You’ve probably woken up a few mornings ready for a big bowl of your favorite cereal only to open the fridge and realize you had no milk left. Or that your 2% had soured because it’s one of those groceries you’ve been storing incorrectly in the door. To enjoy your breakfast, now you’ll have to get out of your pajamas and go to the grocery store. Shelf-stable milk might just be the solution to those days when you don’t have time to make a trip to the dairy aisle.
What exactly is shelf stable milk? It’s milk that can be stored at room temperature because of how it is pasteurized and packaged. The packaging is called aseptic packaging, and it’s a technology that preserves the safety and flavoring of food that would otherwise go bad much sooner. Foods in aseptic packaging can last up to six months.
Before the milk is packaged, it goes through a form of pasteurization. This process can reduce up to 99% of the bacteria found in milk. Now, you may think that anything with a high shelf life must be filled with preservatives. Because of the pasteurization and packaging, though, shelf-stable milk doesn’t need preservatives to keep it safe to consume.
Just because shelf-stable milk comes in this special packaging doesn’t mean it won’t expire though. Use your senses to tell if your milk is expired. If it’s discolored, lumpy or foul smelling, throw it out. Here is how long other common groceries will last in the pantry.