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If you have had a packet of coffee creamer in your pantry for months, you’re probably wondering if it’s still good to use or completely ruined. You are not alone. This confusion is expected because they typically don’t give prominent signs of going bad. So how long does creamer last?
Liquid coffee creamers that require refrigeration last about two weeks once opened and a week past their use-by date unopened. Powder creamers can last up to three months past their use-by date unopened and over a year once opened. Heavy cream and half and half go sour within a week once opened.
There are several types of coffee creamers available on the market. Each kind has a different life expectancy, which depends on a few factors such as ingredients, storage, etc. Below, you will find details on the various creamers and how long they last.
The Lifespan of Coffee Creamers
So how long exactly do coffee creamers last? Let’s look into the lifespan of each kind of coffee creamer and see how long you can hold onto it.
How Long Do Powder Creamers Last?
The powder version of coffee creamers, also known as a coffee whitener, generally lasts the longest from the full range of creamer types. It contains several preservatives to hold it up for years on the shelf, and if you store it correctly, it will also last you a long time once opened.
The lifespan of Powder Creamer Unopened
The manufacturers of powder creamers put a best-before date on the product that usually estimates how long it will remain at its peak quality. That means once it reaches the best-before date, you can assume its quality will have reduced, but it is still safe to use for a few months after.
If properly stored, at room temperature, a package of powdered creamer can last up to 18-24 months before reaching its best-before date. However, the creamer can still be used for about three months after the best-before date.
The lifespan of Powder Creamer Opened
Once powdered coffee is opened, it can last up to a year if stored correctly. The ideal way to store it is by sealing it back tightly or transferring it to a seal-tight container and keeping it at room temperature. That will prolong the life of your powder coffee creamer.
Powder creamer never truly rots. It does lose its quality after some time which will reduce the potency of its taste. It can harden or start to smell weird, and that’s how you will know it’s time to toss it.
How Long Do Creamer Cups Last?
Creamer cups are tiny little sealed cups of liquid creamer for your coffee. They are the perfect size for travel or if you want to control portions effortlessly. You don’t have to worry about storing them or wastage because it is ideal for one cup of delicious coffee. They contain a lot of preservatives and are process under UHT (Ultra-High Temperatures), which add to their shelf life.
The Lifespan of Creamer Cups Unopened
Creamer cups have a lifespan of about six months to one year, depending on the expiry date. The date printed on the cups by the manufacturer is generally the best-before date which means that date is the life of the quality of the creamer. A creamer cup will be good for about a month past the date on the label if unopened. After that, you will want to monitor the smell, color, taste, and texture.
The Lifespan of Creamer Cups Opened
Creamer cups should be used within a day or two at most once opened and stored in the fridge. It would be best if you poured it out into another air-tight container to avoid any bacteria and mold from getting into it in the refrigerator. If you do not use it within a day or two, throw it away.
How Long Do Refrigerated Liquid Coffee Creamers Last?
Liquid coffee creamers are the typical dairy creamers that you find in the fridge section of a store; dairy coffee creamers such as heavy cream and half-and-half fall under the liquid creamer category.
The lifespan of Refrigerated Coffee Creamers Unopened
Unopened dairy liquid creamers have a best-before date of about two weeks. However, if unopened, they can last 1-2 weeks past the date in the fridge. If you are intentionally keeping it for an extended time, it would be best to store it at the back of the refrigerator where the temperature is coolest.
The lifespan of Refrigerated Coffee Creamers Opened
If your dairy liquid creamer is opened, it shouldn’t remain out of the fridge for more than a few minutes at a time and will last about 1-2 weeks. Because it contains dairy and has limited time validity, it is best to keep it at the back of the fridge where the temperature stays coolest.
How Long Do Unrefrigerated Liquid Coffee Creamers Last?
Liquid coffee creamers that you find on the shelves and not in refrigerators are typically your non-dairy creamers. They are similar to creamer cups and can be stored out of the fridge for a long time. Once opened, it would then need to be stored inside the refrigerator.
The Lifespan of Unrefrigerated Liquid Coffee Creamers Unopened
Your unopened liquid creamer will have about six months of validity before it loses its quality. You can still keep it for a couple of weeks after its best-before date if unopened, and after that, you can assume that it is probably not good to use anymore.
The Lifespan of Unrefrigerated Liquid Coffee Creamers Opened
Once your unrefrigerated liquid creamer is opened, it must be kept in the fridge and will last around 1-2 weeks and possibly an additional couple of days after that. To extend its life, keep it in the back of the fridge where it’s coldest, and make sure you monitor the taste, smell, color, and texture.
Types of Coffee Creamers
To understand how long coffee creamers last and why they can go for so long without depleting, it would be necessary to first understand the types of creamers available and what makes them different from each other.
Liquid coffee creamers would be your dairy creamers, such as heavy cream and half-and-half. It would also be non-dairy creamers like Coffee-Mate.
Some are sold in the refrigerator and don’t contain as many preservatives. They wouldn’t last as long as others.
The liquid creamers not sold in refrigerators last a lot longer, especially if unopened, because they contain more preservatives. However, once opened, they typically need to be in the fridge and cannot be kept for a long time.
Powder creamers are the OG creamers. They can make you feel like they last forever in your pantry because they hold up really well. That means they do contain a whole lot of preservatives to make sure this is possible.
The creamer cups are your convenient little liquid coffee creamers – perfect for one cup of coffee and super easy to use. They are processed to last in storage for a long time, therefore also containing many preservatives. The cups don’t need to be kept in the fridge if they are unopened.
Why Does Coffee Creamer Last So Long?
Most coffee creamers can last for about a month in the fridge after being opened. There are a few reasons that the overall lifespan and validity of coffee creamers are so lengthy. Let’s look at those reasons:
- Creamers contain a high-fat content
Coffee creamers contain significant fat content from oils. They are usually trans fats. The high-fat content helps to preserve the product, just as oils help to preserve many other consumables.
- Creamers are processed in Ultra-High Temperatures (UHT)
The UHT processing method extends the shelf life of coffee creamers. UHT (Ultra-High Temperature) methods of processing are used for creamers. This technology processes liquid food by almost sterilizing it after heating it above 275 degrees Fahrenheit (135 degrees Celcius) for a short period.
This method pasteurizes the cream and stabilizes it. Not all UHT creams are made the same way, but this is the general technique and ultimately extends the shelf life of coffee creamers.
- Creamers contain several preservatives
Several synthetic preservatives prolong the shelf life, even once opened.
A few of those ingredients are
- Dipotassium phosphate is used to keep the mixture from solidifying.
- Silicon dioxide is used to maintain the dryness and prevent caking of powdered coffee creamer.
- Soy lecithin is an additive used as an emulsifier for binding ingredients. It is also used to preserve the product’s flavor, prolonging the creamer’s taste and texture.
Creamers, especially powdered ones, contain high amounts of preservatives to extend their shelf life. Preservatives allow food products to last through transportation, shelf-stay, storage, and usage. The higher the quantity of preservatives, the longer your creamer will last.
- Creamers are not always made with actual cream
For a consumable food item to last for such a long time, specifically even after being opened, it would have to contain many artificial ingredients apart from preservatives for this to be possible.
Creamers get their rich, velvety texture from thickening agents and emulsifiers like carrageenan, a compound derived from seaweed used for consistency in dairy products and dairy alternatives.
Other common ingredients like cellulose gel and cellulose gum which are fillers derived from wood pulp or cotton, are also in creamers. Polysorbate 60, a sugar alcohol-derived emulsifier used to keep water and oil from separating in conventional cosmetics, is also added.
Artificial flavoring like imitation vanilla comes from sources, such as castoreum, a compound from a beaver’s castor sacs, claimed to be safe and used in food items. This allows coffee creamer to last much longer than it would if natural flavoring was used.
Can Coffee Creamer Spoil?
While it is not usual that many coffee creamers go rancid quickly, especially the powdered kind, it does happen.
The most common type of coffee creamer that will go bad is the dairy liquid creamers, and this is because they contain milk and have fewer preservatives. They require refrigeration, and being exposed to heat, being left out of the fridge too long, or if not closed properly, can cause spoilage.
Another way that coffee creamer can spoil is by not using the liquid creamers fast enough, especially once opened and in the fridge. Irregular fridge temperatures can also cause spoilage, and not sealing powered creamer air-tight will cause it to lose quality and attract bacteria.
How Can You Tell If Your Coffee Creamer is Rancid?
If you want to know whether your creamer is still good to use or not, there are a few pointers to look out for, such as:
- Any change in color
- Any change in smell or a sour smell
- Any change in color
- Any change in texture, like if its chunky
- Any change in taste
- If the liquid creamer is excessively separating
- If the creamer is splitting in your coffee
If you suspect that your creamer is off, but there are no prominent visible signs, the best way to figure it out is by tasting a spoonful of your creamer. If the taste is off, do not use it further.
These are a few ways to check, but common knowledge of food consumption rules and understanding is essential. If you are overextending the lifespan of your coffee creamers, you might cause foodborne illness and poisoning.
Does Rancid Coffee Creamer Make You Sick?
Sometimes, even after inspecting your coffee creamer, it’s hard to tell if it has gone off or not. This is generally because of the excess preservatives and artificial ingredients. If you consume coffee creamer that has expired or gone bad without realizing it, it could lead to illness.
The illness can sometimes be serious with tummy aches, constipation, diarrhea, rashes, vomiting, nausea, and headaches.
If you find yourself with one of these symptoms, even mildly, after consuming coffee creamer, it should indicate that the creamer has gone off.
You’re A Coffee Creamer Pro Now
The above information is a basic guideline of how long the different types of coffee creamers last. While liquid creamers can last up to 6 months and powder creamers can last more than a year, it is recommended that you use your knowledgeable discretion when consuming.
These guidelines can help you use your items to their full potential without wastage and saving you some money in the process. Don’t forget to add some yummy velvety creamer to your next cup and bask in the glorious luxury of a homemade coffee!