Milk complements the taste of many foods, including your cereal and morning coffee. If you are preparing your first cup of morning Joe, opening the refrigerator and reaching for a container of milk only to find that the milk expires the same day, shouldn't be an earth shattering experience. Try to suppress the need to throw the milk in the trash. The milk is probably still safe enough to drink.
Note the date on your milk container. Some people believe the date is an expiration date -- it is not. Different wording may be used, including "sell by," "use by" and "best if used by," but these dates are merely quality dates. Milk is still safe to drink for at least five to seven days after the stamped date as long as you store it in the refrigerator at a temperature of or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooking With Milk
If you are uncomfortable drinking milk past the date stamped on the container, try using it in your recipes. Adding milk instead of water makes soups creamy and nutritious. You may also want to try adding the milk to your morning oatmeal to make it more flavorful. Milk that is past the quality date, but within the five to seven day safe period, works well for just about any recipe that calls for milk.
Consider freezing any milk that you don’t use before it expires -- just make sure that there are a few inches of empty space at the top of the container for expansion. Freezing halts the growth of bacteria, rendering perishables safe to consume indefinitely. However, freezing is a trade-off. Although the milk remains safe to drink, taste and texture may change over time. When you are ready to thaw the milk, simply pop it in the refrigerator.
Milk has a short shelf life outside of the refrigerator and only survives in temperatures above 40 degrees F for two hours before the bacterial growth that causes foodborne illnesses becomes dangerous. Standing in 90 F temperatures or higher, milk is only safe to drink for one hour. Regardless of the date stamp on the container, milk that remains in less than ideal temperatures is no longer safe to drink and should be thrown away.
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