How long can fresh milk be left out?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long can fresh milk be left out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of fresh milk at room temperature. Moreover, we are going to discuss different ways to spot bad fresh milk.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long can fresh milk be left out?

Fresh milk lasts for about 2 hours when left out at room temperature.

Milk is a perishable commodity and has a lot of macro and micronutrients present in it. Moreover, it has a lot of water present in its formulation so if it is kept out for more than 2 hours, bacteria and other microbes will find their way into your fresh milk and will spoil it. 

You should discard the fresh milk that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore there are greater chances of the fresh milk being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

Moreover, if the temperature of the surroundings is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then the process of spoilage takes place at a faster pace and it is recommended to discard fresh milk that is left out in the open for more than an hour at 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is worth mentioning that the figures mentioned above are the estimated shelf life of fresh milk.

What is the optimum temperature to store fresh milk?

You should always store your fresh milk at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, therefore it is always advised to store fresh milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time.

Is fresh milk safe to use after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the carton of fresh milk refers to the quality rather than safety so fresh milk doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. 

This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of fresh milk but you can still use fresh milk that is past this date as long as it was stored properly, there is no leakage in the carton and no signs of mold are present.

Ways to spot bad fresh milk

There are a couple of indicators that point out bad fresh milk. You should consider the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of the fresh milk to give a final verdict of whether or not it has gone bad.

Appearance

If you spot a mold or any other organic growth in your fresh milk carton (it is a really rare phenomenon), then the best thing you can do is to get rid of this fresh milk as it is an indication of bad fresh milk.

Texture

If the fresh milk is curdled or has lumps present in it, then it is an indication of bad fresh milk and you should get rid of it.

Smell

If you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test then it is an indication that the fresh milk has gone bad and the best thing to do is to discard it.

Taste

If the fresh milk has passed the visual and smell test, then you can go ahead and taste it. If you notice a sour or slightly bitter taste after taking a little sip of milk then it is an indication that the fresh milk has gone bad. 

Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.

How long can breast milk stay out after being refrigerated?

How long can chocolate milk sit out?

How long can coconut milk sit out?

Tips to properly store fresh milk

  1. Fresh milk can pick up odors therefore it should be stored in an air-tight container or bottle in the fridge. Moreover, it should be stored away from strong-smelling food items like garlic, onion, etc. 
  1. It is better to store fresh milk on a shelf of the refrigerator rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge and that can harm the quality of fresh milk.
  1. Fresh milk should be stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has a temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.

You can read about different types of milk here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long can fresh milk be left out” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of fresh milk at room temperature. Moreover, we discussed different ways to spot bad fresh milk.

Citations

https://www.usdairy.com/news-articles/how-long-can-milk-sit-out#:~:text=In%20general%2C%20perishable%20foods%20like,bacteria%20can%20start%20to%20grow.

https://www.myrecipes.com/extracrispy/how-long-can-milk-be-out-of-the-fridge

https://stilltasty.com/articles/how-long-can-milk-be-left-out-of-the-fridge

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.