How to tell if almond milk is bad?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How to tell if almond milk is bad” with an in-depth analysis of ways to spot bad almond milk Moreover, we are going to discuss whether or not almond milk is safe to drink past the “best by” date and ways to properly store almond milk.
According to studies, the share of plant-based food products will exceed the animal-based ones by 20% in 25 years. The report of Nielsen Holdings PLC from September 2018 shows that compared with 2017 the market of plant-based food products grew by 20% and exceeded 3.3 billion USD (1).
Almond milk is packed with many essential micronutrients and macronutrients that make it a good choice if you want to avoid regular milk. It contains very few amounts of calories just like other plant-based beverages. It contains only about 39 calories per cup. Almond milk also contains about 3 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein in one cup (240 ml). Moreover, it is also a good source of many vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Potassium, and Calcium (2). So if you are wondering how to spot if this nutritious milk variant has gone bad, you need not worry as we are going to tell you everything about it.
So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.
How to tell if almond milk is bad?
You should consider the appearance, texture, smell, and taste of the almond milk to give a final verdict of whether or not it has gone bad.
During long-term storage, a number of constituents within plant-based milk alternatives may chemically degrade, which could reduce the shelf life, quality attributes, or nutritional attributes of commercial products. For instance, unsaturated lipids may oxidize, proteins or polysaccharides may hydrolyze, natural colors may fade, flavors may deteriorate, and vitamins or nutraceuticals may degrade (5).
If you spot a mold or any other organic growth in your almond milk carton (it is a really rare phenomenon), then the best thing you can do is to get rid of this almond milk as it is an indication of bad almond milk and if you consume such almond milk, it can cause many foodborne illnesses including food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and sometimes even fever. Studies show that the initial total plate count of yeast/ mold, and E. coli in the untreated almond milk were 4.2, 3.69, and 2.8 log CFU/ml, respectively. During storage, the microbial load increased rapidly (4).
If the almond milk is curdled or has lumps present in it, then it is an indication of bad almond milk and you should get rid of it. Plant-based beverages are colloidal systems containing dispersed particles like oil droplets, proteins, starch granules, and some other solid particles derived from a raw substance. These colloidal systems are thermodynamically unstable during the storage time or under environmental conditions such as thermal, pH, and freeze–thaw treatments, leading to gravitational separation and aggregation, which certainly affect the texture and appearance of the final product (3).
If you smell something foul or sour while taking a sniff test then it is an indication that the almond milk has gone bad and the best thing to do is to discard it.
Almond milk has a nutty aroma to it, the absence of the nutty aroma is the indication that your almond milk is past its prime age.
Fermentation odor is an indication of deterioration of almond products. This is the most undesirable modification of organoleptic quality because it is easily detected. When yeast growth occurs, these microorganisms may produce alcohol, leading to an alcoholic odor (5).
If you notice a sour or slightly bitter taste after taking a little sip of milk then it is the indication that the almond milk has gone bad. Yeast fermentation generates an off-flavor that may hide the characteristic taste of fresh almond (5).
Other FAQs about Milk which you may be interested in.
How long does a carton of coconut milk last?
Is almond milk safe to use after the best-before date?
The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the carton of almond milk refers to the quality rather than safety so almond milk doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date.
Conventional thermal food processing methods extend shelf life of foods and beverages and determine how long they can be stored without significant nutritional or sensorial changes. Changes during storage can occur on the color, taste, texture and vitamin content of the milk. Oxidation of fatty acids and microbiological growth can achieve high levels after 7 days of storage (4).
This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of almond milk but you can still use almond 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.
You can read how to make almond milk at home here.
How long can I keep open almond milk cartons at room temperature?
Open almond milk cartons last for about 2 hours when left at room temperature. Moreover, if the temperature outside is more than 90 °F, almond milk will last for only about an hour. Almond 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 almond milk and will spoil it.
Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.”
What is the optimum temperature to store almond milk?
You should always store almond milk at 40°F or below in the fridge. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store almond milk at a lower temperature to preserve its freshness and quality for a long time. In the case of shelf stable almond milk, which undergoes UHT treatments, it is safe to store at room temperature, as long as it is unopened. However, it is recommended to follow the “best-by-date” for safety, as well as changes in odor, texture, flavor, gas formation and any visual sign of spoilage (mold, color change).
How can you store almond milk properly?
- Almond 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 (6).
- It is better to store almond 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 almond milk.
- Almond milk should be stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as it is the coldest part of the refrigerator and has its temperature between 38 °F to 40 °F.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to tell if almond milk is bad” with an in-depth analysis of ways to spot bad almond milk. Moreover, we discussed whether or not almond milk is safe to drink past the “best by” date and ways to properly store almond milk.
- Pritulska, Natalia, et al. Сonsumer Preferences On The Market Of Plant-Based Milk Analogues. Slovak J Food Sci, 2021, 15.
- Torna, Elena, D. Rivero Mendoza, and Wendy J. Dahl. Plant-Based Milks: Almond. Food Sci Human Nutr, 2020, 48, 1-3.
- Pakzadeh, Razieh, et al. Formulation optimization and impact of environmental and storage conditions on physicochemical stability of pistachio milk. J Food Measure Charac, 2021, 15, 4037-4050.
- Manzoor, Muhammad Faisal, et al. Effect of pulsed electric field and thermal treatments on the bioactive compounds, enzymes, microbial, and physical stability of almond milk during storage. J Food Process Preserv, 2020, 44, e14541.
- Faid, Mohamed, et al. Almond paste: physicochemical and microbiological characterization and preservation with sorbic acid and cinnamon. J food protec, 1995, 58, 547-550.
- Milk. The Nutrition Source. University of Harvard.
- Foodkeeper. United States Department of Agriculture.