Can you drink unopened expired coconut water?

Quick Answer

Generally, it’s not recommended to drink expired coconut water, even if the container is still sealed. Coconut water is perishable and can go bad once opened or after the expiry date has passed. However, unopened, commercially packaged coconut water may still be safe to consume several months past the expiry date, as long as it was stored properly and there are no signs of spoilage. Use your best judgment – if the taste, smell or appearance seems off, it’s better to be safe and discard it.

What happens when coconut water expires?

Coconut water is the clear liquid found naturally inside young, green coconuts. It’s a highly perishable food product that can go bad due to microbial growth or chemical changes over time. Here are some of the common signs that coconut water has expired:

  • Changes in color – Fresh coconut water should be clear and colorless. As it starts to go bad, it may turn pink, yellow or brown.
  • Changes in smell – Unopened expired coconut water may develop an sour, fermented smell.
  • Changes in taste – The taste may become vinegary, bitter, sour or acidic as coconut water spoils.
  • Gas buildup – Expired coconut water may develop carbonation as gases from microbial growth accumulate.
  • Mold growth – If contaminated and expired for a long time, mold may visibly grow in the coconut water.
  • Nutrient loss – Over time, the nutrients in coconut water, like electrolytes, vitamins and minerals, degrade.

These changes occur due to chemical reactions like oxidation as well as microbial growth of yeast, mold and bacteria. Preservatives may help slow these processes, but cannot prevent expiration and degradation indefinitely.

How long does unopened coconut water last past the expiry date?

The shelf life of coconut water depends on several factors:

  • Packaging – Coconut water in aseptic, shelf-stable Tetra Pak cartons lasts longer unopened than coconut water in plastic bottles or cans.
  • Preservatives – Some brands use preservatives which extend shelf life. Check the label.
  • Storage temperature – Unopened coconut water lasts longer when stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Freshness – Fresher coconut water will last longer. Check the bottling date.

With proper storage and packaging, commercially prepared coconut water may last:

  • Shelf-stable Tetra Pak: 9-12 months past the expiry date when unopened.
  • Plastic bottles or cans: 2-3 months past the expiry date when unopened.

However, these are general guidelines only. Some brands of coconut may degrade faster while others last longer. Always inspect before consuming expired coconut water.

Is it safe to drink expired coconut water?

While not recommended, drinking unopened, commercially packaged coconut water that is recently expired is generally low risk if:

  • It was properly stored sealed in a cool, dark place.
  • There are no visible signs of spoilage like off-odors, textures or carbonation.
  • You consume it immediately after opening.

Aseptic Tetra Pak containers in particular create a near oxygen-free environment that limits microbial growth.

However, safety cannot be guaranteed. Over time, even sealed coconut water can support the growth of mold, yeast and harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness or digestive issues. Chemical changes can also occur affecting color, taste, smell and nutrient content.

Risks are higher with:

  • Bottled or canned coconut water (less shelf-stable than Tetra Pak).
  • Longer expired products.
  • Improper storage conditions.
  • Signs of spoilage upon opening.

If you have any doubts, it’s best to discard expired coconut rather than risk getting sick.

Does expired coconut water make you sick?

Drinking expired coconut water that has spoiled can make you sick, especially if mold or bacteria has grown in the product.

Potential symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain, cramps
  • Headache, fatigue, weakness
  • Fever, chills (in severe cases)

These are signs of a foodborne illness, caused by consuming coconut water contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, viruses or toxins.

However, the risk is low with unopened, commercially packaged coconut water that has been recently expired and properly stored. Signs of spoilage like off-odors, taste and carbonation indicate it may be contaminated and should be discarded.

Some people may have mild stomach discomfort when drinking older coconut water as oxidation and microbial growth can produce acids and gases. But serious illness is unlikely unless other signs of spoilage are present.

When in doubt, do not consume expired coconut water that looks or smells abnormal.

Tips for storing coconut water

To extend the shelf life of unopened coconut water:

  • Purchase coconut water packaged in shelf-stable Tetra Pak cartons whenever possible.
  • Avoid buying more than you can consume within the expiry period.
  • Inspect packaging for damage or swelling before purchasing.
  • Store sealed coconut water in a cool, dry place around 55°F or below.
  • Keep away from direct sunlight and sources of heat.
  • Once opened, refrigerate and consume within 2-3 days.
  • Do not store in the refrigerator long-term before opening.
  • Freeze for longer term storage of up to 9 months.
  • Discard immediately if expired, leaking, bulging or odors/textures seem off.

Proper cold storage before and after opening helps retard chemical changes and microbial growth in coconut water, maintaining safety and extending shelf life. However, always observe the expiry date as a guide and use your judgment before drinking.

Can you freeze expired coconut water?

Freezing can extend the shelf life of unopened, sealed coconut water beyond the expiry date. The low temperatures inhibit most microbial growth and slow chemical changes.

Frozen, commercially packaged coconut water may last 6-9 months in the freezer past the printed expiry date. However, quality will gradually decline over time.

To freeze expired coconut water:

  • Check for damage, swelling or leaks before freezing.
  • Place unopened coconut water cartons or bottles in freezer safe bags.
  • Exclude as much air as possible.
  • Freeze at 0°F or below for best quality retention.
  • Use within 6-9 months for best flavor, texture and nutrient retention.

Once thawed, previously frozen coconut water should be consumed immediately. Do not refreeze.

Inspect for odors, changes in color or carbonation that indicate spoilage before drinking thawed coconut water. When in doubt, discard.

Can you eat expired coconut?

The coconut itself tends to have a longer shelf life than the water inside. Still, freshness and quality decline over time after harvest. Visible mold growth indicates coconut meat has spoiled and should be discarded.

Refrigeration can extend the shelf life of whole coconuts. Signs that a whole coconut is past its prime include:

  • Moldy appearance.
  • Cracking, shriveling or sunken “eyes”.
  • Off odors.
  • Dark or moist inner shell when opened.
  • Pale, dried out coconut meat.

Unopened, packaged coconut meat, milk, cream and flakes typically last 5-7 days past the “best by” date if refrigerated. Discard if any odor, color changes or mold growth are evident.

Although eating expired coconut meat is unlikely to make you sick, the texture and flavor will be inferior. Storing whole coconuts and opened products in the fridge can help prolong freshness.

Does expiration affect coconut water nutrition?

Over time, the nutrient content of coconut water degrades:

  • Vitamins like folate and vitamin C break down with exposure to light and air.
  • Minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium remain stable but may leach into packaging over long storage periods.
  • Antioxidant compounds and polyphenols deteriorate as part of chemical oxidation.
  • Natural electrolytes decrease in concentration.

Loss of nutrients increases the longer coconut water sits on the shelf, especially for products stored at room temperature.

Drinking recently expired coconut water from well-sealed Tetra Pak cartons stored in cool, dark conditions will have better nutrient retention compared to warmer storage or bottled varieties.

But there will be some loss of vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes compared to fresh coconut water. Consume expired versions only occasionally, not as a daily nutritional supplement, for best quality.

Can expired coconut water make you dehydrated?

Contrary to myth, drinking expired or fermented coconut water cannot dehydrate you. However, degradation of electrolytes over time may reduce its effectiveness as a hydration aid compared to fresh coconut water.

When first harvested, coconut water contains electrolyte minerals like potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium similar in profile and concentration to many sports drinks. This helps it more effectively hydrate compared to plain water.

But as coconut water expires, the electrolyte content diminishes. While dated coconut water can still provide hydration, its electrolyte profile may no longer optimally support rehydration and fluid absorption.

Drinking large volumes of very old, expired coconut water could potentially have a mild diuretic effect due to changing acidity levels. But it will not cause dehydration or electrolyte loss on its own.

Does expired coconut water have probiotics?

Coconut water does not naturally contain probiotics, beneficial live microorganisms that can improve gut health. However, over time as coconut water expires and starts fermenting, some strains of probiotic bacteria as well as yeast can grow in the anaerobic environment if contaminated.

But the types of probiotics that may be found in expired, fermented coconut water are unpredictable. Growth depends on specific bacteria and yeast that are present, which can vary. Some may be beneficial but others neutral or even potentially harmful gut microbes.

Fermented coconut water should not be relied upon as a probiotic supplement, as the strains are not characterized or controlled. Fresh young coconut water also does not undergo natural fermentation on the tree.

Other fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi and kombucha are better sources of known, verified probiotic cultures. They are produced under controlled conditions designed to maximize beneficial probiotic growth.

Can you make wine from expired coconut water?

Technically yes, expired coconut water can be used to make a basic wine by fermenting the natural sugars into alcohol.

Allowing unopened, expired coconut water to sit at room temperature allows wild yeasts to grow and convert sugars into ethanol and carbon dioxide, similarly to grape wine production.

However, this homemade coconut “wine” is unlikely to taste good. Flavor will range considerably batch to batch based on uncontrolled fermentation factors. Proper aging and blending processes used in winemaking are also absent.

While not toxic if fully fermented, coconut wine may contain high levels of acetic acid that gives vinegar its sour taste. Yeasts and bacteria growth produce this acid as a byproduct. Too much can cause a harsh, acidic flavor.

For these reasons, using expired coconut water for DIY winemaking is not recommended. Intentional fermentation is better left to actual fruits like grapes with more suitable flavor profiles for wine.


Drinking expired coconut water is generally not recommended, even if the container remains sealed. Over time, coconut water still undergoes chemical changes and degradation in quality.

However, an unopened, commercially packaged product that has been recently expired and properly stored may be safe to consume if there are no signs of spoilage present.

For best quality and food safety, properly refrigerate and freeze unopened coconut water, observe expiry dates, inspect packaging carefully before use, and consume opened cartons within 2-3 days. Discard any coconut water that smells, looks or tastes abnormal.

While drinking recently expired, unopened coconut water stored in Tetra Pak cartons presents low risk of illness in most cases, it cannot be guaranteed 100% safe. Always exercise caution and use your best judgment before consuming any expired food product.

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