- What’s a Coffee Creamer?
- Different Types of Coffee Creamer
- What Factors Impact the Creamer Shelf Life?
- How to Extend Creamer Shelf Life
Coffee lovers can enjoy their beverage of choice in so many ways. Some prefer it black while others love their lattes and mochas. Some even like it with a squirt, dollop, or sprinkle of a little something-something — whether it’s coffee syrup, ground spice, or even booze.
But one favorite add-on is the creamer — a popular crowd-pleaser that’s intended to be a milk substitute. It’s a staple in households all around the world. Unfortunately, many people keep it way past the time they should throw it out.
So until when should you keep your creamer? How long do creamers last anyway?
This guide will highlight how long coffee creamer lasts as well as tips to extend its shelf life. We’ll also cover tips on how to tell when coffee creamer goes bad.
What’s a Coffee Creamer?
Coffee creamer is something people like to add to coffee as a milk substitute that mimics the creamy mouthfeel of milk or actual cream. It can come in powder and liquid form, in dairy and non-dairy formulations, plus other variants such as diet, sugar-free, and non-fat.
The dairy-based creamers usually contain 18 to 12 percent milkfat, but the range varies in some countries. For instance, creamers in Europe often have a higher milk fat percentage.
The non-dairy creamers come from different products, and most contain vegetable oil to replicate the creaminess of milk fat. Others contain milk protein but lack lactose. The vegan-friendly options use coconut milk or almond as substitutes. If you have nut allergies, be sure to check the ingredients of such creamers.
Added flavorings include the more popular mocha and hazelnut, but there are also seasonal-themed ones to give your coffee the festive feel (ever tried eggnog flavor?).
Anyways, let’s break it down to the basic types of creamers.
Different Types of Coffee Creamer
There are four main types of coffee creamer. Understanding these types will make it easier to know how long it can last.
Of course, you can just go old school and just use cream or milk with its many options, from full-fat to skim.
But some manufacturers tinker with this and make creamers out of dehydrated cream, or separate certain components from milk, such as casein, to use as base ingredients for their coffee creamer product.
Dairy-based creamers can come in powder or liquid form.
Non-Dairy Liquid Creamer
This type comes in quart size and pint packages. They also contain different flavors to cover for the lack of milk. It comes in so many options like hazelnut, coconut, vanilla, and almond. This gives you a lot of options to choose from.
Powdered Coffee Creamer
This product has both non-dairy and dairy forms. They are preferable in some cases because they stay fresh for an extended period, much longer than liquid creamers or milk. To extend their shelf life, place them at room temperature. The farther they are from moisture, the better.
Liquid in Mini-Sealed Cup
This type is ideal for people who need to use only a little at a time. There’s enough for one serving in a single sealed mini-cup.
These small packs are also ideal for traveling and restaurant service. Since they are already packed in tiny amounts, you may not need to worry about keeping the leftovers or refrigerating them.
What Factors Impact the Creamer Shelf Life?
To know how long creamer keeps, you need to understand the factors that impact the shelf life of the products. They include.
Exposure to Air/Moisture
Just like coffee, the shelf life of your powdered or liquid creamer can be shortened by exposure to the outside environment and moisture. This is why they should be kept in a cool, dry place away from extreme temperatures
Packaging or Expiration Date
The manufacturers of creamers add an expiration label on the top. This date will also determine how long it can last and when it shouldn’t be used anymore.
Another factor that influences shelf life is the method of storage. Storing it in a cool and dry place without extreme temperature will keep it fresh if it is powdered. However, this is not the case for the liquid product. It is better to refrigerate the liquid creamer to increase its shelf life.
How Long Does Creamer Last?
A lot of factors determine creamer shelf life. For instance, concentrated creamer lasts longer because it has a thickened density. Despite the thickness, powdered creamer outlasts the liquid and concentrated forms. This is because it is hardly affected by the environment.
To answer the question, we need to cover the different kinds of creamers.
Liquid dairy creamers are often refrigerated when they are sold. These types can last for only a few days after you open them. If you don’t open it, it can last as long as the expiry date on the label. If you do open it, be sure to follow the recommended use-by date on the label.
Some coffee creamers are not refrigerated. Such products contain best before dates. However, this type lasts longer when it is unopened. The reason is that unrefrigerated creamers contain lots of preservatives. So they can last for as long as possible.
The little dairy creamer cups also have an expiry date on the label. Without opening them, they last for around one year. When they are opened, you have to use them immediately. You may be able to refrigerate whatever remains when you open it, but be sure to use it within a few days or it will expire.
As for the powdered creamers, they’ll last for a long time after they are opened. But they may begin to lose taste, or absorb moisture in the air and solidify into a hard sticky lump. It is better to use the expiry date on the powdered creamers. Some may still be useful a few months after expiry, but it is not recommended to use them. If you notice any sign of spoiling or mold, throw it away immediately.
If you have stocked a pack of creamer for more than three weeks and you’re not sure about the expiry date, throw it away.
For more clarity, here is a summary of how long creamers last according to their type:
- Mini coffee creamer cups – one month if unopened, use-by date if opened.
- Liquid dairy creamer – one week if unopened, use-by date if opened.
- Non-dairy creamer – two weeks if unopened and use-by date if opened.
- Powdered creamer – three months or more if unopened, use-by date if opened.
Note that these numbers are merely averages. So many other factors can determine how long it will last such as storage. It would be best if you used your initiative in most cases. If it smells bad or looks weird in any way, throw it away.
How to Know if Creamer is Bad?
There are a few ways to determine if coffee creamer is bad or going bad. Always be on the lookout for chunkiness or smells. Be sure to check the expiry date before using any. If it has expired for more than six months, don’t use it. You can also taste it to check if it has gone bad. Brew a cup of coffee and add the creamer to check if it tastes fine. However, this is not recommended because if it is bad, it could cause a stomach upset.
Check for signs of texture changes or mold. Give the cream a whiff and try to perceive any strange odors. Molds are more common in powdered creamers. However, you can see them easily at the edges of the container. They appear slightly off-colored. Also, look out for texture and color changes. If you notice that anything is slightly off, dispose of the creamer.
Sour taste is another way to check if your creamer is bad. In most cases, bad creamer will change the flavor and become sour. If the texture is altered, you should also be wary. When it stops being smooth and becomes uneven and chunky, it is time to throw it away.
The chunky appearance is usually one of the first signs that it is going bad. As time passes, it will get worse, and you will begin to perceive a foul odor. The smell is hard to miss, and the clumpy creams make it even more difficult to miss.
Can Expired Creamer Make You Sick?
Some creamers contain lactose. When they go bad, the lactose becomes sour. The bacteria responsible for this sour taste begin to multiply. It then encourages more bacteria growth in much larger quantities. This can pose a serious health risk to you if you drink it. In some cases, it could cause more severe health problems like vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and bloating in the stomach.
How to Extend Creamer Shelf Life
There are a few ways to extend the shelf life of your creamer. However, note that they cannot outlast their expiry dates. Whatever you do, be prepared to throw it out when it expires. Here are some tips to extend your creamer shelf life.
Refrigerate When Needed
Liquid creamers that aren’t dairy-based need to be kept in a cold place such as a refrigerator. Placing it in any part of the fridge is not enough. The fridge door is also not a good place to store it because it isn’t cold enough. That part of the fridge is always opened so it may be difficult for it to keep your liquid creamer fresh enough.
So, always store your creamer inside the refrigerator’s main body. Storing it with the original package will also help maintain the freshness in the fridge. Also, check out our guide on freezing coffee creamer.
Borrow Some Tips From the Supermarket
Most supermarkets store their creamers in the packet or bottle and keep it in the fridge always if it needs to be refrigerated. Learn a thing or two from their storage methods. If you need to keep it fresh, then make sure you refrigerate it. If it is powdered, place it in the pantry without extreme temperatures. Also, please read the instructions on the creamer package to be sure about how to store it.
Airtight Containers May Do the Trick
Just like powdered milk, powdered creamer needs to be stored in airtight containers. If you got a powdered creamer, you need to ensure that the package is not stored close to moisture or air. It may be safe and fresh in a well ventilated pantry. You can also store it in your kitchen, but it should be far away from the stove. Storing it properly could prevent contaminants and moisture from seeping into the pack. It will help keep it fresh for as long as possible.
Throw It Away When Necessary
There’s little you can do to salvage expired creamer. If the pack has been open for some time or is already expired, you should throw it away. Using such a product in your coffee could expose you to potential health risks. It may also cause food poisoning. Also, you won’t get the taste you want out of your coffee because it would be stale or moldy.
Creamer gives your coffee a unique taste. You can enjoy a special flavor during holidays to keep you in the spirit. But creamer can go bad in certain circumstances. If you open most creamers, you can only get a few days to use them if they are properly refrigerated. If you have powdered creamer, it may last longer, but you still need to be careful while storing this product.
Creamers should be kept in a cool, dry place without extreme temperatures or moisture. Exposure to any of these elements could make them go bad. If creamer goes bad, it can make you sick from food poisoning. It is a lot safer to throw it out when it expires. If you notice any chunkiness or mold on the creamer, you should probably throw it out too.
If you’re also curious, find out how long ground coffee lasts.