How can you tell if refrigerated almond milk is bad?

Almond milk has become a popular plant-based milk alternative for many people. However, like regular dairy milk, almond milk does eventually spoil and go bad. Knowing how to properly store almond milk and identify when it has gone bad is important for both food safety and avoiding waste.

How to Store Almond Milk

Properly storing unopened and opened almond milk is the first step to maximizing its shelf life. Here are some tips for storing almond milk:

  • Store unopened almond milk cartons in the refrigerator. Unopened, refrigerated almond milk generally stays fresh for 7-10 days past the printed “best by” or expiration date on the package.
  • Once opened, transfer any remaining almond milk to an airtight container or pour into a reusable glass bottle. This prevents absorption of fridge odors.
  • Use opened almond milk within 7-10 days. Keep refrigerated and make sure to screw lids on tightly.
  • Don’t store almond milk on the refrigerator door. The temperature fluctuations from opening/closing the door will cause it to spoil faster.
  • Check the “best by” or expiration date on the package and use the oldest almond milk first.
  • If you won’t use the almond milk by the expiration date, freeze it while still fresh. Thawed, frozen almond milk will last 5-7 days in the fridge.

How to Tell When Sealed Almond Milk is Bad

If stored properly in the fridge, unopened almond milk should stay fresh for at least a week past the printed expiration date. However, there are some signs that indicate sealed almond milk has already spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Bulging or distorted package – If the container looks puffed up or stretched out, gas has built up inside, likely from spoilage bacteria.
  • Mold presence – Check the packaging carefully and discard if you see any fuzzy mold spots or growth.
  • Curdled consistency – Gently shake the carton. If the milk seems thickened, clumpy, or curdled, it’s time to toss it out.
  • Sour odor – Give it a sniff when you open it. If you detect a distinct sour, buttery, or “off” smell, the milk has turned.

Signs Opened Almond Milk Has Spoiled

Once opened, almond milk will only last about a week in the fridge. Check for the following indicators that your refrigerated, opened almond milk has gone bad and needs to be discarded:

  • Change in color – Fresh almond milk is creamy white. Yellow or grey hues indicate spoilage.
  • Clumps or textural changes – Curdling, thickening, gumminess, or separation mean toss the milk.
  • Sour odor and taste – Rancid or unpleasant smells and tastes denote spoilage.
  • Gas bubbles – Bubbles or froth on the surface signals fermentation and spoilage.
  • Sliminess – Slime formation from bacteria growth makes spoiled milk stick to the glass.
  • Mold – Any fuzzy spots or building up around the bottle cap is a clear sign to discard the milk.

How Long Does Almond Milk Last After Opening?

The shelf life of opened almond milk depends on proper storage and handling. Here are some general timelines for how long almond milk lasts after opening when refrigerated:

  • 7-10 days – Commercially packaged almond milk from the grocery store will stay fresh for about one week past the “best by” date if refrigerated.
  • 5-7 days – Leftover almond milk or almond milk transferred to an airtight, reusable container will keep for up to one week.
  • 24 hours – Almond milk left sitting out on the counter or in the fridge with the lid off will only stay good for about a day.

The more contaminated the milk becomes with repeated exposure to air, hands, and utensils when pouring, the shorter its usable life. Keep refrigerated, closed containers in the back of the fridge and use clean utensils when dispensing to maximize opened almond milk shelf life.

Does Almond Milk Go Bad or Curdle?

Yes, almond milk does eventually spoil, curdle, and go bad – it doesn’t last forever. The proteins and fat in almond milk can degrade over time and start to break down, causing curdling or separation. Bacteria growth also causes almond milk to curdle and take on a slimy, chunky consistency.

Some separating of the nut milk solids from the liquids may naturally occur after a long storage time, but a gentle shake should re-blend it. Distinct thickening, clumping, and whey separation signals the milk has spoiled and should be discarded.

What Happens If You Drink Bad Almond Milk?

Drinking spoiled, curdled almond milk isn’t dangerous, but it can lead to some unpleasant effects. Potential symptoms from drinking bad almond milk include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach cramps or diarrhea
  • Bloating or gas
  • Bad taste sensations

The bacteria and mold growth in bad almond milk are what causes these gastrointestinal symptoms. Always err on the side of caution and throw out almond milk that smells, looks, or tastes off instead of taking a chance drinking it.

How to Use Up Almond Milk Before It Spoils

To avoid wasting money and having to dispose of spoiled milk, use up open almond milk within 5-7 days. Here are some easy ways to use up almond milk while it’s still fresh:

  • Pour it over cereal, oatmeal, or granola for breakfast
  • Blend into smoothies, protein shakes, or fruit smoothie bowls
  • Mix into soups, sauces, baked goods like muffins or pancakes
  • Stir into coffee, tea, hot chocolate
  • Use in place of regular milk when baking
  • Mix into overnight oats or chia pudding
  • Swirl into yogurt, cottage cheese, or rice pudding

Freezing is another option if you have a lot of leftover almond milk. Frozen almond milk can be thawed in the fridge and used within 5-7 days.

Can You Freeze Almond Milk to Extend Its Shelf Life?

Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of almond milk and prevent waste. Here are some tips for properly freezing almond milk:

  • Check “best by” date and only freeze unopened milk that is still fresh.
  • Give the carton a good shake before freezing to homogenize.
  • Pour milk into freezer-safe, airtight plastic bags or containers, leaving 1-inch headspace.
  • Flatten bags to freeze flat for efficient stacking and storage.
  • Seal containers tightly and label with date.
  • Freeze for up to 3 months at 0°F.
  • Thaw slowly in the fridge before using.
  • Use within 5-7 days for best quality and taste.
  • Do not refreeze thawed almond milk.

Freezing unopened almond milk is usually more successful than freezing opened containers, as every exposure to air and bacteria reduces shelf life. Handle frozen milk gently and don’t refreeze thawed milk.

Can You Save or Reuse Spoiled Almond Milk?

It’s not recommended to try to save or reuse almond milk once it has truly spoiled. The bacteria growth and chemical changes that occur are not reversible through cooking, freezing, or mixing into other foods or drinks. Consuming spoiled almond milk can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal issues.

With severe spoilage or mold contamination, the almond milk is unsafe for consumption and should be immediately discarded. Always err on the side of caution and throw out almond milk at the first signs of spoilage.

How to Properly Dispose of Bad Almond Milk

Don’t pour curdled or spoiled almond milk down the drain, as this can clog pipes. Here are some recommended ways to safely dispose of bad almond milk:

  • Seal it: Place the spoiled milk in an airtight bag or container to contain the smell before throwing it out.
  • Trash it: Put the sealed milk in your regular kitchen trash can for pick up.
  • Bury it: For larger amounts, you can bury the sealed milk in your compost pile or garden soil.
  • Dump carefully: If pouring a small amount down the drain, run hot water before and after to dilute and prevent pipe clogs.

Washing your hands after disposal prevents spreading bacteria from the spoiled milk. Clean any containers thoroughly with hot, soapy water before reuse.

How to Prevent Almond Milk from Spoiling

Practice proper storage, handling, and consumption habits to get the most life out of your almond milk and prevent premature spoilage:

  • Refrigerate promptly: Store unopened and opened containers in the fridge, not pantry.
  • Check dates: Purchase milk with most distant sell-by dates.
  • Limit exposure: Open cartons only when ready to pour to reduce air contact.
  • Use clean utensils: Don’t put mouth directly on spouts or cartons.
  • Store tightly sealed: Replace lids immediately to prevent spills or contamination.
  • Use quickly: Consume opened milk within 5-7 days.

Being aware of proper almond milk storage and freshness indicators allows you to catch spoilage early. Discard bad milk promptly to prevent contamination and foodborne illness.


Like regular dairy milk, almond milk eventually spoils and goes bad. However, you can maximize its shelf life by properly storing sealed and opened containers in the refrigerator. Watch for signs of spoilage like odor, texture, color, or mold changes. Toss bad milk and avoid consuming for food safety. Freezing extends shelf life, but spoiled milk cannot be reused. With proper handling and storage, almond milk can stay fresh for 7-10 days past its printed expiration date.

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