You have delicious yogurt, but unfortunately, you left it sitting out. How long does yogurt last unrefrigerated? Is it still safe to eat, or will you get sick? It’s important to make sure you observe proper food safety. Otherwise, you could get salmonella. Although people sometimes get lucky and eat food that’s been out too long with no trouble, it’s always safer to throw it away. Being sick is never fun, and it’s bad for your body. Luckily, I’ve been making yogurt for years, and I know exactly how long it can be left unrefrigerated safely. I’ll share everything I know about yogurt so you can be sure you don’t eat food that’s gone off.
How long does yogurt last unrefrigerated? Unrefrigerated yogurt lasts two hours. After it’s been sitting out for longer than that, you should always toss it. Unfortunately, yogurt is a perfect breeding ground for dangerous bacteria, and it’s easy to get sick from eating your sweet snack once it’s been sitting there too long. Toss the old yogurt and make a fresh batch instead.
How Do You Know If Yogurt Has Gone Bad
Knowing how long your yogurt will last unrefrigerated is one thing, but being able to tell it’s gone off is something else entirely. Sadly, you won’t always notice right away. A dog could probably pinpoint the exact time, but they have incredibly powerful noses and stronger stomachs than we humans.
There are some obvious signs to watch out for when you’re looking at yogurt. However, don’t assume the yogurt is ‘okay’ if it sat out. Always throw it away after two hours.
If you open a yogurt and it smells funny, like bad milk, that yogurt is no good. Since it is a dairy product, the sour, nasty milk smell is one way to tell right away that something is wrong. Never eat food that smells bad to you.
Additionally, you may notice chunkiness. When dairy spoils, it can curdle. However, this is not a perfect system, especially when your yogurt has fruit chunks to change the texture.
Finally, if you notice mold or discoloration that yogurt is no good. Moreover, it’s wise to keep an eye out for damaged or open packages as this can let in air, heat, and bacteria. Particularly with storebought yogurts, if it’s got any signs of tampering, toss that treat. You can easily whip up some yogurt at home to avoid grocery store mishaps.
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How Long Can Homemade Yogurt Sit Out
Though there are some differences between homemade yogurt and store-bought yogurt, the time limit for unrefrigerated yogurt is the same. You can leave self-made yogurt out for about two hours before it needs refrigeration. Anything beyond that, and you risk a lot of bacterial growth, you could get sick from eating it.
Notably, the two-hour rule doesn’t always apply. If you live somewhere warm, and the air conditioner is out, you have less time than you think. When temps go above ninety, you have an hour to put your homemade yogurt away at most.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Yogurt
Whether it sat out unrefrigerated or it’s past the expiration date, yogurt doesn’t last forever. When good yogurt goes bad, there are several problems that you may experience. Naturally, it’s best to avoid eating it at all. However, if you think you’ve eaten bad yogurt, watch out for the signs and symptoms below.
If your yogurt only got old, then the milk may have gone off. This could leave a bad taste in your mouth quite literally. Besides, old dairy will almost certainly upset your stomach. You may feel queasy or have digestive upset.
Luckily, this type of bad yogurt shouldn’t trouble you for too long. Once it passes through your body and you eliminate it, you’ll begin to feel better. Still, it’s smarter not to take that risk.
Food poisoning is a different story. When your yogurt develops bacteria, the sick feeling doesn’t always go away so quickly. It can take up to twenty-four hours for you to notice something is wrong when you get bad bacteria in your body.
Sadly, that means you can eat rotten yogurt and not even know it until days later. Some issues can show up within as little as thirty minutes, but others need to gestate inside your body before you begin to notice they’re present. Below is a brief list of signs that you have food poisoning.
Food Poisoning Symptoms
Although sickness affects each person differently, the CDC says the following are the most common side effects. If you experience more severe issues, it’s best to see your doctor right away.
- Stomach Cramps
- Upset Stomach
Make sure to stay hydrated if you have vomiting or diarrhea since these symptoms can result in a rapid loss of water. Take it easy, and avoid eating anything greasy or rich. If you’re hungry, stick to simple things like plain rice, toast, and applesauce.
Alternately, when you have severe symptoms like blood in your stool, signs of dehydration, ongoing vomiting, or diarrhea for more than three days, seek medical assistance. Likewise, a fever over 102°F, measured in your mouth is also a sign that you need a doctor.
Food poisoning can contribute to long-term health problems as well. Kidney failure, nerve and brain damage, and even arthritis can result from a bad bout of food poisoning.
How Long Can Yogurt Last In The Fridge
Hopefully, you put your yogurt away in the fridge. Regardless of how long yogurt can last outside a fridge, keeping it cold will certainly extend its shelf-life. Although open yogurt lasts about half as long as sealed containers, you can store it for quite a while.
Once you open your yogurt and assuming you didn’t let it sit out too long, it can go back to the fridge. It’s a good idea to put a tight lid on the container to keep it fresh for longer and avoid your creamy treat picking up outside odors and flavors. Typically opened refrigerated yogurt lasts five to seven days.
Sealed, unopened yogurt is a different story. The average shelf life of pre-made yogurt is not the sell-by date. Most of the time, your packaged yogurt is good for up to two weeks past the sell-by mark. However, it would be best if you always gave it a sniff. Toss it if you smell or see any signs that the yogurt has gone off.
Homemade yogurt is a little different. If you are making your own fresh yogurt, it’s best to store it for a maximum of two weeks. The preservatives used by large-scale factories are notably absent in home yogurts, hence the different shelf life.
Furthermore, if you are reculturing using your existing yogurt, then there’s an expiration date for that as well. You should re-culture within seven days for the best results.
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Can You Eat Yogurt That Has Been Left In The Car Overnight
Refrigerating yogurt is necessary, even though you can leave it out for an hour or two. Still, people often ask whether they can eat yogurt that sat in the car overnight. For common-sense reasons, the answer is no when it’s warm or hot outside.
There is one exception to this rule. If your car was out in cold or freezing temperatures, then your yogurt may have also stayed cold. So long as it was forty-two degrees Fahrenheit or less, then your car may as well have been a refrigerator. The cooling doesn’t need to be inside a fridge so long as your food stayed chilly.
When in doubt, check the weather. You should be able to find last night’s temperatures easily. If it got over forty-two, make a fresh batch instead.
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It’s vital to understand food safety. Not only can you get sick from eating yogurt that has sat out too long, but it can be very deceptive. You won’t necessarily smell anything when yogurt first goes off.
If you open a container and it does smell bad, or you see mold then it’s obvious you shouldn’t eat it However, bacteria can become dangerous long before your senses detect a problem. Remember the two-hour rule, and make a fresh batch instead. You can easily whip up a tasty treat, but being sick from old food takes a lot longer, and it’s less satisfying.
Always toss that yogurt if you’re unsure how long it was out. Your body will thank you when you don’t get food poisoning.