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How Long Does Kefir Last? Can It Go Bad?

Kefir is an incredibly healthy dairy product that offers a wide variety of benefits. Many people drink it for its probiotic properties, which help to regulate digestive function and promote a healthy immune system. However, kefir isn’t something that you can keep for too long. So just how long does kefir last?

Can kefir go bad? Due to the presence of bacteria, kefir certainly won’t last forever. An unopened bottle or container of store-bought kefir can last over a week after its sell-by date, but once you open it, it should be consumed within 3-5 days. However, homemade kefir can last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. 

Consuming spoiled kefir is a pretty bad idea, as it could certainly make you sick. Read on to find out everything that you need to know about the shelf life of kefir and how you can tell when you need to throw your kefir away. 

Can Kefir Go Bad?


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Due to the presence of bacterias, kefir can, and eventually will, go bad. Its shelf life depends on a number of factors, such as whether the kefir has been opened or whether it is store-bought or homemade, but it will eventually spoil. 

Kefir is a fermented food, meaning that it contains natural, healthy bacterias. While these bacterias are safe and in fact even healthy to consume, they also eventually cause kefir to spoil. 

Kefir will last a relatively long time, as fermented foods evolve and change over time before they go bad. However, you will want to pay close attention to the smell, taste, and appearance of kefir before consuming it, especially if you aren’t sure how long it has been sitting in your fridge. 

How to Store Kefir?


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Kefir is a fermented dairy product, so it should be stored in the fridge. Storing kefir in the fridge is the best way to ensure that it doesn’t spoil too quickly. It prevents the liquid from continuing to ferment, slowing the growth of bacteria. 

Though kefir can be stored on the counter, this will significantly diminish its shelf life. Homemade kefir stored at room temperature won’t last more than 1 or 2 days, so it’s always best to store it in the refrigerator. 

Always be sure to store your kefir in a tightly sealed container to minimize the amount of air that it comes in contact with it. This will help prevent the excessive growth of bacteria, keeping it from spoiling too quickly. 

Can You Freeze Kefir?

Though it is ideal to store kefir in the fridge, it is also possible to freeze it. You might want to freeze kefir if you know you won’t consume it quickly enough or if you have made or bought too much. Kefir stored in the freezer will last much longer than kefir stored in the fridge, as it will last between 1 and 2 months, possibly even longer. 

However, there are certainly a couple of downsides to freezing kefir. To begin, freezing kefir will alter its consistency and quality. As is the case with other dairy products, freezing and thawing kefir will cause its liquid to separate from its solids, so defrosted kefir will not have the same texture as fresh kefir. 

While this could be acceptable if you plan on cooking or baking with your kefir or incorporating it into a smoothie, the texture may be somewhat unpleasant if consumed on its own. 

Additionally, though there is not yet a consensus on the impact that freezing has on live cultures, it is possible that freezing your kefir will kill off some or all of the beneficial probiotics and bacterias that so many people consume it for. If this is one of your main reasons for including kefir in your diet, you will probably want to hold off on freezing it. 

How Long Does Kefir Last?


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The shelf life of kefir depends on a number of factors. To begin, homemade kefir will last longer than store-bought kefir. Homemade kefir has a shelf life of 2-3 weeks. We are, of course, referring to when it is stored in the fridge. If you leave homemade kefir on the counter, it will only last 1-2 days. 


On the other hand, store-bought kefir will last about 1 week after its sell-by date when unopened and 3-5 days after its sell-by date after opening. Again, we are talking about kefir that has been properly sealed and stored in the fridge. 


Finally, if you choose to store your kefir in the freezer, it will last about 1-2 months or perhaps even longer, depending on whether or not it has been affected by freezer burn. 

How Can You Tell If Kefir Has Gone Bad?

If you follow the guidelines on properly storing your kefir and finish it within the recommended time frame, it should be safe to consume. However, you will want to keep an eye out to see if your kefir has gone bad just in case. 

You can tell if kefir has gone bad by paying attention to a few things. First off, you should smell your kefir before tasting it. If it smells rancid or sour, it has most likely spoiled. It can be difficult to tell whether or not kefir has gone bad by just tasting it, as the flavor varies between batches and kefir has a naturally sour taste. 

However, one of the best ways to tell if your kefir has gone bad is by paying close attention to its appearance. If it has undergone obvious separation (for example a thick layer of liquid on top) or has become chunky and difficult to pour, then it has probably spoiled. 

A surefire sign that kefir has gone bad is if it begins to grow mold on the surface. In this case, the kefir should be discarded immediately. 

Is It OK to Consume Old Kefir?

While consuming kefir that is just a few days past its recommended consumption date likely won’t do you any harm, you want to pay close attention to the state of your kefir to make sure that it doesn’t make you sick. 


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Kefir that tastes a little bit sour is probably no big deal, but you should steer clear of kefir that has any mold growing on it. Depending on how much you end up ingesting, this could make you very sick. 

Related Questions

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How Long Does Normal Yogurt Last?

Two very similar dairy products, yogurt and kefir have common ingredients and production methods. Yogurt, however, has a longer shelf life than kefir, at least when we’re talking about store-bought kefir. Yogurt will last about 2-3 weeks past its printed date in the fridge when unopened and about a week after opening. 

The main difference between yogurt and kefir is that kefir undergoes a longer fermentation process than yogurt, meaning that it is richer in probiotics. Kefir also tends to be thinner and can even be slightly bubbly, and tends to have a more sour taste than yogurt. 

What Exactly Is Kefir?

Kefir is a fermented milk beverage, kind of like a drinkable yogurt, that is made by fermenting milk with kefir grains, which are live cultures that promote the growth of healthy bacterias and probiotics. 

While you can buy kefir at most stores, it is also pretty easy to make at home, as you just need to mix the kefir grains with milk and let ferment for 24 hours. 

What Are the Benefits of Kefir?

Kefir has numerous health benefits thanks to the fact that it is a fermented probiotic beverage. First off, the probiotics present in kefir can help promote a healthy gut, proper digestive functioning, and a strong immune system. 

Kefir is also thought to have various antibacterial properties, which means that it can aid in preventing certain illnesses and infections. 

Plus, thanks to the fact that kefir is a good source of calcium, it can help to support bone health and prevent osteoporosis. Kefir has even been shown to improve allergy and asthma symptoms. 

Finally, thanks to the fact that kefir grains consume much of the milk’s lactose during the fermentation process, kefir is low in lactose and is usually tolerated well by people with lactose intolerance.

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