Oat milk is dairy free, gluten free, nut free, soy free and vegan, no wonder it has become such a popular beverage. But if you don’t drink oat milk everyday, is it able to be kept on a shelf for the longterm?
Is oat milk shelf stable? Prepackaged oat milk is shelf-stable for about 9 months while the containers are sealed. If you are storing oat milk, then the unopened containers should be kept in a cool, dark and dry storage area.
In this write-up, we are going to discuss some facts about the shelf life of oat milk and answer all the related questions about the storing oat milk the right way. Here is everything you need to know pertaining to keeping oat milk shelf stable and preventing early spoilage.
What is oat milk?
Oat milk is a nondairy beverage that is derived from whole grain oats blended with water. The residual pulp is separated from the liquid by straining, and the creamy liquid that remains is called oat milk.
Oat milk looks like the milk from a cow, but the creamy texture of oat milk has a flavor similar to oatmeal. It is also manufactured in various flavors including chocolate, vanilla, unsweetened and sweetened, etc.
People of all ages like to drink oat milk as it is healthy and one of the most popular dairy-free refreshment drinks.
This dairy-free milk has become popular for the last few years because it is free from lactose, vegan, as well as free from soy, gluten, and nuts. For this reason, oat milk is considered a perfect alternative to dairy milk for people with celiac disease, allergy to nuts, or intolerance to lactose.
Oat Milk Date Labels
The best by or expiration date labels placed on packaging is misleading and sends mixed messages to customers. So, how accurate is the date label to store oatmeal and will the oat milk expire at that exact moment?
Noteworthy to mention that date labels are not based on exact science.
In fact, date labeling is a general guideline that helps consumers and retailers determine when food is at its best quality. However, label dating does not accurately determine food safety because it is not based on any scientific facts.
How long does oat milk last unopened?
Unopened oat milk can last for 6-8 months if stored properly in a cool, dry and dark area. Once the seal is broken, the oat milk must be kept in the fridge.
However, it can be complicated to store unopened oat milk as two types of oat milk is available in the market. One type of oat milk is self-stable and the other one is sold refrigerated.
The shelf-stable oat milk has a best-by date, which is about 6 to 9 months from the date of its production. However, it is generally safe to drink a few months after its best-by date depending upon the quality of the product and storage conditions.
Does unopened oat milk need to be refrigerated?
Oat milk does not need to be refrigerated if it is unopened. Oat milk is shelf-stable and should be kept in a dark, dry and cool place unless it is opened.
Sealed containers of oat milk can be placed in a dry storage area, cupboard or pantry. You can also store them in a fridge, but you should never store in the freezer as the water content in the oat milk will expand after freezing which will damage its packaging and the milk will explode.
If you are keeping unopened oat milk for a longtime, then it is wise to avoid using the fridge. The sealed container does not require temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and this is not a economical use of cold storage space.
Does oat milk go bad if not opened?
No, oat milk does not go bad if it is not opened. Oat milk in the unopened package is shelf-stable so it cannot go bad unless its seal is broken.
The shelf life of unopened oat milk is nearly 9 months, as recommended on its label. In reality, there is no reason why unopened packs of oat milk couldn’t last for 3-5 years without going bad if stored in a dark, dry, and cool space.
There is no risk for spoilage as well as exposure to mold or bacteria if the containers are sealed.
How long does oat milk last out of the fridge?
Oat milk can last out of the fridge for about 9 months is the container is unopened. If its seal is broken, then you will have to refrigerate it immediately because it is a perishable food and is no longer shelf stable.
If the oat milk container is unopened, then it can last out of the fridge even after its best-by date. Store oat milk for a longer amount of time if you have a basement downstairs or a separate pantry in your kitchen.
Maintain the freshness and quality of the sealed containers of oat milk for up to 9 months and even more if the room temperature in your area is stable without drastic fluctuations. It should be stored away from any source of heat for optimal conditions.
Put oat milk in the fridge once its seal is opened as it is considered a perishable food and not longer has a room temperature shelf life. Opened oat milk can keep fresh for up to 7 days by putting it in the fridge after packaging it properly.
To reduce exposure to the air and bacteria, the oat milk should be sealed in an airtight container. To prevent oat milk from going bad too quickly, keep the time, temperature and exposure to air to a minimum.
Drinking bad oat milk
Though you can drink expired oat milk, it is not safe to drink if there are any differences in its color, off putting smells or any kind of mold. These are signs that oat milk has gone bad.
While drinking expired oat milk is not bad, you should determine its quality, safety, and freshness by using your senses. Do not attempt to drink it if it smells foul or looks weird.
Oat milk is not considered bad if it has crossed its best-by date. It can be safely used 2-3 months after its best-by date if the container is sealed.
If the expiration as lapsed, then there is a chance of the oat milk separating. Give it a quick shake and the contents should homogenize once again into a smooth, creamy beverage.
When you consume bad oat milk then the risk of getting sick can increase. It can cause problems like food poisoning which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or inflammation in the intestines.
It can also cause acidity when opened package of oat milk is exposed to air as oxidation of milk can help in the growth of microbes, bacteria, and spores in it.
Oat milk becomes less nutritious when it is not fresh as minerals and vitamins in it get degrades with time. So you can drink oat milk even after its best-by date, but you are not advised to drink bad oat milk that has spoiled or soured.
When oat milk is no longer fresh, then it will become less nutritious as the vitamins and minerals are degraded over time. Though you can consume expired oat milk without any concern, it is not advisable to ingest spoiled oat milk.
Oat Milk Shelf Life: Final Thoughts
Shelf-stable oat milk is safe to drink for a long time unless its seal is broken. The shelf life of an unopened carton of oat milk is about 9 months after production date when kept in a cool, dry and dark storage area.
Best by dates are only used as a general guideline, however they are not based on scientific facts. Therefore, you can possibly drink expired oat milk as unopened containers may last for years beyond the expiration date on the packaging.
The quality of the oat milk should be determined by your senses. The oat milk is considered bad if it smells foul, looks discolored or has mold on the surface.
Use your best judgement to determine whether the oat milk has pasted its prime or if it is time to throw it away. Follow the suggestions in the article to keep your oat milk shelf stable for a longtime and extend its freshness beyond the expiry date.