It's tough to go a full day without ingesting milk in some form, whether it's in a milkshake, coffee, oatmeal, cereal, or simply enjoyed plain. But while milk is a staple in many of our diets, it can be tricky to determine whether the carton in your fridge is still fresh or not. To save you the trouble of tasting potentially spoiled milk (yuck!), I've laid out how to tell if milk is bad. But if your milk has gone off, you don't necessarily need to throw it out. At the end of this article, I've shared a few of my favorite things to do with spoiled milk so you don't waste any food. 

How to Tell If Milk Has Gone Bad

cream, milk, chocolate, chocolate sauce, Hershey's
Sam Jesner

There are several other ways to detect spoiled milk besides tasting it. You can always smell it to check for an unpleasant, sour odor. Fresh milk will never have any sort of obnoxious smell. The texture of the milk is enough to gauge whether the milk is fresh or gone bad. If your milk has a thick consistency, lumps, or looks curdled, it's time to toss it. 

#SpoonTip: Fresh milk will always appear a bright white color while ruined milk will have a darker, yellow tint to it.

How Long Milk Stays Fresh

Karan Kapoor

Powdered milk is actually one of the few food items that never spoil. Fresh milk, on the other hand, not so much. It is advisable to consume milk within three days of buying it. However, milk stays fresh for a week before its expiration date, provided it's kept in the refrigerator. The shelf life of milk depends upon factors such as exposure to sunlight and heat, carton date, and the manner in which it's stored. 

Milk is usually sold "by date," which is helpful in determining the time period during which it's safe to consume it. It is also important to note that milk should be stored either in the carton or a container with the lid tightly closed, away from light, preferably in your refrigerator. 

What happens if you drink spoiled milk? You run the risk of developing food poisoning or diarrhea due to the bacteria that have sprouted in the milk gone bad. It's best to spit out milk if it has turned sour because it's not worth putting your health at risk.

What to Do With Spoiled Milk

Karan Kapoor

In India, there's this old saying that roughly translates into "only those who don't know how to make paneer (cottage cheese), cry over ruined milk."  Keeping the philosophical meaning aside, you might have guessed the first thing that pops into my mind when one speaks of ruined milk. 

1. Make Cottage Cheese (Paneer)

Making cottage cheese out of ruined milk is really no hassle, and one of the best ways to utilize the milk. It retains all properties and nutrients of a dairy product and fresh cottage cheese leaves a lingering taste you cannot possibly forget. Here's an easy way to make cottage cheese out of spoiled milk. 

2. Put It On Your Face

Sour milk is a miracle for your dry skin. The lactic acid "facial" helps to make skin smoother and firmer. Sounds like a win-win situation to me on days when you want to pamper yourself.

3. Bake With It

syrup, blueberry, sweet, pancake, pastry, berry, cake, chocolate
Alex Frank

Sour milk is a wonderful ingredient for pancakes, waffles, cakes; baking with sour milk makes the dish fluffier and creamier. Plus, you're not wasting any of the milk, only using it to create tastier goods. Use this recipe to make sour milk pancakes

With these quick tips and tricks for how to tell if milk is bad, you now have an ace up your sleeve. It's important to note that even when food goes bad, there's something that can be done about it other than throwing it in the trash can. Reducing food waste is an essential aspect of being a responsible cook (and human).