How to store coconut milk?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “How to store coconut milk?” with an in-depth analysis of the proper storage of coconut milk. Moreover, we will also discuss the signs of food poisoning.

How to store coconut milk?

An unopened container of coconut milk can be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet. However, once opened, it is important to refrigerate coconut milk to maintain its freshness. 

To prevent the coconut milk from absorbing unwanted odors, make sure to tightly seal the container lid and keep it away from strongly aromatic foods.

When opening canned coconut milk, it is recommended to transfer any remaining milk to an airtight plastic or glass container. This step helps avoid any potential interaction between the metal can and the coconut milk during storage.

For homemade coconut milk, it is always best to store it in the refrigerator. Prior to using refrigerated canned or homemade coconut milk, gently shake the container to ensure that the solid contents are evenly dispersed within the milk. (1) 

Does coconut milk have to be refrigerated?

Once you have opened a pack of coconut milk, it is essential to refrigerate it. Unlike animal milk, coconut milk is a plant-based product with a different shelf life. To ensure its freshness and safety, it should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours after opening.

However, if the pack of coconut milk remains unopened, it can be stored without refrigeration. It has a shelf life of approximately one month beyond the expiration date indicated on the packaging.. (1)

How long does coconut milk remain good?

Fresh or pasteurized coconut milk, whether store-bought or homemade without aseptic conditions, has a relatively short shelf life. When stored at room temperature, it can only last a few hours. 

However, when refrigerated at temperatures between 4°C and 5°C, it can remain viable for approximately 2-3 days.

In contrast, coconut milk that has undergone pasteurization, aseptic packaging, and is stored in refrigerated conditions exhibits greater stability. It can maintain its quality for a period of 12-30 days.

If coconut milk has been ultra-pasteurized and aseptically packaged, its shelf life extends significantly. When stored at room temperature, it can last anywhere from 90 to 170 days. (1)

Can you freeze coconut milk?

Yes, coconut milk can be frozen. If an opened container of coconut milk is not going to be used within a week, it is recommended to store it in the freezer.

However, it’s important to note that freezing can affect the quality of coconut milk. When thawed, the milk solids and liquids may separate, resulting in a loss of its smooth and creamy texture.

The process of preparing frozen coconut milk involves pasteurizing it at 116.8°C for a few seconds and then gradually cooling it to a sludge consistency. This sludge is then filled into containers and blast frozen.

Frozen coconut milk is known to retain its flavor and freshness even after being stored at a temperature of -23.38°C for up to one year. (2)

What are the signs of spoilage in coconut milk?

Untreated coconut milk spoils quickly, even when stored under refrigeration. It provides a rich environment that supports the growth of various common spoilage microorganisms. 

Bacteria from the genera Bacillus, Achromobacter, Microbacterium, Micrococcus, and Brevibacterium are frequently encountered. Fungi such as Penicillium, Geotricum, Mucor, Fusarium, and Saccharomyces spp. are also commonly found in spoiled coconut milk.

In addition to microbial spoilage, coconut milk is highly susceptible to chemical deterioration, including enzymatic processes. Lipid autoxidation and lipolysis are the primary causes of undesirable tastes and odors. 

Enzyme lipase can catalyze the hydrolysis of acylglycerols, leading to the rapid release of short-chain fatty acids like butyric, caproic, caprylic, and capric acids, which result in strong odors. 

Medium-chain fatty acids, such as lauric and myristic acids commonly found in coconut oil, can impart a distinctive soapy taste. Unsaturated fatty acids in coconut milk are also prone to oxidative rancidity when they undergo oxidation. (2)

What are the risks of drinking spoiled coconut milk?

Given its nutritional profile, coconut milk is susceptible to contamination and the growth of spoilage and/or pathogenic microorganisms. 

Consequently, consuming contaminated coconut milk can lead to unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or a combination of these effects. (1-3)


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to store coconut milk?” with an in-depth analysis of the proper storage of coconut milk. Moreover, we discussed the signs of food poisoning.


  1. Reyes-Jurado, F., et. al. Plant-Based Milk Alternatives: Types, Processes, Benefits, and Characteristics. Food Reviews International, 1–32, 2021.
  2. Seow, C. C., & Gwee, C. N. Coconut milk: chemistry and technology. International Journal of Food Science and Technology, 32(3), 189–201. 1997.
  3. Kehinde, B. A., Panghal, A., Garg, M. K., Sharma, P., & Chhikara, N. (2020). Vegetable milk as probiotic and prebiotic foods. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research.

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