Oatmilk has become an increasingly popular plant-based milk alternative in recent years. Many coffee drinkers are switching to oatmilk creamer as a dairy-free way to lighten up their morning cup of joe. But like any perishable food, oatmilk creamer has a limited shelf life. Knowing the signs of spoiled oatmilk can help you avoid accidentally consuming bad creamer in your coffee.
What is the Shelf Life of Oatmilk Creamer?
The exact shelf life of oatmilk creamer depends on the specific brand and variety you buy. In general, commercially packaged oatmilk creamers have a shelf life of 7-10 days once opened. Unopened oatmilk creamer sold in sealed cartons or bottles can typically last 5-7 days past the printed “best by” date on the package when stored properly.
For homemade oatmilk creamers, the shelf life is much shorter – only about 3-4 days when refrigerated in an airtight container. The higher fat content and lack of preservatives in homemade creamers means they tend to spoil faster than commercial varieties.
How to Tell When Oatmilk Creamer Has Gone Bad
Watch for these signs that your oatmilk creamer has spoiled and should be discarded:
- Sour smell – Fresh oatmilk creamer has a mild, nutty, oat aroma. If it starts smelling sour or rancid, it’s gone bad.
- Change in consistency – Bad creamer will appear curdled, lumpy, or separated.
- Mold growth – Check the creamer carefully and discard if you see any fuzzy mold starting to develop.
- Off tastes – Spoiled creamer will simply not taste pleasant. It may have a bitter, sour, or “off” flavor.
Trust your senses – if oatmilk creamer smells, looks, or tastes unpleasant in any way, err on the side of caution and throw it out.
How to Store Oatmilk Creamer Properly
To get the longest shelf life out of your oatmilk creamer and avoid premature spoilage:
- Store unopened oatmilk creamer in the refrigerator.
- Keep opened creamer refrigerated in an airtight container.
- Don’t store creamer containers on refrigerator door, where the temperature fluctuates.
- Check “best by” dates and use oldest creamers first.
- Give creamer a sniff test before adding to coffee, even if within dates.
- Don’t mix old and new batches of creamer together.
With proper refrigerated storage, unopened oatmilk creamer can last 5-7 days past its printed expiration date. But once opened, it generally lasts just 7-10 days.
Can You Safely Use Oatmilk Creamer That Smells a Bit Off?
It’s not recommended to take any chances with oatmilk creamer that smells or looks questionable. Even a small amount of spoiled dairy or plant-based creamer can make your coffee unpleasant or cause stomach issues if consumed.
Oatmilk in particular has a relatively neutral aroma when fresh. So if you detect sour, bitter, or “off” odors, that’s a definite red flag not to use it. Don’t try to mask the flavor in coffee or “power through” a bad smelling creamer.
When in doubt, remember it’s not worth risking an upset stomach or unpleasant coffee to salvage a cheaper container of possibly spoiled creamer. Safest bet is to discard and open a fresh container.
Can Expired Oatmilk Creamer Make You Sick?
Consuming oatmilk creamer just a few days past its printed expiration date likely won’t make you ill or have negative effects. However, once creamer has truly spoiled – with visible mold, putrid smells, or very off tastes – it may cause foodborne illness if consumed.
Some common symptoms from ingesting spoiled dairy or plant-based creamers include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps and pain
Severe cases may even require medical treatment for dehydration from excessive vomiting or diarrhea. Botulism poisoning is also a rare risk with any spoiled, non-refrigerated dairy products.
So while an expired date doesn’t necessarily mean creamer is harmful, you should always inspect it closely and never consume oatmilk creamer that’s clearly spoiled.
How to Tell When Homemade Oatmilk Creamer Goes Bad
The signs of spoiled homemade oatmilk creamer are similar to store-bought varieties – changes in smell, texture, appearance and taste. But homemade creamers have a shorter shelf life of just 3-4 days refrigerated.
Be extra vigilant when storing homemade oatmilk creamer:
- Check for signs of spoilage each time you use it.
- Discard after 3-4 days, even if it still appears fine.
- Never mix fresh batches with older creamer.
- Store in very airtight containers, as homemade creamer spoils fastest.
- Refrigerate immediately after making.
With diligent storage methods and frequent inspections, you can catch spoiled homemade creamers quickly before they become seriously bad or moldy.
Does Oatmilk Creamer Last Longer Than Dairy Creamer?
Oatmilk and dairy creamers generally have very similar shelf lives. Unopened, commercial oat and dairy creamers last 5-7 days past their printed expiration date when refrigerated. And once opened, both types last roughly 7-10 days before spoiling.
The key differences are:
- Dairy creamers may curdle and separate as they sour, while oatmilk appears more clumpy.
- Dairy creamers develop a distinct sour milk odor when bad.
- Homemade dairy creamers last only 2-3 days refrigerated.
So neither oatmilk nor dairy creamers have a clear shelf life advantage. Follow safe storage and consume opened containers within a week to maximize freshness of either type of creamer.
Can You Make Oatmilk Creamer Last Longer?
There are a few storage hacks that can potentially prolong the shelf life of oatmilk creamer by a day or two:
- Freeze it – Storing unopened oatmilk creamer in the freezer can extend its shelf life by 1-2 weeks past the “best by” date. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
- Add powdered milk – Mixing in just 1/4 tsp of powdered milk when making homemade oatmilk creamer can help it last a day or two longer.
- More preservatives – Adding a pinch of potassium sorbate when making homemade creamer can act as a preservative.
- Smaller containers – Storing homemade creamer in very small, airtight containers slows spoilage.
But overall, oatmilk creamer is highly perishable. Even with ideal storage methods, most opened creamers will stay fresh for no more than 7-10 days total.
Common Mistakes That Shorten Oatmilk Creamer’s Shelf Life
Avoid these common creamer storage mistakes that can shorten its shelf life:
- Not refrigerating after opening
- Leaving in pantry or cabinet after use
- Storing in refrigerator door
- Reusing old creamer containers without washing
- Combining older and newer creamer
- Using same creamer batch for too many days
- Not discarding leftovers from shared creamer pitchers
- Keeping past 7-10 days after opening
Always keep oatmilk creamer chilled, use clean utensils, and stick to the recommended 1 week shelf life once containers are opened. Discard any leftovers sooner than later.
Storing Oatmilk Creamer for Travel
If you want to take oatmilk creamer on the go for travel or your work commute, be mindful of proper storage for short trips:
- Only pack small amounts that will be fully consumed that day.
- Bring in a well-insulated cooler bag with ice packs.
- Store in insulated thermos if consuming over several hours.
- Fill a small reusable bottle and keep refrigerated until leaving.
- Never leave creamer sitting unrefrigerated more than 2 hours.
- Consume within 4 hours of initially refrigerating.
With careful packing methods and temperature control, oatmilk creamer can be kept cool enough for brief travel. But it’s always safest to minimize the time spent out of refrigeration.
Signs Your Refrigerator Temperature is Too Warm
An overloaded or malfunctioning refrigerator that’s not cold enough can lead to faster spoilage of creamers and other perishable foods. Watch for these signs your fridge is too warm:
- Creamer expires well before date on package
- Milk or juices spoil sooner than expected
- Leftovers mold or smell bad sooner
- Meat doesn’t feel cold to the touch
- Door isn’t sealing tightly
- Food feels warm after removing from fridge
- Fridge isn’t cold enough (below 40°F is ideal)
Try adjusting the temperature to be colder, reducing items stored inside, and cleaning coils and seals if you suspect your fridge isn’t keeping foods properly chilled.
The Bottom Line
Like any plant-based or dairy milk, oatmilk creamer has a limited lifespan after opening. While some expired foods may still be safe to consume, it’s not worth taking chances with potentially spoiled creamer.
Trust your eyes, nose and common sense – if your oatmilk creamer has any off smells, flavors, or appearance, it’s better to be safe and discard it. With proper refrigeration and use within 5-7 days of opening, you can enjoy fresh oatmilk creamer before it turns bad.