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Does Coconut Milk Go Bad? Shelf Life, Spoilage Signs, And More

Are you wondering if coconut milk goes bad? Everything you need to know about the shelf life of the milk is here!

A tasty replacement to cow’s milk, coconut milk comes from the white flesh of mature brown coconut that’s the fruit of the Cocos nucifera plant.

Milk has become popular among food enthusiasts due to its thick consistency and rich, creamy texture. 

Southeast Asian countries, like Thailand and the Philippines, are naturally obsessed with the versatility of milk. But chefs from South America, Hawaii, and India are also fond of the ingredient. 

Now, the question is—does coconut milk go bad? Unfortunately, just like other kinds of milk out there, it can curdle and spoil.

To learn more, this comprehensive guide explains how long coconut milk typically lasts, how to tell if it has gone wrong, and how to store it properly.

Does coconut milk go bad?

Contents

If you’re wondering if coconut milk goes bad, yes—it does. 

However, the shelf life of the milk varies depending on whether the product comes in a can or carton, as well as its storage condition and storage methods.

Generally, an unopened can of coconut milk has a longer shelf life with an estimated expiry date of two to five years than those produced in cartons. 

As per opened can, the milk starts to deteriorate after seven days.

Meanwhile, an unopened carton of coconut milk can last for up to four weeks and opened one should keep fresh in the refrigerator for seven days. 

Moreover, cans or cartons of coconut milk are usually labeled with expiration dates, so ensure to check them before purchasing the items.

How to tell if coconut milk has gone bad

Most packaged coconut milk has expiration dates printed on the container, which indicates how long the product will stay fresh. 

But these labels aren’t reliable all the time and don’t ensure the milk’s safety. So before you use that coconut milk in your recipes, take a quick look at these red flags to determine whether it’s terrible.

Appearance

One of the fastest ways to know whether your coconut milk is bad or not is by looking at its appearance. 

Good quality coconut milk should have an opaque and milky white color. If you notice any signs of discoloration and mold on its surface, discard them. 

Additionally, it’s considered expired coconut milk if it begins to curdle.

Smell

Another easy way to tell if coconut milk has gone bad is simply giving it a good sniff. 

It develops a rancid odor when the milk starts to spoil, which gets stronger with time. If you already notice some odor changes in your coconut milk, this is a sign that it’s no longer good.

Taste

If you’re still undecided, you can also check the taste to see if your coconut milk is already bad. 

Always remember that spoiled coconut milk features acidic and sour flavor profiles. If you notice that the flavor begins to change, consider throwing it away!

How long does coconut milk last

As mentioned, coconut milk does go bad. 

However, several key factors can lead to spoilage: storage condition, packaging, and storage methods. 

And every time you open your packaged coconut milk, the air gets in, affecting the quality of the milk over time. 

The table below shows a detailed breakdown of the shelf life of coconut milk, based on its packaging, storage condition, and storage method.

Shelf life with storage method
Unopened can2-5 years (kitchen pantry)
Opened can7 days (in the fridge)
Unopened carton4 weeks (in the fridge)
Opened carton7 days (in the fridge)

How to store coconut milk

The way you pick to store your coconut milk depends on whether or not the package is open. 

For an unopened can of coconut milk, it’s always a good idea to leave the milk in its original package and store the milk in a cool, dark, and dry place like your kitchen pantry. 

Note: You can also put it directly in the fridge: 

For opened ones, refrigeration is a must to extend its shelf life. 

Here’s the proper way to store an opened package of coconut milk in the refrigerator: 

Tools needed:

  • Coconut milk in can or carton (opened)
  • Airtight container
  • Refrigerator

Instructions for storing opened can of coconut milk in the fridge:

  1. Pour the coconut milk into an airtight container. Make sure the vessel is clean and dry. 
  2. Cover the container tightly and store it in the fridge as soon as possible. 
  3. Consume the stored coconut milk within a week.

Pro tip: Store the milk in the coldest part of the fridge and not in the door where it will be exposed to air every time you open it.

What does bad coconut milk taste like?

As stated, bad coconut milk tastes acidic and sour, with an unpleasant odor you can’t ignore.

Does coconut milk need to be refrigerated?

The answer is it depends. 

If your coconut milk is sealed in a can and it’s unopened, then it’s safe not to put them in the refrigerator. 

However, opened package of coconut milk requires refrigeration as the product is likely exposed to air, leading to spoilage.

Can you freeze coconut milk?

Yes, you can freeze coconut milk. However, this isn’t advisable as the milk texture may become a little grainy after thawing. 

Besides, an unopened can of coconut milk lasts for years, so freezing the whole thing doesn’t make sense.

The bottom line

Obviously, canned coconut milk has a long shelf life compared to those milk packed in cartons. 

Either the two, it’s always worth noting that the quality of the ingredient deteriorates over time. 

But always remember—coconut milk can last for weeks and even years when handled or stored properly.

Nonetheless, you should never use coconut milk that smells off or has an unpleasant taste. If you’re even whether it’s safe to use, it’s best to toss it out!

Homemade Coconut Milk

Homemade Coconut Milk

Make your coconut milk with just two simple ingredients! It's creamy, sweet, and a great dairy-free substitute for milk!

Ingredients

  • 2 C shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3-4 C(720 -960 ml) water (use less water for thicker, creamier milk!)
  • Pinch salt

Instructions

  1. Pour 3 cups (720 ml) of water, 3 cups (720 ml) of coconut, and any other optional ingredients into a high-speed blender. Make sure it doesn't spill by covering it with a towel and putting a lid on it. A good two minutes of pulverizing is all that is needed to bring the mixture together.
  2. You can do this by taking a spoonful and tasting it. Add more dates, salt, or vanilla if necessary... For thicker sauces, add the remaining 1 cup (240 milliliters).
  3. Cover your mixing bowl or pitcher with a nut milk bag, a thin towel, or even a clean T-shirt to keep the mixture from evaporating while you mix it. For me, straining through a thin towel or nut milk bag is the best way to go about it. The pulp can be used in baked goods, oatmeal, smoothies, and energy bites.
  4. Re-seal and refrigerate in an airtight container Up to 5 days if appropriately refrigerated (sometimes more). This is a natural product with no preservatives, it can separate in the fridge and must be shaken before each use! To make smoothies, add it to your granola; make golden milk; make matcha lattes; or use it in baked goods, it is versatile.

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