Dairy Expiration Dates: What Do They Really Mean?
With warmer weather approaching, it’s a good time to talk about keeping your dairy products as fresh as possible for as long as possible. After all, hot days mean even hotter cars, which can lead to not-so-fresh milk and melted ice cream if you leave them unprotected in your trunk for too long. Consider keeping a cooler in your car to transport your dairy products from the store to your house. And be sure to get them into a cold fridge as soon as you get home.
What about the expiration date?
The date printed on the milk jug (or sour cream container or cheese packaging) means something different, depending on the state in which you live. It could be a “sell by” date, indicating the date after which a grocery store should no longer sell a product. It could be a “best by” date, indicating a window of optimum freshness for a consumer. You may also see “guaranteed fresh by” or “use by” dates as well. However, these are only guidelines and should be taken as such.
That being said, there are certain steps you can take to keep your dairy products tasting fresher longer. Exposure to oxygen, light and warm temperatures can all cause food to spoil, so if you want your products to last longer, try the following tips:
8 Tips to Keep Your Dairy Products Fresher Longer
- Put milk and other dairy products in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from the store
- Store milk and other dairy products below 40º F
- Move dairy products to the back of the fridge when possible (this tends to be the coldest part)
- Don’t store your milk in the door of your fridge (even though many refrigerators have doors designed for milk storage, this part of the fridge experiences large temperature variations—it is therefore a good idea to avoid storing milk there)
- Don’t open your milk or other dairy products until you’re ready to use them
- Keep cheeses wrapped tightly in cling film or a freezer bag with the air pushed out
- Butter and hard cheeses can be frozen for up to 8 months
- Soft cheeses should be consumed within a week of purchase
These are just a few tips to keep your dairy products fresh and tasty after you’ve brought them home from the store.
Have more tips?
If you have other tips on keeping your dairy products fresh, please leave them in the comments below!