As someone who has recently switched to a plant-based diet, I have been exploring various milk alternatives, with oat milk being my personal favorite. Not only is it creamy and delicious, but it’s also a sustainable and environmentally-friendly choice.
However, like all food products, I began to wonder “How long does oat milk last?”. After doing some research, I realized that knowing the shelf life of oat milk is crucial for both safety and taste reasons.
In this blog post, I’ll dive into the factors that affect the shelf life of oat milk and provide some tips for extending its lifespan.
History of oat milk
Oat milk is a relatively new addition to the plant-based milk market, gaining popularity in recent years as more people adopt vegan and vegetarian diets. The origins of oat milk can be traced back to Sweden in the 1990s, where it was first developed as a dairy-free option for people with lactose intolerance.
The popularity of oat milk soon spread to other European countries, and in recent years, it has become increasingly popular in North America and other parts of the world. Today, oat milk is a common sight in grocery stores and coffee shops, with many people embracing it as a healthy and delicious alternative to cow’s milk.
The rise of plant-based milk alternatives is a result of the growing awareness of the environmental impact of animal agriculture and the increasing demand for healthier and more ethical food choices.
In addition to oat milk, other popular plant-based milk alternatives include almond, soy, coconut, and rice milk. These milk alternatives offer many benefits over traditional cow’s milk, such as being cholesterol-free, lower in fat, and richer in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium.
Moreover, plant-based milk alternatives are becoming more accessible, with many mainstream coffee shops and restaurants now offering them as an option for customers. As more people continue to embrace plant-based lifestyles, the demand for oat milk and other milk alternatives is expected to increase even further.
However, one concern that people often have is the shelf life of these milk alternatives, particularly oat milk. While it’s easy to assume that all plant-based milk alternatives have a similar shelf life, there are several factors that can affect how long oat milk lasts. Understanding these factors is crucial for ensuring that you are consuming fresh and safe oat milk.
Factors that affect the shelf life of oat milk
Factors that affect the shelf life of oat milk can be broadly classified into three categories: processing methods, packaging, and storage conditions.
The processing methods used to manufacture oat milk can significantly impact its shelf life. For example, some oat milk manufacturers use ultra-high temperature (UHT) processing, which involves heating the milk to a very high temperature for a short period to kill bacteria and extend its shelf life. Other manufacturers may use pasteurization, which involves heating the milk to a lower temperature for a longer period. UHT processing can result in a longer shelf life, whereas pasteurization may lead to a shorter shelf life.
The type of packaging used for oat milk can also affect its shelf life. Oat milk is typically packaged in aseptic cartons or plastic bottles. Aseptic cartons are sterilized and then filled with the oat milk in a sterile environment, which helps to prevent contamination. Plastic bottles may not be as effective in preventing contamination and may also allow light to penetrate, which can degrade the quality of the oat milk.
Proper storage is critical for extending the shelf life of oat milk. Oat milk should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Once opened, oat milk should be refrigerated and consumed within a few days. Failure to store oat milk properly can result in spoilage, which can lead to health risks such as food poisoning.
Understanding these factors is important for ensuring that you are consuming fresh and safe oat milk.
Varieties of oat milk on the market
It’s important to note that there are two types of oat milk available on the market: refrigerated and shelf-stable oat milk.
- Refrigerated oat milk is typically found in the dairy section of grocery stores and must be kept refrigerated at all times. It has a shorter shelf life compared to shelf-stable oat milk because it is minimally processed and does not contain any preservatives. Once opened, it should be consumed within 7-10 days, and it should not be left at room temperature for an extended period.
- On the other hand, shelf-stable oat milk is processed using UHT and is packaged in aseptic cartons or bottles, which helps to keep the oat milk fresh for a longer period without the need for refrigeration. Once opened, it can be stored in the refrigerator and should be consumed within 7-10 days. Shelf-stable oat milk is a convenient option for those who don’t have access to refrigeration or for those who prefer to stock up on their oat milk supply without worrying about it spoiling quickly.
While both types of oat milk are safe to consume, it’s essential to read the labels carefully to understand the storage instructions and expiration dates.
When in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and discard oat milk that appears to be spoiled or has an unusual odor or taste.
How long does oat milk last?
Here’s a table comparing the shelf life of shelf-stable oat milk and refrigerated oat milk when unopened and opened:
|Shelf-Stable||6 – 12 months||7 – 10 days|
|Refrigerated||1 – 2 weeks||5 – 7 days|
Please note that these are general estimates and shelf life may vary depending on the brand, processing methods, and storage conditions. It’s important to always check the expiration date and signs of spoilage before consuming oat milk.
How long does unopened oat milk last?
Unopened oat milk can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the type of oat milk and the processing methods used.
How long does oat milk last unrefrigerated?
Shelf-stable oat milk that has been packaged using UHT can last up to several months (at least 6 months – 12 months) when stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
How long can oat milk last in the fridge?
Refrigerated oat milk, on the other hand, typically has a shorter shelf life of around 1 to 2 weeks, although some brands may last up to one month.
Note: It’s important to check the expiration date on the packaging before consuming unopened oat milk and to store it according to the instructions on the label.
How long does oat milk last after opening?
Once you’ve opened a container of oat milk, it’s important to store it properly in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and prevent bacterial growth. The shelf life of opened oat milk can vary depending on the type and brand of oat milk and the storage conditions, but generally, it can last up to 7-10 days.
For shelf-stable oat milk, it should be refrigerated and consumed within 7-10 days after opening. Even though the packaging may indicate a longer shelf life, the product should be treated as a perishable item once opened.
For refrigerated oat milk, it typically lasts between 5-7 days after opening. It’s crucial to keep the container tightly sealed and store it in the refrigerator at or below 4°C (40°F) to prevent exposure to air and bacteria.
Note: It’s important to note that the exact shelf life of opened oat milk may vary depending on factors such as the storage temperature, how many times the container has been opened, and how long it has been stored before opening.
How long does homemade oat milk last?
Homemade oat milk, unlike commercial oat milk, does not contain any preservatives, which can significantly reduce its shelf life. According to authority sources, homemade oat milk can last between 3-5 days when refrigerated in an airtight container. However, it’s essential to note that the freshness and quality of the homemade oat milk can deteriorate quickly due to the lack of preservatives.
To ensure the maximum shelf life of homemade oat milk, it’s crucial to store it properly in the refrigerator and use a clean and airtight container. It’s also recommended to make small batches to avoid any wastage and to consume the oat milk as soon as possible to enjoy the best taste and freshness.
If you’re unsure about the safety of homemade oat milk, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it if it shows any signs of spoilage, such as a sour smell or a change in texture.
How long does oat milk creamer last?
Oat milk creamer, like other types of oat milk, has a shorter shelf life than dairy creamer. The shelf life of oat milk creamer can vary depending on the type and brand of creamer and the storage conditions.
Generally, an unopened container of oat milk creamer can last up to several weeks, but it’s important to check the expiration date on the package. Once the container has been opened, the shelf life of oat milk creamer is reduced significantly, and it typically lasts between 7-10 days in the refrigerator.
It’s important to store oat milk creamer properly in the refrigerator at or below 4°C (40°F) to maintain its freshness and prevent bacterial growth. It’s also essential to keep the container tightly sealed to prevent exposure to air and moisture, which can cause spoilage.
Tips for extending the shelf life of oat milk
Here are some tips for extending the shelf life of oat milk:
Proper storage techniques
As mentioned earlier, refrigeration is crucial to extend the shelf life of oat milk. Always store oat milk in the refrigerator at or below 4°C (40°F) and use it within the recommended time frame to maintain its freshness and prevent bacterial growth.
Another way to extend the shelf life of oat milk is by freezing it. Freezing oat milk can prolong its shelf life for up to 6 months. Simply pour the oat milk into an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, thaw it in the refrigerator or at room temperature and give it a good shake before consuming it.
To prevent contamination and bacterial growth, it’s important to follow good hygiene practices when handling oat milk. Always use clean utensils and containers when pouring and storing oat milk. It’s also essential to wash your hands thoroughly before handling the oat milk to avoid any cross-contamination.
Using it up before it expires
The best way to extend the shelf life of oat milk is by using it up before it expires. Always check the expiration date on the package and consume the oat milk within the recommended time frame. Avoid buying large quantities of oat milk if you don’t use it frequently to reduce wastage.
By following proper storage techniques, avoiding contamination, and using up oat milk before it expires, you can extend its shelf life and reduce wastage.
Signs that oat milk has gone bad
Like any other food product, oat milk can go bad if it’s not stored properly or if it has passed its expiration date. Here are some signs to look for to determine if oat milk has gone bad:
- Sour smell: One of the most apparent signs that oat milk has gone bad is a sour or rancid smell. If it smells off, it’s best to discard it.
- Unusual texture: If the oat milk has an unusual texture, such as lumps, curdles, or clumps, it’s likely that it has gone bad.
- Off-flavors: If the oat milk tastes sour or has an off-flavor, it’s a clear indication that it has gone bad.
- Mold growth: If you notice any mold growth on the surface of the oat milk or around the container’s edges, it’s best to discard it immediately.
- Changes in color: If the oat milk has changed color, such as turning yellowish or brownish, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
What happens if you drink oat milk after 7 days?
If you drink oat milk after 7 days of opening, it may have gone bad and could cause food poisoning. The shelf life of refrigerated oat milk after opening is usually between 5 to 7 days, although some brands may last up to one month. After this time, the oat milk may start to spoil, which could lead to bacterial growth and contamination.
Drinking spoiled oat milk can cause a range of symptoms, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also cause fever, dehydration, and other serious health problems.
Therefore, it’s important to always check the expiration date and use-by date on the oat milk packaging and consume it before it expires. Additionally, proper storage techniques, such as refrigeration, can help extend the shelf life of oat milk and reduce the risk of spoilage.
What to do with spoiled oat milk?
If you have oat milk that has gone bad, it’s best to discard it to avoid any risk of foodborne illness. Pour it down the sink or into the trash and rinse the container thoroughly to remove any residual milk.
However, if you want to use the spoiled oat milk for other purposes, you can consider using it as a substitute for buttermilk in baking recipes. The acidic nature of the spoiled oat milk can help activate the leavening agents in the recipe and create a light and fluffy texture in baked goods.
Alternatively, you can use the spoiled oat milk to create a natural fertilizer for your plants. The bacteria present in the spoiled milk can help promote healthy soil and encourage plant growth.
How long is oat milk good for after expiration date?
It’s generally not recommended to consume oat milk after its expiration date, as the quality and safety of the milk may be compromised.
While there may be slight variations depending on the brand and processing method, the general shelf life of unopened oat milk ranges from a few weeks to several months. After opening, the shelf life of oat milk is reduced to about 5-7 days when refrigerated.
It’s important to note that the expiration date is not a guaranteed date when the oat milk will spoil, but rather an estimation of when the quality and freshness of the milk will start to decline. Once the expiration date has passed, the milk may still be good for a short time if it has been stored properly and does not show any signs of spoilage such as a sour or off smell or curdled texture.
However, it’s still not recommended to consume expired oat milk as the risk of food poisoning increases significantly. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and discard the milk if it has expired or shows signs of spoilage.
Does oat milk last longer than regular milk?
Yes, oat milk typically has a longer shelf life than regular milk. Shelf-stable oat milk can last up to several months if unopened, while refrigerated oat milk has a shelf life of about 1-2 weeks after opening. In comparison, regular milk usually has a shelf life of about 1-2 weeks when refrigerated.
What milk lasts the longest?
Organic milk generally lasts longer than non-organic milk due to the way it is produced and processed. Organic milk is produced from cows that are not treated with artificial hormones or antibiotics, which can lead to higher bacterial growth and faster spoilage of the milk.
Additionally, organic milk is typically produced using a high-temperature pasteurization process, known as ultra-pasteurization or UHT, which involves heating the milk to a higher temperature than regular pasteurization, effectively sterilizing the milk and extending its shelf life.
As a result, organic milk can last up to several weeks or even months if unopened and stored properly. However, once opened, organic milk should still be consumed within 1-2 weeks and refrigerated to ensure its freshness and safety.
Oat milk is a popular and nutritious dairy alternative that is a great option for people with lactose intolerance or dietary restrictions. However, it’s important to be aware of how long does oat milk last and to follow proper storage and usage practices to ensure its safety and quality.
Shelf-stable oat milk can last up to several months if unopened, while refrigerated oat milk typically has a shelf life of 1-2 weeks after opening. Homemade oat milk has a shorter shelf life of 3-5 days and should be consumed quickly. It’s also important to recognize the signs of spoilage and avoid consuming oat milk that has gone bad.
Proper storage techniques, such as refrigeration and freezing, can help extend the shelf life of oat milk. Additionally, using oat milk before it expires and avoiding contamination can help ensure its freshness and safety.
Overall, oat milk is a healthy and sustainable milk alternative that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. By following proper storage and usage practices, you can enjoy the many benefits of oat milk while also minimizing food waste and promoting a more sustainable food system.