Rice milk is a commonly used dairy alternative. You’ll usually see it in cartons on the supermarket shelves or in the dairy section next to other kinds of milk, but how long will it last? What are the signs of it going bad? And is there any way to make it last longer? If you’re asking yourself any of those questions, read on.
How long rice milk lasts depends on if it can be kept out of the refrigerator or not. Shelf-stable rice milk, the kind that doesn’t have to go in the fridge until you open it, can last up to a month after its “best by” date unopened. The rice milk that you see in the refrigerated sections can still be good seven to ten days after its “best by” date if you don’t open it. Once you open it, rice milk lasts approximately five to seven days past the “best by” date in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind that these dates aren’t exact ones. Your rice milk might last longer, or it might not last as long. The key is checking your milk before you use it.
Does Rice Milk Go Bad? How Long Does Rice Milk Last?
Making your rice milk last can be as simple as storing it in the pantry until you open it, but making it last longer requires a few more steps. Let’s take a closer look.
How Long Does Rice Milk Last Outside?
Shelf-stable rice milk can last around three weeks to a month after the “best by” date. That’s if you keep it unopened in a cool, dry place away from any light or heat sources. A cupboard or pantry works well.
Off-the-shelf rice milk is shelf-stable because it’s gone through ultra-high temperature treatments, which sterilize it. Opening the carton breaks the sterilization, so the milk must be stored in the fridge to last.
As for the kind of rice milk that must be refrigerated, it lasts up to two hours outside before it must be put back in the fridge.
How Long Does Rice Milk Last in The Fridge?
The rice milk you find in the refrigerated section lasts seven to ten days past its “best by” date if unopened. When opened, rice milk lasts around five to seven days.
Homemade rice milk hasn’t gone through the same sterilization processes that the store-bought varieties have, so it will only last three to four days and must be stored in the fridge.
When you store rice milk, make sure you store it in the middle of the fridge, because storing it on the door means the milk will be exposed to light and heat from outside the fridge, and it’ll go bad faster.
How Long Does Rice Milk Last in The Freezer?
Opinions vary over whether you should freeze rice milk. The main problem is that freezing ice milk changes its texture changes when it thaws, and it doesn’t taste the same.
Rice milk can last three months in the freezer. In theory, it can last longer, but the more time it spends in the freezer, the more the flavor will be affected. The other main issue is with the ingredients separating as they freeze. The ingredients can be recombined, although some texture changes might remain.
The best way to freeze the milk by using freezer-safe bags. Some people also use ice cube trays to freeze the milk into smaller cubes before placing them in the freezer bags.
Just because rice milk lasts past its “best by” date doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to wait until the last minute before using it. Those dates are there for a reason, and that reason is to make sure you get the best out of your rice milk.
How To Tell if Rice Milk Has Gone Bad?
Rice milk might not last forever, but you can look for certain hints that it’s time to throw the milk away.
- Smell: Here’s a sign that everyone should know. If the rice milk smells strange, it’s because it’s started to break down and is no longer drinkable
- Taste: If the smell seems iffy but you aren’t sure about whether to use it, try taking a small taste of the milk
- Package: If you see any leaks in the packaging, that means you should throw it out. But did you know that if rice milk expands if it gets bacteria in it? A bloated package is another sign that it’s no good
- Mold/discolorations: Mold is a big sign that your rice milk has gone bad. Similarly, other discolorations mean that you might not want to drink it.
- Clumps: Not to be confused with the ingredients settling. Like with dairy milk, if you pour the milk into a glass and can see clumps in it, it’s no longer safe to drink.
- In the fridge too long: How long has the rice milk been in the fridge? Has it been longer than a week? If so, you should toss it even if it looks all right.
How To Store Rice Milk?
Here are some tips and tricks that will help you store your rice milk so it lasts.
- If you have trouble closing the original container, you can store your rice milk in an air-tight container. An opaque container works the best since exposure to light accelerates spoiling. Don’t forget to put the date on the container so you will know when you put it in
- Canning jars work well as air-tight containers since it’s easy to know once they’ve been opened.
- Once you’ve opened the container, make sure it’s closed as tightly as possible when you’re done. Bacteria and other harmful things can get inside an improperly closed container
- The optimal temperature for storing rice milk in the fridge is between 32 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit or two to five degrees Celsius. This is usually on the top or middle shelf of the fridge, away from any warm or smelly foods
Can You Freeze Rice Milk? How?
It is possible to freeze rice milk, but this tends to be a divisive question. Most manufacturers recommend not freezing it, as freezing affects the temperature and taste. Freezing also affects the time that the milk will be good after it’s thawed, cutting it down to one to two days before it won’t be safe to eat.
- Freezer-safe bags or containers are the best way to freeze rice milk, but bags are easier to press the air out of, making the milk last longer
- Always leave some space in the container for the milk to expand. Rice milk, like a lot of other kinds of milk and milk substitutes, tends to expand when it freezes. At least an inch to an inch and a half of extra space is best
- When freezing rice milk, don’t store it near or on the freezer door. Using the door exposes the milk to temperature changes, making it go bad faster
- The best temperature for storing frozen rice milk is at a constant zero degrees Fahrenheit, or -17 degrees Celsius.
How To Thaw Rice Milk?
Rice milk does not thaw out quickly because of the ingredients; it’s a process that can take days at most.
- The simplest way to thaw rice milk is to move it from the freezer to the fridge and leave it for two to three days
- If you don’t have the time to wait for that, you can put the container into hot water, changing out the water every half hour or so until it’s usable
Frequently Asked Questions About Rice Milk’s Shelf Life
What happens if I drink bad rice milk?
If you don’t see the warning signs and drink spoiled rice milk, the best-case scenario is nothing happens. Rice milk often has preservatives in it like sugar or salt, which help keep it good. But as it goes bad, you’re risking an upset stomach and vomiting, at least.
How long does rice milk powder last?
Powdered rice milk is essentially rice milk without the water, or powdered rice with a few extra ingredients like sugar. It’s not as common as liquefied milk since it’s more expensive, so people either buy the liquid version from the store or make their own. It’s hard to find any information on the powder, but going by the expiration date on regular white rice, it will last at least two years.
Rice milk might not last as long as some milk alternatives but it can last a long time, especially the shelf-stable brand. With lasting power like that, you’re more likely to use it all up before it can go bad.