Creamy and smooth coconut milk is a great addition to many dishes. From curry to coffee, this milk adds a hint of sweetness and richness to things while also having a delightful cooling effect. But, once we open that can, do we have to use it all at once? Or can we store it for a while to use later on? Let’s find out.
What is the best way to store coconut milk?
It depends on the type of coconut milk. Some are much more shelf stable than others, especially if they are the carton variety with additives, usually made for coffee. Canned coconut milk can be stored in the pantry prior to opening and in an airtight container in your refrigerator after opening. If you are unsure which kind of coconut milk to buy, I don’t blame you, so check out this post on the best coconut milk brands you can buy.
Personally, I store my coconut milk in sealed glass jars or bottles in the fridge. I find this way easier to be able to see if it is spoiling, and it’s also easier to give them a good shake before use. I find it is good to use opened coconut milk within 5 days, but some kinds will last longer. Always check the label.
Do not leave open coconut milk at room temperature. Unless your house is super duper cold, it’ll spoil just like regular cow’s milk, as the oil will quickly separate from the rest of it. Refrigeration helps slow the potential growth of bacteria and increase the life of your coconut milk. (This is especially true if you made the coconut milk yourself.)
Labeling your jar is also a good idea so you know how long it has been there! I know I often forget, especially when it’s busy, and those days just all blend into one!
Does coconut milk need to be refrigerated?
Most cans and cartons of coconut milk that I have found are shelf/pantry stable if unopened but need to be refrigerated immediately after opening. If you have made coconut milk yourself, that will need to be refrigerated straight away.
Factors that influence coconut milk storage:
An airtight container in the refrigerator will help keep your coconut milk fresher for longer. Don’t leave it in the can! I prefer a glass bottle so you can shake it up and evenly distribute its fat particles through the coconut water every so often.
Your opened coconut milk will spoil if left in warm temperatures, and this is because the coconut milk will start to separate and create a bad texture and taste. Store your coconut milk in the refrigerator at 40°F or below for best results.
Type of coconut milk
Different varieties of coconut milk will affect its longevity. Full fat will often have a better shelf life than low-fat, processed cartons of coconut milk for your coffee will last longer than the coconut milk you made yourself. My barista keeps the coconut milk he uses for coffee on the counter, opened all day, and it doesn’t seem to go bad, whereas once I tried to make my own coconut milk, left it out for a few hours, and it soured.
Can you freeze coconut milk?
Yes, you CAN freeze coconut milk! It may affect the product’s texture once it has been defrosted, so if that is important to you, then it isn’t a great idea. Your coconut milk should be good for a few months in the freezer. Before use, take it out and leave it in the fridge to defrost or on the kitchen bench if you are sure you won’t forget about it.
Frozen coconut milk can also be dumped as is into a curry while you are cooking it, especially if it’s a low and slow-cooked recipe.
How to spot spoiled coconut milk
Coconut milk that has gone bad might smell a bit funky or have a slimy or lumpy texture. Discoloration may also occur. If you notice any of these things, better to be safe than sorry; throw it away!
In order to really know what bad coconut milk (or anything for that matter) smells like, I always sniff stuff when it is fresh so I can compare the smells later. I literally do this for all my foods, and over time, your nose will become quite adept at sniffing out the not-so-fresh ingredients in your fridge!
Coconut milk is a great dairy alternative unless you’re on a low-fat diet. It contains healthy fats and various vitamins and minerals not necessarily found in cow’s milk. It tends to be easier on the stomach than cow’s milk too. It may not be healthier if you buy the packaged and carton varieties with added sugar and preservatives, though.
This depends on personal preference and dietary needs. Generally, coconut milk contains more healthy fats than almond milk but has fewer vitamins and minerals. Additionally, almond milk is usually lower in calories than coconut milk. Almond milk these days is more likely to contain added sugars, stabilizers, and other things, so coconut is probably a safer bet if you want to avoid those.
Coconut milk is high in fat, and that fat solidifies at cool to cold temperatures. Sometimes, if your milk looks curdled, but you know it isn’t off, it is because of this. Have you ever had coconut oil, and noticed how in summer it’s liquid, and in winter it is solid? Those bits of oil in the milk are doing the same thing, and it’s always winter in your fridge.