Almond milk has become a popular alternative to dairy milk in recent years, with many people choosing it for its health benefits and delicious taste.
But have you ever wondered how almond milk is made and whether it’s ultra-pasteurized?
In this article, we’ll explore the process of making almond milk and the different types of pasteurization used. We’ll also discuss how long almond milk lasts and how to tell if it’s gone bad.
So, if you’re a fan of almond milk or just curious about its production, keep reading to learn more!
Is Almond Milk Ultra Pasteurized?
Yes, commercially made almond milk is usually ultra-pasteurized. This means that it undergoes a heating process that kills bacteria and extends its shelf life. During the pasteurization process, the milk is quickly heated to 280°F and then cooled down rapidly. This process helps to kill any existing bacteria and germs in the ingredients, which makes it safer to consume.
Almond milk found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store has been ultra-pasteurized, which gives it a little longevity. This type of almond milk should be stored in the fridge at all times and tightly sealed after each use to keep it from spoiling too soon. Once you open the carton, you generally have about 7 days to drink up before the milk goes bad. This is because opening the container allows oxygen to get in, which then lets bacteria breed.
Shelf-stable almond milk has the longest shelf life. If properly stored, it will typically last one to two months unopened and up to 10 days once it’s opened and refrigerated. However, keep in mind that these are only guidelines, as the shelf life of almond milk varies from brand to brand and depends on how well it’s stored.
The Process Of Making Almond Milk
Making almond milk at home is a relatively simple process, but it does require a high-speed blender. The first step is to soak the almonds in water overnight or for up to two days. The longer you soak the almonds, the creamier the milk will be. Soaking saturates the nut from the inside out, producing smoother, creamier almond milk. You can also add a teaspoon of salt to the soaking water to help activate the almonds and neutralize enzyme inhibitors in the nuts.
Once the almonds are done soaking, drain the water and rinse the nuts thoroughly. Then, add the soaked almonds and fresh water to a high-speed blender and blend on high until all of the almonds have broken down and the mixture is frothy. A high-speed blender is a must-have when it comes to making nut milk. It blends so thoroughly that it breaks down cell walls, making the nut milk smooth and creamy.
The almond milk will look creamy at this stage but still have little almond pieces. So, set a nut milk bag over a large bowl or measuring cup with a spout and pour the milk in. Bring the top of the bag together and use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You could also use cheesecloth, but it’s not very practical – it needs to be doubled or tripled; otherwise, it comes apart and is nearly impossible to wash. Nut milk bags work so much better because they are already bag-shaped, don’t stretch over time, are resistant to picking up stains or food odors, and can be easily washed.
Note that leftover almond pulp, also known as almond meal, is perfectly fine to use. You can transfer it to a baking sheet and spread it into a thin, even layer. Bake the almond pulp at 200°F/93.3°C until dry for 2-3 hours or dehydrate it at 115°F/46.1°C until dry for 4-8 hours.
What Is Ultra-Pasteurization?
Ultra-pasteurization is a heating process that is used to extend the shelf life of milk and other dairy products. During this process, the milk is heated to a minimum of 280°F for at least two seconds. Although the heating period is much shorter than what’s used for regular pasteurization, the high heat used in the process is much more lethal to bacteria. The packaging conditions for ultra-pasteurized milk are also more stringent, practically sterile. This means that when properly refrigerated, ultra-pasteurized milk can last from 30 to 90 days after processing and before the container is opened. After opening, the milk could become contaminated with spoilage bacteria, but you can generally count on it to remain fresh for at least seven to 10 days after the container is opened.
Ultra-pasteurization is also used in the production of almond milk. Commercially made almond milk is usually ultra-pasteurized to extend its shelf life and make it safer to consume. This heating process helps to kill any existing bacteria and germs in the ingredients, which makes it safer to consume. However, it’s important to note that ultra-pasteurization can also affect the taste and texture of almond milk, making it taste more “cooked” than regular almond milk.
Types Of Pasteurization Used In Almond Milk Production
There are two main types of pasteurization used in almond milk production: regular pasteurization and ultra-pasteurization. Regular pasteurization involves heating the milk to a temperature of 161°F (71°C) for at least 15 seconds, while ultra-pasteurization heats the milk to a higher temperature of 280°F (138°C) for a shorter amount of time.
Ultra-pasteurization is a more intense process than regular pasteurization and allows milk to have a longer shelf life. It’s heated to 280°F at the minimum, which means that it’s able to kill almost all of the bacteria that the normal pasteurization process may have missed. The equipment it’s processed on is typically sterilized and sealed. Ultra-pasteurized almond milk should be stored in the fridge at all times and tightly sealed after each use to keep it from spoiling too soon. Once you open the carton, you generally have about 7 days to drink up before the milk goes bad.
Regular pasteurization, on the other hand, is a milder process that still kills most bacteria but allows some beneficial enzymes and bacteria to survive. This type of pasteurization is used in some brands of almond milk, but it has a shorter shelf life compared to ultra-pasteurized almond milk.
It’s worth noting that homemade almond milk is not pasteurized unless you heat it up to a high enough temperature yourself. This means that homemade almond milk has a shorter shelf life and should be consumed within a few days or frozen for later use.
How Long Does Almond Milk Last?
The shelf life of almond milk is dependent on a few factors, including the type of almond milk and how it is stored. Homemade almond milk or almond milk from a fresh local source doesn’t contain any additives to preserve it, so it will only last about five days even if properly stored in the refrigerator. On the other hand, store-bought refrigerated almond milk tends to be ultra-pasteurized, which is a heating and cooling process that kills bacteria and extends shelf life. Once opened, it should last up to seven days when properly stored in the refrigerator.
Shelf-stable almond milk has the longest shelf life. If properly stored, it can typically last one to two months unopened and up to 10 days once it’s opened and refrigerated. However, these are only guidelines, as the shelf life of almond milk varies from brand to brand and depends on how well it’s stored.
It’s important to note that the recommended shelf life for almond milk is based on optimal conditions. Alternative milks can last longer than 7-10 days even if they are not maintained under the most ideal conditions. For example, refrigerated almond milk can last considerably longer if kept consistently refrigerated and with the lid on tight. It’s also important to keep an eye out for any changes in appearance, smell, or taste, as these are telltale signs that the almond milk has gone bad.
In general, once opened, almond milk is only good for about 3 to 10 days depending on your preferred type. Homemade almond milk goes bad the fastest and should be consumed within a few days. Almond milk that has gone bad will usually start to look lumpy, clumpy, or inconsistent. It’ll also start to smell funny, and the taste will be off. For shelf-stable products, a bloated carton can signal contaminated milk before it’s even opened.
Signs Your Almond Milk Has Gone Bad
It can be difficult to tell if almond milk has gone bad, but there are a few signs to look out for. One of the most obvious signs is a sour taste, which can indicate that the milk has started to spoil. Additionally, if the texture of the milk has become thicker or clumpy, this can also be a sign that it has gone bad.
Another sign to look out for is a funky or off smell. Almond milk should have a neutral, slightly sweet aroma, so if you notice any unusual or unpleasant odors, this could be an indication that the milk is no longer good to consume.
It’s important to note that the shelf life of almond milk depends on several factors, including whether it’s homemade or store-bought, and whether it’s been opened or not. It’s always best to check the expiration date on the container and follow any storage instructions provided by the manufacturer.
In general, if you’re unsure whether your almond milk has gone bad or not, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it out. Consuming spoiled almond milk can lead to food poisoning and other health issues, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.