Does Yogurt Go Bad?

Does yogurt go bad? Many people may suspect that yogurt does not go bad because it already contains bacteria (probiotics) and is made from fermented milk similar to sour cream.  Some people may think that as long as  yogurt stays refrigerated it will stay fresh indefinitely. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Yogurt will spoil eventually even if it is kept in ideal conditions.

Storing Yogurt

The shelf life of yogurt depends on how it is stored. Yogurt should be adequately sealed in its original container or a similar airtight container. This will help deter bacteria from entering the container and also keep the yogurt tasting fresh as it sits around other foods.

Yogurt should be stored in the refrigerator at 40 °F or below. Additionally, it is important to not let yogurt sit around at room temperature for too long. The FDA recommends keeping perishable foods like yogurt at room temperature no longer than two hours to avoid growth of harmful bacteria. At 90 °F , the recommendation is no longer than one hour. The sooner the product can return to the refrigerator the better.

How Long Does Yogurt Last?

Most yogurt manufacturers print a ‘best by’ or ‘use by’ date on the container. This date is the projected date that the yogurt will start to lose taste quality. This does not mean that the yogurt has expired. In general, yogurt will stay fresh 10-14 days past the printed ‘best by’ date if unopened. If the yogurt is opened, you have approximately a week to use it beyond the printed date.

Signs Of Yogurt Spoilage

Yogurt lovers know that yogurt has a natural sour taste. As yogurt ages, it becomes slightly more sour, which is still acceptable to eat. However, if you notice a strong sour taste, this likely means the product is soon about to expire or already has spoiled. Additionally, any other unnatural smell or taste should be assumed as a sign of product expiration.

Another key sign of spoilage is discoloration. For example, a plain yogurt should not be any other color than pure white. Any sign of mold or discoloration and the yogurt should be discarded.

As yogurt sits it naturally tends to pool a small quantity of  liquid on the surface. This is considered normal separation of the whey liquid and is not harmful. It can be stirred back into the product to maintain nutrients or drained away to create a thicker yogurt. However, a large quantity of liquid on the surface can signal the first signs of spoilage. Be very cautious of an expired yogurt product at this point, especially if you notice curdling.

When in doubt about all of the above signs of spoilage, it is best to just get rid of the yogurt to avoid potential serious illness.
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Can You Freeze Yogurt?

You can freeze yogurt if you do not think you can eat it before it will spoil. It will keep up to three months in the freeze in the original container or a similar airtight container. However, freezing yogurt is not ideal because the texture tends to change when yogurt is thawed. While typically the taste remains intact if not excessively kept in the freezer (beyond three months), many people complain of separation and a watery texture upon thaw. Many people give the product a good stir and are Okay with eating it as normal with no complaints. Others will only use previously frozen yogurt with other ingredients like in a smoothie or as a minor ingredient in a recipe. It boils down to individual preference of texture when dealing with thawed yogurt. Note that yogurt should always be thawed in the refrigerated and be used within a couple of days of thaw.

Conclusion

Does yogurt go bad? Yes, while yogurt contains bacteria and is fermented, it is a dairy product and will eventually expire. Generally, yogurt will last 10-14 days beyond the ‘best by’ date on the container. Signs of potential spoilage may include a strong unnatural odor, discoloration, mold, curdling, and large quantities of liquid pooling on the surface. When in doubt, discard the yogurt and buy a new container. It is better to be safe and out a few bucks than seriously ill.

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