Does Coconut Milk Go Bad? How Can You Tell? (FULL ANALYSIS)

image of canned coconut milk go bad

We’ve heard all about almond, oat, and soy milk with their health benefits… But what about coconut milk?

While this is a great drink, it’s also a fantastic addition to your other drinks and dishes, whether you’re cooking curries or healthy baking pastries. If you’re just like us, you most likely won’t use within days unless you plan to cook and bake a storm.

That may leave you wondering: does coconut milk go bad? How can you tell if it is bad?

Yes, coconut milk can go bad. The shelf life depends on the type of coconut milk and how it is stored. For example, packaged pr canned coconut milk will last longer than fresh coconut milk if kept refrigerated. Be sure to check the expiration date and follow storage directions for the best quality and longest shelf life.

Keep reading as we’ll answer all your questions regarding this ingredient’s shelf life, food storage options, and the like.

image of coconut milk shelf life

Have you ever wondered how coconut milk is made? It’s actually quite fascinating!

How is Coconut Milk Made?

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut. The process begins with cracking open the coconut and separating out the white insides, using either a grater or a food processor.

The fresh coconut is then blended until it becomes creamy and smooth, before being strained through cheesecloth or another fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining pieces of intact coconut.

Coconut cream can also be used in place of plain coconut milk; this is done by boiling the already-strained coconut mixture, then adding more water to the resulting cream and straining it once again. This results in a thicker, richer product than what you’d get with just plain coconut milk.

No matter which way you choose to make your own homemade version, you’ll definitely be praising its delicious taste and health benefits—so now answer to our most important question:

Does Coconut Milk Go Bad?

Coconut milk, like dairy products, can undergo spoilage over time, even when stored in the refrigerator. While dairy products may turn sour and curdle, non-dairy products like coconut milk, which is derived from coconut meat, can also experience changes when unused for a specific duration

However, what makes it different is that it has a longer shelf life than dairy products.

Type of Coconut MilkShelf Life
Opened Canned7-10 days
Unopened Canned18-24 months
Pasteurized Carton7-10 days
Homemade5 days

Why Does Coconut Milk Spoil Easily?

Coconut milk spoils more quickly than other types of milk because it is not heat-treated. The process of heat-treatment helps to kill off bacteria that can cause spoilage and food-borne illness.

Additionally, coconut milk has a higher fat content than other types of milk, which provides a more appealing environment for certain bacteria to thrive. Therefore, it is important to store coconut milk properly at a colder temperature to maximize its shelf life and ensure safety.

But how Long Does Coconut Milk Last?

TimeUnopened Coconut MilkOpened Coconut Milk
Refrigerated6-12 months7-10 days
Unrefrigerated, Room Temperature1-2 hoursN/A (not safe to consume)
  • Unopened coconut milk in aseptic packaging can last between 6-12 months after its manufacturing date. If properly stored, it can last a month past its printed best by date.
  • The refrigerated variety of coconut milk can last up to one week past its best by date.
  • Opened coconut milk will last for seven to ten days when stored correctly in the fridge regardless of the variety. Thick coconut milk lasts for seven to ten days, while thinner milks last for about seven days.
  • Canned coconut milk lasts for 6-12 months past its expiration date. It can even last for two to five years since the milk is in cans!
  • Opened canned coconut milk lasts for 5-10 days in the fridge.
  • Homemade coconut milk lasts for 3-4 days in the fridge.

Before you use, we recommend checking if it has spoiled to avoid ruining a dish. We’ll get to that in the next section, so continues reading.

Let’s say you have an opened carton or bottle sitting in the fridge for a few days… Hold up! Don’t pour it into your glass or dish just yet.

How To Tell If Coconut Milk Is Bad?

Examine the milk for any signs of spoilage first! Watch out for these signs that tell if the milk has gone bad:

  • Check the best-by dates and see if it still falls within the timeline we mentioned above.
  • Smell the milk and see if it smells sour or moldy. Canned coconut milk would smell rancid, sour, or chemical-like.
  • Shake the milk first, then pour it into a transparent glass. Check coconut milk’s appearance and if there are any changes in color or texture.
  • Spoiled milk would appear lumpy, heavily separated, and discolored. Canned coconut milk may show mold on the surface. Mild separation is expected, and you just need to give it a little stir.
  • If you see that the unopened can, carton, or bottle looks damaged, it’s best to throw it away. This doesn’t mean your coconut milk is bad, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Give it a little taste if you can’t tell whether coconut milk is bad based on the above tips. Various brands will taste different, but they will never taste rancid, sour, or rotten.

How To Store Coconut Milk

Once you’re familiar with coconut milk’s expiration date and how to tell if it’s gone bad, the next thing to learn is how to store it well. Follow these food storage tips:

1. Storing Shelf-Stable and Canned

Store this type of coconut milk in a cool and dry place, preferably in a kitchen cabinet or pantry. You must keep it away from running appliances or other heat and light sources.

2. Storing Opened and Refrigerated

These varieties need to be stored in the refrigerator properly. Ensure that you seal the container it’s in and keep it in the back of the fridge, away from other foods with odors that can transfer to the milk.

You can also transfer coconut milk to a sealed container to prevent it from going stale. It’s better to place it in an airtight container if you’re unsure about its original packaging.

3. Freezing Coconut Milk

It’s possible to freeze coconut milk, but not something we recommend if you’re only going to drink it after.

We recommend freezing method only if you have no choice and don’t plan to use it for the next few weeks or months.

Freeze it in ice cube trays, a milk freezer bag, or an airtight container properly. Then you can thaw it in the fridge overnight to use.

  • Pro tip: Note that thawed coconut milk will have a different consistency, and its flavor quality may have degraded over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’re not done yet! Check out these frequently asked questions to pique your curiosity about this milk.

Interesting Facts

Is It Possible To Can Coconut Milk?

Yes, it’s possible to can homemade coconut milk to make last longer. However, since homemade varieties may not contain the proper preservatives manufacturers add, the shelf life might be shorter, whether an opened can or unopened can.

Learn more: The Difference Between Canned and Carton Coconut Milk!

How Can I Use? 

Here are a few ideas where you can use with your milk:

  • Coconut curries
  • Tandoori chicken
  • Pina colada and other cocktails
  • Coconut flan
  • In milkshakes and smoothies
  • Put it in your cereal
  • Stews and soups
  • Ice cream
  • As a coffee creamer
  • And many more!

Learn more: What To Do With Leftover Coconut Milk?

Is Coconut Milk Like Dairy Milk?

In a way, they are similar in terms of use. However, coconut milk isn’t a dairy product and is naturally lactose-free, unlike cow’s milk. That’s why it’s excellent for vegans and those who have milk allergies, though it isn’t nut-free. (*)

We use coconut milk or coconut cream as a milk substitute, which you can purchase in your local grocery store. You can find this in the refrigerated section. However, canned and shelf-stable milk can be found on the shelves by the milk section.

Wrapping It Up

We hope that you learned a lot about coconut milk shelf life and if it’s OK to consume it past its printed expiration date!

Now that you know more about this versatile ingredient, do follow the tips we mentioned above for proper food storage so your milk can last longer.

Besides this, we have other insightful blog posts on food and popular ingredients, so feel free to check that out, too!

Happy cooking, everyone!

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