Does Almond Milk Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

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Due to its nutritional properties and long shelf-life, almond milk has become an increasingly popular substitute for regular cow’s milk.

But does almond milk go bad if it’s not refrigerated?

After all, you can often find it sold in the pantry section of grocery stores so it seems like it doesn’t need any refrigeration.

Then again, you can also spot it right next to regular milk in the fridge aisle.

Does this mean that almond milk will spoil if you keep it out of your fridge?

And if it does, how long can you actually let it sit out?

Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more.

Does almond milk go bad if it’s not refrigerated?

Mass produced almond milk is made by emulsifying the fats in almonds with water and straining the resulting liquid through a hydraulic press.

The milk then undergoes an ultra-high temperature treatment which kills off harmful microorganisms.

Once this is done, almond milk gets packaged and prepared for shipping.

Depending on the package that’s used, almond milk either gets refrigerated or stored at room temperature.

The almond milk we see in the pantry section of supermarkets is sealed in a special type of aseptic packaging called a tetra pak.

Unlike plain cardboard boxes, the inside of tetra paks is lined with plastic which prevents air, light and microorganisms from entering.

This essentially slows down spoilage and preserves the quality of the milk for a longer period of time.

So does this mean that almond milk won’t spoil if it’s left out of the fridge?

Not exactly.

When a carton of almond milk is opened, it gets exposed to oxygen from the surrounding environment. This gives bacteria a chance to multiply and can cause the milk to spoil if it’s left out for too long. Due to this, almond milk needs to be kept refrigerated once it’s opened,even if it’s shelf-stable.

This guideline also applies to cartons of unopened almond milk that are bought from the fridge aisle.

Unlike tetra paks, these cartons allow air, light and bacteria to pass through even if they haven’t been opened.

Check Out: How long can eggs stay unrefrigerated?

How long can almond milk sit out?

Similar to dairy milk, the amount of time you can let almond milk sit out will depend on its packaging and whether it’s opened or not.

An opened carton of almond milk, regardless of its packaging, will be good for 2 hours at room temperature.

At temperatures above 90°F / 32.2°C, however, this time frame drops to only an hour.

Consuming almond milk that’s left out for a longer period of time isn’t recommended, since it puts you at risk of food poisoning.

Having said that, shelf-stable almond milk can last for up to 4 weeks after its “best-by” date at room temperature as long as it hasn’t been opened.

Once it’s opened, you should store almond milk in the fridge and consume it in the next 7 – 10 days.

If you’ve bought yours from the refrigerator section, then you shouldn’t let it sit out for more than 2 hours even if it’s unopened.

Find out: Can pumpkin pie sit out at room temperature?

How to tell if almond milk has gone bad?

Just like with any other type of food or beverage, there are few tell-tale signs that point to spoilage in almond milk.

The first and most obvious one is a swelling or bloating of the container. This usually happens when harmful bacteria produce gasses which cause the carton to expand.

So if your carton of almond milk seems bloated, your best bet is to toss it out and get another one.

Another way to check if almond milk has gone sour is by smelling it. Fresh almond milk smells slightly sweet and nutty.

If yours smells off putting or unusual you should probably send it on a one-way trip to your garbage bin.

In case it smells fine, you should put your almond milk through a final round of tests to determine if it’s worthy of your digestive tract.

Namely, you should pour it in a glass to check its consistency and color.

Since almond milk tends to separate, you should first give the glass a good shake.

If the milk is still fresh, it will return to its original consistency without having any lumps.

If there aren’t any textural changes, you should proceed and check its color.

The milk should have a silky white color without any black, green or brown spots.

If everything seems fine, you should tap yourself on the back and reward yourself with a big gulp of almond milk.

What happens if you accidentally drink almond milk left overnight?

As we’ve already established, leaving almond milk overnight can cause bacteria to multiply to dangerous levels and cause food poisoning.

This can be especially harmful to children, pregnant women and people with a compromised immune system.

The most common symptoms that arise from consuming spoiled almond milk are digestive tract issues such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

The severity of these symptoms will depend on the amount of bacteria that are present in the milk.

In mild cases, your immune system will be able to fend off the intruders by itself without any health complications.

If, however, you’re having severe stomach issues, it’s best to seek medical help right away.

With that said, if the milk you consumed was unopened and stored in a shelf-stable package, you’ll be out of harm’s way.

Shelf-stable almond milk can be safely stored at room temperature for roughly a month after its best-by date.

My conclusion

Using almond milk is a great way to replace regular milk if you’ve switched to a vegan diet or you just want to lower your cholesterol.

And even though it has a significantly longer shelf-life, you’ll still need to refrigerate it after opening.

Leaving opened almond milk for more than two hours at room temperature can cause it to spoil and put you in a tough spot.

So if you’ve accidentally left it on your counter for longer than that, it’s best to toss it out and buy a new carton.

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