Does coconut milk go bad?
Does coconut milk go bad?

In the previous article, we saw does oat milk go bad, and how about coconut milk? Can coconut milk spoil too? What does it look like when it goes bad? How to store it to prolong its shelf-life? Keep reading to find out all the answers.

Coconut milk is one of the most popular plant kinds of milk obtained from coconut meat. It would be best not to mix it with coconut water inside the coconut. It’s a sweet and milky white mixture extracted from the fruit’s flesh. There are two kinds of this product – thick and thin.

Coconut milk is an excellent substitute for dairy products, making it a suitable product for both vegans and people who suffer from lactose intolerance. It is used for cooking and baking, and it has versatile usage.

This product has an exceptional value, but does coconut milk go bad? Can it spoil? Sadly – yes. Like all other dairy and plant kinds of milk, coconut milk can go bad.

Coconut milk can go bad too
Coconut milk can spoil, too (shutterstock.com)

The shelf-life of this product will depend on its kind (thick or thin) and packaging. Coconut beverages in cans can last longer – if it’s unopened and properly stored; they could last 2 to 5 years. Product in a carton has a shorter shelf-life. Unopened and adequately stored, it will last up to 12 months and a month after expiration.

According to USDA, if left on the counter, you should discard coconut milk after two hours. Also, You should keep it in the refrigerator only. Lastly, you can consume coconut milk sold in the fridge only a week after expiration.

Once opened, coconut milk lasts 7 to 10 days if you keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Type of coconut milkPantryFridge
Unrefrigerated unopen cartonBest by (+ 3 to 6 months)
Unrefrigerated open carton5 to 10 days
Refrigerated unopen cartonUse by (+ 3 to 7 days)
Refrigerated open carton5 to 10 days
Unopened canned coconut milkBest by (+ 6 to 12 months)
Opened canned coconut milk5 to 10 days
Homemade coconut milk3 to 4 days
Shelf-life of coconut milk

Does coconut milk go bad? Sadly it does.

What should coconut milk look like?

Quality coconut milk should be a thick liquid that you can quickly spoon – it’s much thicker than animals, and it has a consistency like chocolate syrup. When you open a can of coconut milk, on top should be a solid white substance called coconut cream. Most fats and proteins are concentrated in this cream, then in a watery-milky part beneath.

Coconut milk is often used in cooking and baking
Coconut milk is often used in cooking and baking (shutterstock.com)

Yes, coconut milk naturally separates, and that is not a sign of spoilage, but you can easily combine two parts – shake the can well or simply pour it in a pot and stir it. Cream and milk will come together quickly.

What should coconut milk smell like?

Fresh, unspoiled coconut milk should have a mild coconut smell, which is natural since it’s made out of coconuts. Also, it will have a subtly sweet and creamy aroma.

Homemade coconut milk
Homemade coconut milk (shutterstock.com)

What color should coconut milk be?

Depending on the manufacturer, coconut milk can have many shade varieties, including snow white color up to an opaque (non-transparent) off-white creamy color. 

Fresh coconut milk is white with pleasant coconut taste and aroma
Fresh coconut milk is white, with a pleasant coconut taste and aroma (shutterstock.com)

Why is my coconut milk gray?

The gray color of coconut milk can have a double meaning – it could be a result of the protein level that milk has (and its production process), but it could also mean that coconut milk has gone wrong. Never judge whether your milk is spoiled based on color.

Smell it and taste it, too.

How can you tell if coconut milk has gone bad?

If you notice mold formations on the surface of coconut milk, the product is not good, and you can throw it away. Milk won’t have a recognizable coconut aroma but a weird rancid sour smell. Mold and changed smell are secure signs of spoilage. 

Also, changed texture – chunks and dark colors or clumps in the milk texture are strong indicators that coconut milk is sour.

Coconut milk can be canned or packed in cartons
Coconut milk can be canned or packed in cartons (shutterstock.com)

A swollen coconut milk container is also a reliable sign that the product inside is spoiled. Never use damaged cans of coconut milk or milk from a swollen carton.

What does coconut taste like when it goes bad?

Like dairy milk, you can tell if coconut milk has gone bad by its taste – it will have a sour and unpleasant rancid taste. If you see mold formations on the surface of the milk, don’t taste it!

Spoiled coconut milk has chunks and clumps
Spoiled coconut milk has chunks and clumps (shutterstock.com)

Coconut milk can have a metallic taste if refrigerated in its original can.

Never store any food in metal packaging, as metals could seep into your food and make it unsafe to eat. Instead, please keep it in an airtight container. Coconut milk with a metallic flavor should be disposed of.

Why is my coconut milk solid?

Don’t be alarmed if your coconut milk is solid. That is not a sign of spoilage.

Coconut milk separates when refrigerated (even at room temperature) – the solid white mass you see is simply coconut cream. You can eat it with a spoon or give it a good shake, and it will combine with the liquid again.

Coconut cream on top of coconut milk
Coconut cream on top of coconut milk (Shutterstock.com)

Why does my coconut milk taste like soap?

Lauric acid is the one to blame if your milky product tastes like soap. Interestingly, this acid is commonly used in soap production. No worry, your product is not rotten, even if it has a weird soapy smell.

Does canned coconut milk go bad?

Yes, products in canned packaging can go wrong too.

Unopened can will have shelf-life 2 to 5 years, while opened can last only a week after opening – and only if it’s refrigerated.

Canned coconut milk can go bad too.
Canned coconut milk can go wrong, too (Shutterstock.com)

Why does my canned coconut milk look curdled?

Different reasons can curdle canned coconut milk for food storage temperature changes, level of fat in coconuts, or ratio of coconuts and water. Curdled milk doesn’t necessarily mean spoiled product, and if there are no other ominous signs, it’s usually good to use.

How long is coconut milk good past the expiration date?

Unopened and adequately stored shelf-stable products will be good to use 3 or 4 weeks after expiration. The “Best by” label on the container doesn’t mean that product will be unusable on that day – it simply means it will retain the best quality.

Coconut milk in carton
Coconut milk in cartons (shutterstock.com)

If your product packaging is not damaged and the product was adequately stored, open it. If there are no signs that it’s not good, use it freely.

Is it safe to use expired coconut milk?

Yes, you can use an expired product if the carton was correctly stored and there are no signs that the milk is rancid. If you notice any indication that your milk is spoiled, do not use it, or you could get food poisoning.

Can old coconut milk make you sick?

Old – nope, but spoiled – yes.

If you drink rancid coconut beverages, you could get food poisoning and an upset stomach, including vomiting, painful cramps, fever, fatigue, diarrhea.

Chicken curry with coconut milk
Chicken curry with coconut milk (shutterstock.com)

How do you store an opened can of coconut milk?

A fridge is a perfect storage for opened can, but do not keep coconut milk in the can while refrigerating it. Pour it in an airtight container or glass bottle and wrap its top with aluminum foil. Products kept in the fridge will last up to a week.

Can you freeze coconut milk?

Yes, you can freeze this kind of milk the same way as freeze almond milk. Pour it into an ice-cube tray. When cubes are frozen, please put them in a zip-lock plastic bag, so you can defrost the exact amount you need.

Citations:

  • https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/does-coconut-milk-go-bad#:~:text=An%20unopened%20can%20will%20have,for%20seven%20to%2010%20days.&text=If%20the%20coconut%20milk%20has,sour%20and%20may%20contain%20mold.
  • https://www.canitgobad.net/can-coconut-milk-go-bad/
  • https://www.stilltasty.com/Fooditems/index/19081
  • https://makerlandfoodie.com/coconut-milk-is-bad/
  • https://www.doesitgobad.com/does-coconut-milk-go-bad/
  • https://www.thecoconutcompany.co/blogarchive/2021/6/17/manufacturers-everything-you-need-to-know-about-buying-organic-coconut-milk-and-cream-in-bulk#:~:text=From%20the%20date%20of%20manufacture,that%20it%20doesn’t%20deteriorate.