When it comes to alternative milks, despite the rise of newcomers (banana milk, anyone?), almond milk continues to be among the most popular. And with good reason: It offers several nutritional benefits, including being high in protein, vitamin E, and healthy fats. Plus, it goes great with so many things—overnight oats, cereal, and pumpkin spice lattes, to name a few—making it a staple that’s great to always have on hand. But if you like us have ever wondered: Does almond milk go bad? Good news: We speed-dialed registered dietician Brittany Modell, RD, for the answer. Oh, and she also shared some tips on how to check whether your almond milk has gone bad if you’re a little iffy.
So really, does almond milk go bad?
The short answer is yes. Almond milk does go bad, and that goes for all types: shelf-stable, refrigerated, and homemade. The two contributing factors to keep in mind are expiration date and proper storage, according to Modell. For instance, she says, even if you opt for shelf-stable almond milk, it must be refrigerated after opening it, or else it will spoil.
How long almond milk lasts, by type
Modell says that homemade almond milk or a fresh bottle from a local purveyor, will typically go bad sooner than its store-bought counterparts since it doesn’t contain any additives to help preserve it. Expect a lifespan of five to seven days.
“Commercially made almond milk is usually ultra-pasteurized,” Modell says, which means it undergoes a heating process that kills bacteria and extends the product’s shelf life. For this type of milk, Modell recommends consuming it within seven days of opening the bottle. Her pro tip: “When possible, store it in the back of your fridge, where the temperature tends to be the coldest,” she says.
Shelf-stable unrefrigerated almond milk takes the longest to expire. Modell says it can typically last one to two months unopened, but it will vary by brand, so just be sure to check the expiration date. “Be sure to store in cool, dry, and dark areas away from sunlight and heat,” she adds. Once you open the bottle, it’s best to consume it within seven to 10 days. And once it’s open, pop it in the refrigerator, asap.
Signs that almond milk has gone bad
It smells sour
According to Modell, almond milk should smell slightly nutty and sweet. So, if you give it a good sniff and it smells more like sweaty workout clothes you left in a bag for too long, it’s time to toss it.
Packaging starts to swell
Once it spoils, the packaging may expand or puff up, Modell says.
The consistency changes
Almond milk that has gone bad can also become thick and clumpy. Modell notes that sometimes it does separate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s spoiled. Give it a good shake. If it’s still chunky after shaking, she recommends throwing it out.
Shopping for almond milk
What type of almond milk you purchase comes down to personal preference—for instance, sweetened vs. unsweetened.
The same goes for ingredients. Modell says some people enjoy almond milk with a creamy texture, which may contain more additives, while others may prefer theirs with minimal ingredients. There’s no right or wrong choice.
Also, Modell notes that almond milk is low-calorie, low-protein, so, if you’re looking for a substitute that’s more nutritionally similar to cow’s milk, she says soy milk may be a better option. And lastly, cost, access, and convenience are important factors to consider when shopping for almond milk. “It may make more sense for someone to purchase a shelf-stable option if they don’t go to the store often or if the price tag is more budget-friendly,” Modell says.
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