Almond milk that has been refrigerated and unopened can generally be safely consumed within 7-10 days of the printed expiration date. However, almond milk that has been opened should not be kept for more than 7 days in the refrigerator before use. Once opened, the quality and safety of almond milk decreases over time due to exposure to air and bacteria. Drinking spoiled almond milk can potentially lead to foodborne illness.
How Long Does Almond Milk Last When Unopened?
The shelf life of unopened almond milk depends on a few factors, including the best by date printed on the carton and how it is stored:
- Unopened almond milk typically lasts 5-7 days past the printed best by or expiration date, as long as it has been continuously refrigerated.
- Unopened, shelf-stable almond milk that has not been refrigerated will generally stay safe for use up to a year past the printed date.
- The fridge door is the warmest part of the refrigerator. Store unopened almond milk towards the back of the fridge, where temperatures are cooler.
- The shelf life of almond milk may be shortened if it has been improperly stored, such as left sitting out at room temperature or exposed to temperature fluctuations.
So an unopened carton of almond milk stored in the refrigerator should be good for 7-10 days past the printed date, provided the milk has been handled properly.
How Long Does Almond Milk Last When Opened?
Once opened, the shelf life of almond milk is shortened due to exposure to air and increased risk of contamination:
- Opened almond milk will stay fresh in the fridge for 5-7 days past the printed date.
- Drinkable for up to 7 days after opening, provide it has been refrigerated the entire time.
- Keeping the cap tightly sealed and storing towards the back of the fridge helps maximize freshness.
- Transferring almond milk to an airtight container is another way to help it last longer after opening.
So opened almond milk should ideally be consumed within one week of opening for safety and best quality.
How to Tell if Almond Milk Has Gone Bad
Almond milk that has gone bad can make you sick, so it’s important to know how to identify signs of spoilage:
- Sour smell/taste: Fresh almond milk should have a mild, nutty smell and flavor. Rancid or sour odors/tastes indicate spoilage.
- Clumping/curdling: As it spoils, almond milk may begin to separate and form clumps or curds.
- Mold: Check almond milk carefully for fuzzy mold spots, which signal it has spoiled.
- Gas/bubbles: Built up gas and bubbles inside the carton often means fermentation has begun.
- Discoloration: Separation and a yellow or grey tinge points to spoiled milk.
If your almond milk exhibits any of these signs, it’s best to throw it out. Always give opened and unopened almond milk a quick sniff test before consuming as well.
What Happens If You Drink Spoiled Almond Milk?
Drinking almond milk after the expiration date is not guaranteed to make you sick, but the risk does increase over time. Here’s what can happen if you consume spoiled almond milk:
- Foodborne illness – Drinking rancid almond milk puts you at risk for food poisoning. Spoiled milk contains bacteria that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and cramps.
- Unpleasant symptoms – At the very least, consuming spoiled milk may result in temporary digestive upset like nausea, bloating, and gas.
- Allergic reaction – Spoiled proteins in bad almond milk are more likely to cause food allergy symptoms in sensitive individuals.
So while an expired date doesn’t necessarily mean almond milk has gone bad, it’s not worth the chance of getting sick by drinking milk that is over 7-10 days old. Best to play it safe and toss almond milk after a week once opened or 10 days past the date if unopened.
Tips for Storing Almond Milk Correctly
To help almond milk stay fresh as long as possible:
- Check the date – Don’t purchase cartons that are already near the expiration date.
- Refrigerate promptly – As soon as you get home from the store, place almond milk in the fridge.
- Store sealed – After use, screw the cap back on tightly and return almond milk to the fridge right away.
- Keep cold – Ensure your fridge temperature is set to 40°F or below.
- Avoid warmth – Don’t leave almond milk sitting out on the counter or in the pantry.
- Use clean utensils – Always use a clean spoon to scoop out almond milk to avoid introducing bacteria.
- Check for signs – Do a sniff test and look for any curdling or gas bubbles before consuming.
Following proper storage methods and checking for signs of spoilage before drinking will help ensure almond milk stays safe to enjoy within a week after opening.
Can Spoiled Almond Milk Make You Sick?
Yes, consuming almond milk that has gone bad can potentially make you sick. Here’s why:
- Harmful bacteria like staphylococcus, salmonella, and E. coli can grow in spoiled milk, leading to foodborne illness.
- Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, and fatigue.
- Food poisoning from contaminated almond milk can take 12-48 hours after ingestion to develop.
- Babies, elderly individuals, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk of infection.
- Healthy adults may be able to consume small amounts of spoiled milk without getting sick.
- But there is no way to know for sure if spoiled milk contains dangerous bacteria or not, so it is best avoided altogether.
Consuming almond milk even a few days past the recommended shelf life can be risky business. Always err on the side of caution and throw out almond milk after 7-10 days maximum for safety.
Does Almond Milk Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?
Almond milk can go bad if left unrefrigerated, depending on the type:
- Refrigerated almond milk – Goes bad within 2 hours if left out at room temperature, due to rapid bacteria growth.
- Shelf-stable almond milk – Remains safe at room temperature unopened until the expiration date. But lasts only 2 hours once opened.
- Lactose-free almond milk – Generally requires refrigeration before and after opening, just like regular refrigerated almond milk.
- Organic almond milk – Spoils more quickly unrefrigerated compared to conventional pasteurized almond milk.
The bottom line is refrigeration is necessary both before and after opening standard almond milk cartons for safety. Shelf-stable milk can be stored in the pantry but must be refrigerated and used within a week of opening. Leaving any type of opened almond milk unrefrigerated for over 2 hours allows rapid bacteria proliferation.
Can You Freeze Almond Milk?
Yes, freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of almond milk. Here are some freezing tips:
- Only freeze unopened cartons, or transfer opened almond milk to airtight containers first.
- Lay cartons flat in the freezer to save space and freeze faster.
- Almond milk can be frozen for 2-3 months before significant quality loss occurs.
- Defrost frozen milk overnight in the fridge before using.
- Give thawed milk a shake or stir before drinking as separation can occur during freezing.
- Frozen and thawed almond milk may have slightly thicker texture and muted flavor.
Freezing prevents bacteria growth, allowing almond milk to keep for several months versus just 1 week in the fridge. But thaw properly in the refrigerator and use thawed milk within 1 week for best quality.
Does Almond Milk Expire?
Yes, almond milk does expire and has a limited shelf life:
- Unopened, refrigerated almond milk typically expires 7-10 days after the printed “best by” date.
- Once opened, almond milk expires 5-7 days past the printed date.
- Proper refrigeration is key to getting the most shelf life out of almond milk before it expires.
- Heat, sunlight exposure, and temperature fluctuations also accelerate expiration.
- Expired almond milk has higher bacteria levels and greater risk of foodborne illness.
- Rancid odors, curdling, mold growth, and gas bubbles mean almond milk has expired and should be discarded.
While almond milk may still be drinkable up to 7-10 days after its sell by date, its quality and safety rapidly declines. Consuming expired almond milk is not recommended, especially for those with compromised immunity or sensitivity to foodborne pathogens.
How to Store Almond Milk Properly
Follow these tips for proper storage to extend the shelf life of almond milk:
- Purchase almond milk 1-2 weeks before the expiration date.
- Refrigerate unopened almond milk immediately at 40°F or below.
- Store unopened cartons towards the back of the fridge, away from the door.
- Keep the cap tightly sealed on opened containers.
- Transfer opened milk to an airtight container if not finishing quickly.
- Use clean utensils each time when scooping out almond milk.
- Keep the fridge clean to avoid cross-contamination with old spills.
- Finish opened almond milk within 7 days.
Proper refrigeration and an airtight seal are essential to maximize the shelf life of almond milk after opening. Avoid storing it anywhere warm or leaving the cap off for extended periods.
Does Spoiled Almond Milk Smell?
Yes, spoiled almond milk gives off a distinct rancid odor. Here’s how to identify when your almond milk has gone bad by smell:
- Fresh almond milk has a pleasant, subtle nutty smell.
- As it starts to spoil, almond milk smells sour and unpleasant.
- Rotten or moldy odors indicate the milk has spoiled and should be discarded.
- Give the milk a sniff test before consuming to check for bad odors.
- Off smells may be easier to detect in lactose-free or organic varieties.
- A spoiled milk smell means bacteria have multiplied to dangerous levels.
- If it smells bad, err on the side of caution and throw it out.
A foul, sour milk odor is one of the first warning signs of spoilage. If your refrigerated almond milk smells off, it is past its prime and could potentially make you sick if consumed. When in doubt, sniff out!
Almond milk that has been continuously refrigerated should stay fresh and drinkable for 7-10 days past the printed sell by or expiration date, provided the carton remains sealed. Once opened, almond milk should be discarded after one week in the fridge even if within the expiration date, due to rapid bacterial growth. Consuming almond milk over 7-10 days old comes with increased risks of foodborne illness, especially for those with compromised immunity. Always inspect almond milk for signs of spoilage like off-smells, curdling, gas pockets, and discoloration and err on the side of caution if it seems over the hill. Proper refrigeration and sealed storage are keys to maximizing the shelf life once a carton is opened. Freezing unopened containers can also significantly prolong the shelf life of almond milk. But ultimately, almond milk does expire and is not recommended for consumption more than 7-10 days past its printed date of expiration.