Does almond milk need to be refrigerated?
In this brief article, we will answer the query, “Does almond milk need to be refrigerated?”. We will also talk about, the shelf life, and storage methods of almond milk.
Does almond milk need to be refrigerated?
Shelf-stable almond milk needs refrigeration after opening. Before opening, it is not necessary to keep shelf-stable almond milk refrigerated, you can leave it in your pantry.
Freshly made-almond milk and other non-shelf-stable almond milk will need refrigeration to keep quality, otherwise, they will spoil quickly, besides representing a risk for foodborne illnesses.
Why does almond milk need to be refrigerated?
Unless it is shelf-stable and unopened, almond milk needs to be refrigerated due to its high perishability and because chilling reduces the rate of spoilage reactions .
Indeed, almond milk is a rich environment for microbial growth: it contains mostly water (85-90%), proteins, fat, carbohydrates, fibers, Vitamin E, phytosterols, and minerals such as calcium [2, 3].
Moreover, the pH of almond milk is close to neutrality (about 6.5), the favorite one of many bacteria to multiply.
Previous studies also revealed that almond milk contains a high concentration of polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it very susceptible to oxidation and hydrolytic rancidity .
Rancidity is the result of a chain of reactions that can take place when unsaturated fat in almond milk enters into contact with the air, leading to the formation of off-flavors and off-odors associated with rancidity .
Alternatively, rancidity can result from biochemical reactions mediated by enzymes.
It is known from previous research that every 10°C reduction in temperature lowers two to three times reaction rates .
These reduced rates include microbial growth and chemical and biochemical reactions that contribute to almond milk spoilage.
Thus, chilling will delay the progress of all of these alterations, resulting in an extended shelf life of almond milk.
How long does almond milk last refrigerated?
Before opening, brands label that shelf-stable almond milk last for up to 10 months in your pantry .
This is possible because shelf-stable almond milk undergoes sterilization to make the product commercially sterile, and aseptic packaging in cartons to protect it from light, oxygen, and recontamination.
After opening, almond milk should be stored between 0 and 8°C and last about 5 days in the refrigerator [1, 6]. For precise periods, stick to the recommendation described on the label.
After opening, the almond milk enters into contact with air and external contamination. Thus, it is no longer sterile, and spoilage (e.g. due to fat oxidation and microbes) will take place over time.
Homemade almond milk should also be stored in the refrigerator between 0 and 8°C and last for 3-5 days .
In all cases, chilling reduces the rate of growth of microorganisms and chemical reactions, therefore, delaying spoilage .
Indications that the almond milk has gone bad in the refrigerator
To know whether your almond milk has gone bad in the refrigerator, observe its appearance and feel its smell.
Any color or viscosity change in your milk may indicate spoilage by microbial growth. Off-odors and off-flavors are other manifestations of spoilage.
Due to the characteristics of almond milk (pH close to neutrality), microbial spoilage of almond milk is mainly due to bacteria, but molds and yeast may also participate.
While developing in food, these microorganisms release enzymes that break almond milk components, promoting texture change, as well as metabolites that can produce color modifications, unpleasant odors, and flavors .
If you notice any of these external signs, simply discard the almond milk. Tasting is not a good idea, because bad appearance and smell already indicate complete taste deterioration.
In addition to microbial spoilage, almond milk fat can oxidize. This can be perceived by a rancid smell. It is not promptly harmful to your health, but you will probably reject it due to the unpleasant odor.
Is it safe to drink expired almond milk that has been opened and refrigerated?
No, it is not safe to drink expired almond milk that has been opened and kept refrigerated.
Harmful bacteria usually do not cause sensory changes in foods , that mission is accomplished by spoiling bacteria.
This means that if your milk is contaminated with microorganisms that will make you sick, it will appear perfect for you, with no signs of spoilage.
Thus, avoid consuming expired almond milk after opening, which includes the date printed on labels and the storage period advised after opening (usually 5 days).
Tips for better storage of almond milk in the refrigerator
- Keep it protected from light and air. With packed almond milk, you can do it by sealing the lid tightly every time you handle the pack.
For homemade milk, store it in dark, airtight containers. This will reduce fat oxidation and contamination.
- Do not leave your almond milk on the door shelves of your refrigerator. In this area, there is significant temperature fluctuation, which may negatively impact the shelf life of the product.
- Check that your refrigerator is chilling properly. The ideal storage of almond milk is between 0 and 8°C . You can check it by using a thermometer.
In this brief study, we answered the question, “Does almond milk need to be refrigerated?”. We also talked about the shelf life and storage methods of almond milk.
1. Fellows PJ. Food Processing Technology Principles and Practice. Fourth ed, 2017.
2. Silva ARA, Silva MMN, Ribeiro BD. Health issues and technological aspects of plant-based alternative milk. Food Research International. 2020;131:108972.
3. AlozieYetunde E, Udofia, editors. Nutritional and Sensory Properties of Almond ( Prunus amygdalu Var . Dulcis ) Seed Milk. World Journal of Dairy & Food Sciences. 2015;10 (2): 117-121.
4. Vieira SA, Zhang G, Decker EA. Biological Implications of Lipid Oxidation Products. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society. 2017;94(3):339-51.