Milk Shelf Life: How Long Does Milk Last?

What is the average shelf life of milk? How long does milk last in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer? What is the best way to store milk to increase its shelf life? Find out the answers to these questions and more below.

Milk is available in many varieties, including reduced fat, whole milk, non-fat, and skimmed milk. It can be processed into dairy products, which includes butter, yogurt, and cheese. Milk provides individuals with a high content of vitamins, which results in promoting muscle growth and improving muscle recovery post-exercise.

Shelf Life of Milk

Lactose-Free7-9 Days
Non-Fat7-9 Days
Skim Milk5-7 Days
Reduced-Fat5-7 Days
Whole5-7 Days

Milk lasts for around seven days beyond the best-buy date. The shelf life depends on multiple factors, including the carton date, the processing method, its exposure to heat and light, and the method used for its storage. If properly stored (at or below 40°F), milk will last for a long while after the date printed on the carton.

If you have bought lactose-free milk that is unopened, you should refrigerate it. The milk will last for around 7-10 days.

If you are using non-fat milk that is opened, the milk will last for 7-10 days. Skimmed milk and reduced-fat dairy last for around 7 days. Whole milk lasts 5-7 days if opened and refrigerated. All varieties of milk last for an average of approximately 5-7 days.

How to Purchase Milk:

When you buy milk from the market, make sure to check whether it is raw or pasteurized. Raw milk needs to be heated to a specific temperature to get rid of all bacteria.

Check whether the milk is whole or low-fat. Low-fat milk is more harmful than whole milk, as it does not contain the proper nutrients.

Check the expiration date, and also check the label to see if the milk is organic, grass-fed, and contains no hormones.

Storing Milk:

It is easy to keep milk fresh for a long time when stored in the best conditions. Refrigerate the milk at 0-4° centigrade after you purchase it from the market. Check the best-by date on the milk, and buy the carton which has a date furthest in the future.

After you open the milk at home, it is safe to use it for three days. Thus, it is better to buy milk in small amounts rather than in bulk. Store milk on cooler shelves of the refrigerator and away from other food items so that it does not pick up the smell of other foods.

Avoid exposing milk to heat and light to prevent destroying the vitamins.

How to Handle Milk:

Milk can be kept frozen for around six weeks without any adverse effects on nutritional value or flavor. You can thaw the milk inside the refrigerator, which will result in separation and a loss of its smooth texture. Upon thawing, you can beat it with an electric mixer with a whip attachment.

Purpose of Milk in Cooking:

Milk used for cooking is referred to as ‘cow’s milk.’ It is interchangeable with recipes but adds nutrition and a browning capability. Heat milk slowly and carefully while using for it cooking to avoid scorching the milk. If you use skimmed milk instead of whole milk, you will notice slightly reduced richness and flavor.