If you are a fan of drinking kefir then you may be wondering that how long this fermented milk drink can last. Kefir as we all know is made by adding kefir grains to milk which creates a tangy drink that is rich with good bacteria, nutrients and has many health benefits.
However, like other fermented foods, kefir does have a shelf life and it is important to know how to store and handle it properly to ensure that it stays fresh and safe to consume for a longer period of time.
In this article, we’ll discuss about how long kefir can last, shelf life of kefir, how to properly store it and how you can tell if it has gone bad.
- Can Kefir Go Bad?
- How Long Does Kefir Last?
- How Can I Tell if Kefir Has Gone Bad?
- How To Store a Kefir?
- How Long Does Kefir Last in the Fridge?
- How Long Does Kefir Last in the Freezer?
- How Long Does Kefir Stay Good After Opening?
- What Factors Affects the Shelf Life of Kefir?
- How to Extend the Shelf Life of Kefir?
- Can I Store My Kefir at Room Temperature?
- Can Expired Kefir Make Someone Sick?
- Final Words
Can Kefir Go Bad?
Yes, just like any other beverage or fermented drink, kefir does have an expiration date and can become dangerous for your health if consumed after that date.
Kefir is a probiotic drink which is made from fermented cow, goat, or sheep’s milk (basically fermented milk) and it can go bad quickly if not stored properly. It is important to store kefir in refrigirator and serve it cold in order to preserve its freshness.
Additionally, the good live bacteria in kefir can die over time if exposed to too much heat or oxygen, which means that it should be consumed within a few days of opening.
Not taking proper precautions when storing kefir can lead to bacterial contaminants, which can potentially cause health issues such as nausea or diarrhea, if consumed.
How Long Does Kefir Last?
Kefir has a surprisingly long shelf life and can last anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks if stored correctly and depending on how often you drink your kefir. It is important to store your kefir in an airtight container in the refrigerator, as this will help keep it fresh for longer.
But, even after the time frame has passed, it might still be safe for you to consume your milk kefir drink as long as it has not developed any strange colors or smell. If your kefir drink is out at above 4 degrees celsius then it should not be used after 24 hours, as there might be a high risk of food poisoning in it.
To ensure optimal safety and flavor, always store the kefir in a cool, dry place and check for signs of spoilage before drinking it.
How Can I Tell if Kefir Has Gone Bad?
There are a few signs which you can look for to make sure if the kefir has gone bad or not. Below mentioned are some signs to indicate that the kefir has gone bad:
1. Sour Smell
One of the most obvious signs to see if your fresh kefir has gone bad is a sour smell. If you notice that your kefir drink has a sharp, tangy smell, then there are high chances that your drink is spoiled. This happens because the bacteria in kefir starts to break down and produce an unpleasant smell over time, which can indicate that it is no longer safe to consume.
You should throw any kefir which starts to smell sour as consuming it can make you sick.
2. Presence of Mold
The presence of mold is another indication that your kefir has gone bad. Mold can form on kefir when it’s not handled or stored properly. As the microorganisms in the drink starts to die, they form a layer of white or gray fuzzy film over the surface of the drink.
If you see any such mold growth on your kefir, then the drink should be thrown away immediately as it can be dangerous for your health.
3. Sour Taste
One of the surest signs to tell whether your kefir has gone bad is by checking how your own kefir taste. If the kefir tastes a bit sour, then you should immediately throw it away as it has gone bad now. You may also notice a slight change in the color of your kefir, as this can happen when bacteria grows in the bottle.
How To Store a Kefir?
Storing kefir correctly is essential to increase its shelf life and ensure that it remains rich in gut-boosting bacteria. The best way to store your kefir is by keeping it cool and out of sunlight, like in an airtight container and placing that container in the refrigerator, as this will help keep it fresh for longer.
Frozen kefir can stay fresh for approximately 2-3 weeks depending on the type. For example, milk kefir stays fresh for a longer period of time than water or plain kefir.
How Long Does Kefir Last in the Fridge?
How long a kefir will last in the fridge will depend on the type of kefir you have stored. Below given is the timeline of how long kefir will last when stored in a refrigerator:
1. Unopened Store Bought Kefir:
The shelf life of unopened store-bought kefir is usually between 1-2 weeks. This is because it has been pasteurized and has been made with non-dairy ingredients, which significantly reduces the risk of spoilage.
2. Homemade Kefir:
When stored in the refrigerator, homemade kefir will stay fresh for up to 2-4 weeks. Although this time period can be extended further by adding preservatives or picking out particles of lactose. Always keep in mind that the longer you store your homemade kefir in your fridge, the less potent its probiotic levels will go.
3. Kefir That Has Been Opened:
The answer of this depends on whether the kefir is pasteurized or not. If pasteurized, then you can expect the opened kefir to remain fresh for about 1-2 weeks after opening it but only if stored properly in the refrigerator. But, if unpasteurized, then it can go bad within 5-7 days from opening.
How Long Does Kefir Last in the Freezer?
How long a kefir will last in the freezer will depend on the type of kefir you have stored. Below given is the timeline of how long it will last if you freeze kefir in a freezer (the section where you keep the ice cube tray):
1. Unopened Store Bought Kefir:
Unopened store bought kefir stored in the freezer has a shelf life of about 2-3 months. The probiotics present in milk kefir are better preserved when stored at low temperatures. Since freezing kefir essentially stops the entire fermentation process, you can expect the bacterial culture to remain healthy for a much longer period of time.
2. Homemade Kefir:
The homemade kefir that is stored in the freezer has a shelf life of 3-6 months, depending on its creation process and how it was initially preserved.
If the kefir is made with non-homogenized milk and was frozen just after culturing, then it can last for about 3-4 months in the freezer. On the other hand, if pasteurized milk was used for creating the kefir then it may last for about 4-6 months.
3. Kefir That Has Been Opened:
Opened kefir when stored in the freezer can last for about 1-2 months at max. The probiotics inside it will remain active, but their potency and health benefits may decrease over time. This is the reason why it is recommended to consume the thawed kefir within 2 weeks, as that is when they provide maximum health benefits.
How Long Does Kefir Stay Good After Opening?
The shelf life of kefir after it has been opened it about 5-14 days, depending on weather it has been pasteurized or not. Unpasteurized kefir should be consumed within 5-7 days after opening it whereas pasteurized kefir can last for about 14 days but only when stored in the refrigerator.
It is important to store and handle your kefir properly, as this will ensure its freshness and healthiness.
What Factors Affects the Shelf Life of Kefir?
There are many factors that affect the shelf life of kefir, such as:
1. Type of Kefir:
The type of kefir you are storing will significantly impact its shelf life. Milk kefir will have a longer shelf life when compared to water or coconut water kefirs.
2. Storage Temperature:
Kefir should always be stored in a cold place or in the refrigerator. If kept at room temperature, then it should be consumed within 4-7 days, but if stored in the fridge then it can last for 2-4 weeks.
How to Extend the Shelf Life of Kefir?
- Store kefir in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator or freezer to prevent contamination and oxidation.
- Always check the quality of your kefir regularly and look for any changes that may spoil it for future usage.
- Label your kefir containers properly with printed date so that you don’t forget when the kefir was made or opened.
- Include probiotics, such as yogurt or active dry yeast, to improve the shelf life of kefir by preventing the overgrowth of bacteria or yeast cells.
- Avoid exposing the kefir to direct sunlight and cover the container when storing it.
Can I Store My Kefir at Room Temperature?
No, it is not recommended to store kefir at room temperature as it increases the changes of it getting spoiled and can reduce its shelf life too. It is best to store kefir in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on how long you are planning to store it for.
Can Expired Kefir Make Someone Sick?
Yes, expired kefir can make you sick. When the kefir has gone bad, it will start to smell and taste sour. Consuming expired kefir can cause food poisoning due to accumulation of bacteria over time. It is important to throw away the expired kefir as soon as you notice it.
Kefir can be a great addition to your diet, but it is also important to store and handle it properly. As mentioned earlier, the shelf life of different types of kefirs is different, which is why try to consume them as soon as possible to get the best flavor and taste of it.
Make sure to check the quality of kefir before consuming it and discard the expired kefir immediately. Following the steps and storage methods given in this guide can help you to enjoy your kefir drink till the last bottle.
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