Oat milk is a plant-based alternative to dairy milk that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It’s a favorite among vegans, those with lactose intolerance, and those who simply prefer the taste and nutritional benefits of oat milk.
One of the most common questions asked by oat milk enthusiasts is whether or not it needs to be refrigerated. The answer is yes, oat milk needs to be refrigerated to maintain its freshness and prevent spoiling. In this article, we will dive into the reasons why oat milk needs to be refrigerated, how long it can be left unrefrigerated, and how to properly store it.
Why Does Oat Milk Need to be Refrigerated?
Oat milk, like any other perishable food product, can go bad if it’s not properly stored. Oat milk is made from a blend of oats and water, and it can easily spoil if left at room temperature for an extended period of time. Bacteria can start to grow in the oat milk, leading to spoilage, discoloration, and a sour taste.
Refrigeration slows down the growth of bacteria and helps to keep the oat milk fresh for a longer period of time. It’s recommended to store oat milk at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to ensure its freshness and prevent spoilage.
How Long Can Oat Milk Be Left Unrefrigerated?
Oat milk that is left out of the refrigerator for an extended period of time can quickly spoil. The length of time that oat milk can be left unrefrigerated depends on a variety of factors, including the temperature of the room and the presence of bacteria.
In general, it’s recommended to not leave oat milk at room temperature for more than two hours. If the room is particularly warm or humid, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not leave the oat milk out for more than an hour. If you’re not sure how long the oat milk has been sitting out, it’s best to discard it and replace it with a fresh carton.
What Happens if You Don’t Refrigerate Oat Milk?
As mentioned earlier, oat milk can quickly spoil if it’s not refrigerated. When the oat milk is left at room temperature for an extended period of time, bacteria can start to grow, leading to spoilage and a sour taste.
In addition to the unpleasant taste, consuming spoiled oat milk can also lead to foodborne illness. Symptoms of foodborne illness can range from mild stomach discomfort to more severe symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect that you’ve consumed spoiled oat milk, it’s best to contact a healthcare provider.
How Do I Know if Oat Milk is Bad?
There are a few signs that can indicate that oat milk has gone bad. The first sign is a sour or an off-taste. If the oat milk tastes sour or sour, it’s likely that it has started to spoil.
Another sign is a change in color or texture. Spoiled oat milk can become thicker or develop clumps. Additionally, the color of the oat milk may change and become darker or yellowish.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the oat milk and replace it with a fresh carton.
Difference Between Refrigerated and Unrefrigerated Oat Milk?
Refrigerated oat milk is typically sold in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. It has been pasteurized to extend its shelf life and is kept refrigerated to maintain its freshness. Refrigerated oat milk is usually good for 7-10 days after opening if kept in the fridge.
Unrefrigerated oat milk, on the other hand, is shelf-stable and can be stored at room temperature until it is opened. Once opened, unrefrigerated oat milk should be kept in the refrigerator and consumed within 7-10 days. You should ensure your refrigerator is in good condition to keep your oat milk fresh.
Can I Freeze Oat Milk?
Yes, oat milk can be frozen to extend its shelf life. Freezing oat milk can keep it fresh for up to three months. To freeze oat milk, pour the milk into an airtight container and leave a small amount of room at the top for expansion. When you’re ready to use the oat milk, thaw it in the refrigerator and shake well before using.
How Do You Make Oat Milk Last Longer?
There are a few things you can do to make oat milk last longer. First, make sure to always store it in the refrigerator once it’s been opened. Additionally, make sure to keep the container tightly sealed to prevent bacteria from entering.
If you’re buying a large carton of oat milk and don’t think you’ll use it all within a week, consider freezing some of it in small portions.
Finally, always check the expiration date before purchasing oat milk. Make sure to choose the freshest carton available to ensure the longest shelf life.
What Color Should Healthy Oat Milk Be?
Healthy oat milk should be a creamy, off-white color. If the oat milk appears yellow or brown, it’s likely that it has started to go bad and should be discarded.
In conclusion, oat milk is a delicious and nutritious alternative to dairy milk, but it needs to be properly stored to maintain its freshness and prevent spoilage.
Always refrigerate oat milk and don’t leave it at room temperature for more than two hours. Additionally, make sure to discard oat milk that has gone bad and always check the expiration date before purchasing.