The Shelf Life of Oat Milk: Your Complete Guide

women taken oat milk out of refrigerator smiling

With the increasing demand for plant-based options, oat milk has surged onto the scene. It’s not just a fad; it’s a tasty, sustainable, and health-conscious choice. But one question that often pops up is: how long does oat milk actually last? We’ve brewed up this complete guide to spill the oats on that very subject.

First Of All, What IS Oat Milk?

Oat milk, in its most basic form, is made from a simple blend of oats and water

Sometimes, manufacturers add extra ingredients like oils and salts to improve texture and taste. 

Loved for its creamy texture and mild flavor, oat milk also boasts a high fiber content. So, not only is it yummy, it’s good for your tummy too!

couple buying oat milk in store

Shelf Life: Store-Bought vs. Homemade Oat Milk

Thanks to the magic of food science, store-bought oat milk usually has a longer shelf life. 

Preservatives in store-bought oat milk keep it fresh for up to 9 months, unopened in your pantry or refrigerator. On the other hand, homemade oat milk, crafted with love but without preservatives, usually lasts up to 5 days in the fridge.

How Long Does Oat Milk Last?

Shelf life varies, of course. Unopened store-bought oat milk can last 7-10 days past the ‘Best By’ date, while once opened, it’s best consumed within 7-10 days. 

Homemade oat milk, free from preservatives, has a fridge life of about 5 days. 

And what about freezing it? Good news – oat milk can last up to 6 months in the freezer! Just remember, freezing can change the texture a bit, so it’s best used in smoothies or cooking post-freeze. (read more about that here)

Storing Oat Milk Properly

There’s a trick to storing oat milk for maximum freshness. 

For store-bought versions found on a shelf in the store, cool and dark places are perfect until it’s opened. Then, straight to the fridge it goes! If you find your oat milk in the refrigerated section, put it right into your refrigerator at home. Check out our brand-specific guide on which oat milk must be refrigerated here

For homemade, it’s the fridge from the get-go. And remember to keep it at the back where it’s coldest, and not in the door where temperatures fluctuate.

Does Oat Milk Last Longer Than Regular Milk?

In general, unopened, store-bought oat milk has a slightly longer shelf life than regular milk. 

However, once opened, both should be consumed within a week or so. Of course, the real winner is frozen oat milk – regular milk just can’t compete in the big chill.

Do You Need to Refrigerate Unopened Oat Milk?

Unopened, store-bought oat milk doesn’t always require refrigeration, thanks to its packaging and preservatives. But, once opened, it’s definitely time for the fridge. And remember, homemade oat milk should always be kept cool from the get-go.

How Long Can Coffee (with Oat Milk) Sit Out Before Going Bad?

This is where it gets tricky. Generally, coffee with oat milk can last up to 4 hours at room temperature. However, when in doubt, the “smell and taste” test will serve you well.

How to Tell If Oat Milk Has Gone Bad

If your oat milk starts to smell funky, changes color, develops mold, or has a strange taste, it’s time to bid it goodbye. 

Texture changes can also be a telltale sign. If it’s clumpy or overly thick, it’s past its prime.

Tips to Extend the Shelf Life of Oat Milk

Want to squeeze out some extra days of freshness? Keep your oat milk very cold, but not frozen if you’re planning to drink it straight. 

If you’ve made a large batch of homemade oat milk, consider freezing some for later use. Remember to shake well before using, as separation is natural!

spoiled oat milk and man

What Happens If You Drink Expired Oat Milk?

Drinking spoiled oat milk might lead to food poisoning symptoms like upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. It’s always better to be safe than sorry – when in doubt, throw it out!

What To Do With Spoiled Oat Milk

So, you’ve got spoiled oat milk on your hands. What now? Simply discard it, but remember to recycle the carton! Some gardening enthusiasts might consider adding it to a compost pile, but only in small amounts, and watch how your plants react for a few days. 

The Taste of Bad Oat Milk

How does spoiled oat milk taste?

In a word – unpleasant! It can turn sour when past its date. Fresh oat milk is mildly sweet and creamy, so any significant change in flavor is a sure sign it’s time to toss it.

Why Oat Milk Lasts as Long as It Does

Why does oat milk have a particular lifespan? 

The answer lies in its ingredients and processing. Preservatives in store-bought oat milk extend its life, while storage conditions (like keeping it cool) also play a crucial role. 

For homemade oat milk, freshness is key – remember to consume it within a week!

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it, folks! Your comprehensive guide to the shelf life of oat milk. 

Remember to enjoy this delightful dairy alternative within its best-by dates for optimal taste and safety. Here’s to keeping our oat milk fresh, our bodies happy, and our planet healthier!

Anne K.

Anne is a passionate health and wellness writer who is dedicated to helping others achieve their best selves through a healthy lifestyle. She believes that small changes can lead to big improvements in overall health and works to provide practical tips and advice that readers can easily incorporate into their daily lives. Through her writing, Anne hopes to inspire and empower readers to take control of their health and live their best lives.

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