Yogurt's best-by date is usually one month after it arrives at the grocery store - but is it safe to eat it beyond that? This is a question many people ask. If you accidentally bought way too much yogurt, we've got all you need to know about freezing to extend its shelf life.
Does Yogurt Go Bad?
Though yogurt has a relatively long shelf life for a dairy product, it will still expire over time. When it's out of the fridge at room temperature, yogurt is only safe to eat for about two hours.
Yogurt lasts quite a while in the fridge because of a few beneficial ingredients and processing methods.
Manufacturers make yogurt through the bacterial fermentation of milk, which creates live, healthy bacterial cultures in the end product. These cultures can help to keep yogurt in good shape a little longer than a carton of milk, for example.
The easiest ways to find out if it's still okay to eat yogurt:
- Visual evaluation. You can use your sense of smell and look for visual cues to determine when yogurt goes bad. While yogurt often has a little clear liquid on the top, it accumulates more as it starts to go bad.
- Changes in texture. If you stir the yogurt and notice a curdled texture close to the container's bottom, your yogurt is going bad.
- Changes in color. Lastly, any sign of mold means your yogurt is no longer safe to consume.
How Long is Yogurt Good For?
Most yogurt products have a sell-by date printed on the container, not an expiration date - a sell-by date shows the time frame in which the seller guarantees its quality. The sell-by date is approximately one month after they make the yogurt.
The yogurt doesn't suddenly expire on this sell-by date, and unopened, refrigerated yogurt is usually still acceptable to eat for another 2 - 3 weeks.
Once you break the seal of your yogurt container, the clock starts ticking down more quickly, as the exposure to air makes the yogurt expire more quickly.
- Frozen yogurt (the kind that comes frozen) lasts in the freezer up to 3 months past its best-by date.
- Drinkable yogurt can last you an extra 10 days.
- Greek yogurt usually stays safe for another 1 - 2 weeks in the fridge.
- Low-fat yogurt has 1-2 weeks of extra shelf life, generally.
- Regular yogurt will stay good for up to 2 - 3 additional weeks.
- Opened yogurt will last approximately 1 week in the fridge before its quality deteriorates.
How to Freeze Yogurt
Frozen yogurt is different from refrigerated yogurt in terms of ingredients.
Today we’re talking about freezing regular, refrigerated yogurt to extend its shelf life.
Can I Freeze Yogurt?
Can an ordinary yogurt be frozen? Yes! Though it might seem like a strange idea, freezing your yogurt is a great way to store yogurt you won't use within the next few weeks.
The frozen yogurt probiotics will go dormant but should be relatively intact when thawed so that you won't lose out on those tremendous probiotic health benefits!
You can make yogurt last another 1 - 2 months by freezing it - so you can stock up at sale time and thaw as needed.
The most popular ways of freezing the yogurt:
- If your yogurt container's seal is still intact, you can pop it directly into the freezer.
- To freeze an opened yogurt container, you'll need to stir it well and transfer it to a sealed, freezer-safe container.
- Putting yogurt in the freezer in small portions for smoothies or baking is easy. You can pour your yogurt into an ice cube tray, freeze, and transfer to a sealable freezer bag to prevent freezer burn.
Freezing Different Types of Yogurt
#1. Freezing Yogurt Cups
Yogurt cups are perfect for freezing as you don't need to portion them beforehand.
#2. Freezing Greek Yogurt
You can freeze Greek yogurt, but you may lose that extra-thick, creamy texture along the way. It's best to use your frozen Greek yogurt for baking rather than consuming it on its own.
#3. Frozen Fruit Yogurt
If you're freezing yogurt that has fruit in it, you'll want to open the container, thoroughly stir the yogurt, then place it in a freezer-safe, sealed container. If you don't mix fruit yogurt first, it won't freeze evenly.
#4. Vegan Yogurt
If you are eating vegan alternatives for yogurt, these can be frozen for up to 1 month using the same methods as above.
How Long Does it Take To Freeze Yogurt?
Small portions of yogurt will take up to 3 hours to freeze, but it will take at least 6 hours and as many as 24 hours to freeze fully an entire quart or more.
What Happens When You Freeze Yogurt?
Although it can be handy to freeze yogurt, we don't recommend freezing yogurt that you're going to eat by the bowl, as it won't thaw to the same taste and texture.
When you put yogurt in the freezer, you'll notice some changes when it thaws:
- The flavour tends to get a little tangier and less sweet;
- The consistency will be more watery than usual, even after mixing;
- And the texture is less smooth and more grainy and gritty.
How to Use Frozen Yogurt
You're free to eat frozen yogurt once it's thawed - if you like the flavor and texture, it's perfectly safe.
If these textural and taste changes aren't appealing to you, save your frozen yogurt to use in smoothies and baking recipes, where the differences won't matter.
How to Thaw Frozen Yogurt
If you're using your frozen yogurt cubes in a smoothie, there's no need to thaw - just toss them in and blend away!
Otherwise, take your yogurt out of the freezer and leave it for 24 hours to thaw in the fridge.
Final Notes: Extending Yogurt's Life
Freezing yogurt can be a handy method to help cut down on your food waste if you're not going to get through it before it goes bad.
While it isn't completely foolproof, and you may not want to eat it plain after it thaws, it's a practical option for use in smoothies, baking, and other sauces.
If you don't want to freeze your yogurt, you can keep it good for as long as possible in the fridge.
Just remember - once you remove the seal, place yogurt back immediately into the fridge after use. Also, keep it on one of the main shelves in the fridge instead of the door shelf, where it may not stay as cold.