Coffee creamer is a great substitute for traditional creamers (like cream or half-n-half) to lighten, sweeten and even flavor coffee. There are many non-dairy options which makes it a great choice for those following a vegan or dairy-free lifestyle.
But how long does liquid coffee creamer last? The lifespan of coffee creamer depends on the type of creamer, the way you’ve stored it and a few other things. Let’s take a closer look.
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Your Creamer Expiration Date and Best Before Date
The expiry date is a date that is printed on the creamer in the packaging process in the factory. A lot of research goes into that little smudged black ink on the package. Food scientists take a sample of the creamer, place it under typical storage conditions and count the days til it may no longer be safe to consume.
The best before date is a little bit different. It tells you more about the freshness and quality of the creamer. Once you pass the best before date, the creamer isn’t off, but it’s not at its best either – you can still safely add it to your coffee.
The first thing to look at when curious about the freshness of your creamer are these two dates. If you haven’t reached either date and you’ve stored it appropriately, you’re good to go.
Since these dates are often conservative, it’s unlikely that the creamer is unusable if you’re a few days past them. If the creamer expired a few months – or years! – prior, however, you definitely won’t want to add it to your coffee!
Don’t be too quick to head to the trash! There are times when you can choose to ignore the expiration date. For example, if you’ve frozen a liquid creamer, it’s most likely still perfect to use. You’ll need to use your own judgement here and if unsure, look for other signs of freshness.
Which Coffee Creamer Lasts the Longest?
Maybe you don’t use creamer but like to have it on hand for visitors or maybe you only use it now and then. If this is the case, it makes sense to choose a creamer that has a long shelf-life.
These are some estimates of the typical lifespans of popular creamer options:
- Carton liquid dairy creamers: 1 – 2 weeks from opening (refrigerated)
- Carton non-dairy liquid coffee creamers: Around 2 weeks from opening (pantry to refrigerator)
- Sealed cups dairy coffee creamers: 1-6 months
- Sealed cups non-dairy coffee creamers: 1-6 months
- Dairy powdered creamers: 3-6 months
- Non-dairy powdered coffee creamers: 3-6 months
Disclosure: Every coffee creamer company has different recommendations for expired coffee creamer and the shelf life of coffee creamers they make. Please refer to each individual coffee creamer brand to find out their recommendations for their different types of coffee creamer.
It’s easy to see that powdered creamers have the longest shelf-lives with those cute little sealed cups coming in closely behind. The little cups last for a long time due to the packaging process which is similar to canned milk products.
Coffeemate Sugar Free French Vanilla Powdered Coffee Creamer
French vanilla coffee creamer is the way to go. Add that it’s sugar free and you can sip away without worry.
How to Prolong the Life of Coffee Creamer
The two biggest factors when it comes to getting the most out of your creamer purchase are the type of creamer you choose and how you store it.
Choose Your Creamer Carefully
Select a creamer based on your consumption and lifestyle and you won’t go wrong. Only need it for guests? A powdered creamer in the pantry is a good idea. You enjoy some creamer now and then but not often? Those little cups are a great choice.
If you’re a huge fan of coffee creamer and go through it quickly then the liquid cartons are an easy choice (and won’t go to waste). Choose your creamer based on your coffee habits and you’ll waste a lot less and have more money for coffee beans. Bulk buying can be tempting but in the end, it often leads to waste (or a nasty sour creamer experience!)
Store All Types of Coffee Creamers Carefully
The best way to prolong the lifespan of your creamer is to follow the storage instructions on the product.
Liquid creamers in cartons must be refrigerated once opened, and if you bought it from the refrigerated aisle, you’ll need to refrigerate it straight away. Store it near the back of the refrigerator further away from temperature fluctuations that occur near the door. Some folks think you can leave it out at room temperature, but this isn’t recommended.
If you love buying large cartons of creamer (it works out cheaper), you may want to decant and freeze some, especially if you know you won’t use the whole carton before it turns sour. You can typically freeze liquid creamer for about 4-6 months (if previously opened).
Pantry-stored creamers, like the powdered ones or the little cups, should be stored in ambient and dry conditions. Never use a product that has damaged packaging, there’s a risk that bacteria may have contaminated it.
How Can I Tell if Coffee Creamer is Bad?
If you’ve checked the fine print and you’re feeling unsure about the freshness of your creamer, it’s time to engage your senses. You’ll want to smell it, take a closer look at the texture, and if you’re really brave, taste some.
Remember when it comes to liquid dairy, and even liquid non-dairy creamers, there is bacteria involved. After a length of time, especially in an opened container, bacteria or fungi multiply and you end up with creamer that poses a risk of food poisoning.
Powdered creamer products tend to last for ages but if there is any moisture contamination, mold is a serious possibility. Take a very close look when you open the package.
Telltale Signs of Bad Coffee Creamer
- Sour or strange smell
- Texture change – clumps or floating masses, separated liquid
- Taste – if your coffee tastes strange, creamer is the first suspect!
What if it smells, looks, and tastes fine even though the expiry date has passed? Well, the good news is that bad creamer never tastes good. If it passes the above tests, it’s most likely safe to use – which is often the case with powdered creamers.
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to test your creamer is to make an experimental cup of coffee and take a small sip after you’ve had a long sniff and a good look at it, of course.
About the Author:
Nicole Gent loves to write (with a cup of coffee at her side, of course) when she isn’t chasing after her four kids or working hard to keep her plant babies alive. For more info, you can find her at www.nicolegent.com.
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