While Indian and other South-East Asian cultures have used coconut milk for centuries (and even millennia!), it has recently become increasingly popular in the western world as more people search for dairy substitutes, whether to save the environment, their love for animals, or purely medical reasons.
You may be a regular drinker of coconut milk who has forgotten about a carton in the back of your cupboard, or you may be wondering how long you can keep the other half of that can you used to make a curry last night.
Either way, we are here to answer your questions on how to spot coconut milk gone bad, how to store it properly, and how long it lasts!
What Is Coconut Milk & What Types Of Coconut Milk Exist?
Even though all coconut milk comes from (you guessed it!) coconuts, the variations in process and packaging make a big difference.
This is why we can find two main types of coconut milk: canned coconut milk vs. ‘carton’ coconut milk beverage (plus a couple of other minor usages such as coconut milk powder). These two types will be processed, consumed, and go bad differently.
So, Does Coconut Milk Go Bad?
We all know that dairy milk goes bad pretty quickly, and there might be a small myth about non-dairy milk lasting forever. Unfortunately, coconut milk can indeed go bad.
The length of time that coconut milk can last will vary depending on the type, the storage, and whether they are open or unopen.
Properly stored unopened canned coconut milk can last between 2 and 5 years in good quality. Canned coconut milk usually carries a best-by or best-before date as a manufacturer’s estimate of peak quality milk.
Is it safe to use after this date? Yes, as long as the can is properly stored and not damaged.
Unopened Coconut milk beverage in aseptic packaging (aka cartons) usually lasts between six and twelve months and can last up to a month after the printed expiration date.
Lastly, unopened coconut milk sold in the refrigerated section (not in aseptic packaging) should be consumed within a week of the expiration date.
After being opened, all coconut milk lasts about a week, with canned milk lasting up to 10 days.
How To Tell If Coconut Milk Has Gone Bad
As obvious as it may sound, mold is a big sign that coconut milk has gone bad. If there’s any mold in the milk, chuck it in the bin!
Other signs might be chunks in the milk, black, grey, or darkened milk, or if the milk curdles or smells off. Lastly, if a can looks swollen or bloated, you should get rid of it.
However, thick milk separation is normal and should not be taken as a sign of spoilt milk! Just shake it up (when it’s closed!) or stir it for a few seconds to get the milk back together.
How Do I Store Coconut Milk?
Unopen cans of coconut milk can stay happily in a cool, dry place such as kitchen cupboards. There is no need to freeze unopened cans as it will not really extend the shelf-life.
Opened cans should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a week, or you can freeze open milk to an increase of up to 6 months in shelf-life.
Coconut milk can easily absorb flavors from other foods, so make sure to store away from any strong-scented food in the fridge! You may also choose to store leftover can coconut milk in a different container to avoid ‘tin’ flavored milk.
Finally, if you decide to make homemade coconut milk, make sure to keep it refrigerated at all times and consume it within two days!