Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk in recent years, with many people opting for this plant-based option for various reasons.
But what happens when you forget to put your unopened carton of almond milk in the fridge? Can it be left out at room temperature, or will it spoil?
In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of unopened almond milk and answer the question on everyone’s mind: can unopened almond milk be left out?
Let’s dive in and find out.
Can Unopened Almond Milk Be Left Out?
The short answer is no, unopened almond milk should not be left out at room temperature. While shelf-stable almond milk can be stored in a cool, dark place before opening, it still needs to be refrigerated once opened to prevent spoilage and the growth of harmful bacteria.
Unopened almond milk can be stored in a pantry or cabinet, away from heat and light. However, it’s important to note that the shelf life of unopened almond milk varies depending on the brand and type. Some brands may have a longer shelf life than others, so it’s always best to check the label for specific instructions.
It’s also important to note that homemade almond milk should always be refrigerated, even if unopened. This is because homemade almond milk is unpasteurized and can spoil quickly if left at room temperature.
The Shelf Life Of Unopened Almond Milk
The shelf life of unopened almond milk depends on the type of almond milk and the storage conditions. Shelf-stable almond milk that has not been opened can be stored in a cool, dark area like a pantry or cabinet. The “best by” or “sell by” dates on the package do not indicate food safety but rather the manufacturer’s assessment of peak quality. Unopened shelf-stable almond milk can generally stay at best quality for about 3 to 4 weeks after the date on the package when stored at room temperature.
It’s important to keep unopened shelf-stable almond milk away from direct sources of heat or light to extend its shelf life. However, once opened, shelf-stable almond milk needs to be refrigerated and consumed within 7 to 10 days regardless of whether it was purchased at room temperature or from the refrigerated section.
It’s worth noting that refrigerated almond milk, whether homemade or purchased from the store, needs to be refrigerated at all times. Leaving refrigerated almond milk out of the fridge for more than two hours at room temperature can lead to bacterial growth and food poisoning. If the temperature is above 90-degree Fahrenheit, it’s best not to leave almond milk out for more than an hour.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Almond Milk
The shelf life of almond milk is affected by several factors, including the type of almond milk and how it is stored. Shelf-stable almond milk typically has a longer shelf life than refrigerated almond milk, with an unopened carton lasting up to one to two months if stored in a cool, dark place away from sunlight and heat. However, once opened, it should be consumed within seven to ten days and refrigerated immediately.
Refrigerated almond milk tends to be ultra-pasteurized, which extends its shelf life. An unopened carton of refrigerated almond milk can last until the expiration date printed on the label, but once opened, it should be used within seven days. It’s important to check the use-by dates on the cartons while at the store and choose the farthest out date to ensure freshness.
Homemade almond milk or almond milk from a fresh local source doesn’t contain any additives to preserve it and will only last about five days even if properly stored in the refrigerator. It’s best to assume that homemade almond milk will only last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator at most.
It’s also essential to store almond milk properly to extend its shelf life. Almond milk should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark area away from sunlight and heat. Once opened, it should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated immediately. It’s also crucial to avoid storing almond milk in the door of the fridge where it’s susceptible to temperature fluctuations.
Ultimately, while guidelines exist for how long almond milk can last, the real test is how it looks, smells, and tastes. If there are any signs of spoilage or an unpleasant aroma, it’s best to discard it immediately.
Risks Of Leaving Unopened Almond Milk Out
Leaving unopened almond milk out at room temperature can pose several risks. While the milk may not immediately spoil, it can still be exposed to harmful bacteria and toxins that can grow and multiply over time. This is especially true if the milk is left out for an extended period of time, such as overnight.
Even if the unopened almond milk does not show any visible signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell or curdled texture, it can still contain harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly in warm temperatures, and unopened almond milk that is left out at room temperature can provide the perfect environment for bacterial growth.
In addition to the risk of foodborne illness, leaving unopened almond milk out at room temperature can also affect its taste and texture. Over time, the milk may become rancid or develop an off-flavor that can make it unpleasant to drink.
To prevent these risks, it’s important to always store unopened almond milk in a cool, dark place away from heat and light. Once opened, the milk should be promptly refrigerated and consumed within 7-10 days, according to the use-by-date instructions on the label.
How To Store Unopened Almond Milk Properly
To store unopened almond milk properly, it should be kept in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cabinet. It’s important to avoid exposing the container to direct sources of heat or light, as this can cause the milk to spoil more quickly.
When storing unopened almond milk, it’s also important to check the label for any specific storage instructions. Different brands and types of almond milk may have varying shelf lives, so it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
It’s worth noting that while shelf-stable almond milk can be stored at room temperature before opening, it still needs to be refrigerated once opened. This is because exposure to air and bacteria can cause the milk to spoil quickly.