency somewhat thick, get rid of it. Same thing if you notice any signs of carbonation.

Provided that the smell and consistency seem to be perfectly fine, it’s most likely perfectly safe to drink. Now it’s time to give it a taste. If the flavor has gone south, discard it for quality purposes. If it tastes okay, congratulations, enjoy your drink.

If you stored opened coconut water at room temperature for more than a day or in the fridge for more than a week, it’s better to stay on the safe side and throw it out. Chances are it’s still safe to drink, but there’s little point in risking foodborne illness for a few sips of coconut water.