Does Coconut Water Expire or Go Bad?

by Charlie
Coconut Water in a glass

What a fantastic drink coconut water is. A true wonder from nature’s elegant swaying palm trees on beautiful sandy shores, it has even been proven that if you were dying of dehydration on a desert island, you could actually inject pure coconut water into a vein! 

This is because it is almost identical to saline and as long as it is drawn directly from the heart of the coconut, it will work miracles. Good luck with finding a syringe though!

Although I have never had to resort to the above method, I do love to drink coconut water after an intense exercise session, especially a long run like a marathon, as it contains the right balance of all the essential electrolytes our bodies require for rehydration and recovery. 

It has great levels of potassium and magnesium plus, it tastes great too as long as it hasn’t been messed around with too much – like a ton of sugar added! I always check the label carefully as some brands like Vita Coco, add fructose and it is way too sweet for my taste.

Does coconut water expire? Yes, coconut water does expire. It could also give you an upset stomach if you drink it past its use-by date. All containers of coconut water will display a use-by date, but obviously, a fresh coconut will not give you this information.

We provide you with a few helpful hints to aid you in detecting if your coconut water has expired.

How Long Does Unopened Coconut Water Last?

This will depend on the type of coconut water you buy, but they will all have a use-by date unless you are using a whole coconut. Some coconut waters are pasteurized, some are full of added sugars, and some come laden with preservatives. 

Or, of course, there is the good old humble whole coconut although these vary greatly in how long they are good to consume. This is because of differing weather and other conditions like if they have been exposed to seawater, and of course, if they have been sitting for a while on the ground before being picked up.

This “raw” type of coconut water can quite often have a slightly pink hue as once the water is exposed to light, it can start to change color. Water from a whole fresh coconut will eventually start to rot inside. You can always tell if this is the case as it loses its wonderfully fresh, slightly sweet flavor, and becomes rather tasteless and sour.

Any packaged container of coconut water will have a use-by date. It’s always best to observe this date as different brands and types will have longer or shorter ones. For example, a Tetra Pak carton of Vita Coco has a one-year expiry from the date of production. A tin of coconut water will last longer.

How Long Will Opened Coconut Water Last?

Once any container of coconut water has been opened, it will last for a maximum of 3 days provided it has been stored correctly. The super-fresh, unadulterated “raw” stuff will spoil quicker than the pasteurized and sweetened versions with preservatives. So if you are buying this type of coconut water, you should drink it within 48 hours of opening.

How to Store Coconut Water

Some coconut waters can be stored in the pantry, as long as they are the pasteurized types that contain preservatives, and most importantly, are unopened. Others, like the unpasteurized pink stuff, need to be kept refrigerated at all times to avoid them spoiling.

No matter what type of coconut water you have, make sure you keep it away from bright light and heat sources to keep it at its best and to stop it from going prematurely bad.

How to Know if My Coconut Water is Bad?

It can be really difficult to tell if a whole coconut is bad or not. In their green husks, they all look pretty much the same. But when selecting a whole coconut, always look for any splits, black or soft spots on the green outer casing, and if you discover any don’t waste your time and energy opening it as your efforts will most likely be rewarded with something sour-smelling and undrinkable.

Here are several signs to look out for in your coconut water to see if it has gone bad. These include:

  • Bad smell
  • Sour taste
  • Stale taste
  • Tastes fizzy

As with a lot of things, it’s always a good idea to use your natural senses. Smell and taste are the best ones for the job when it comes to coconut water, as even if it tastes stale or sour, it can still look fine. So give your nose a clear and then take a good sniff and have a taste.

If you detect any of the above, discard your coconut water otherwise you may wish you had never drunk it!

Will Drinking Bad Coconut Water Make Me Sick?

Drinking expired or bad coconut water can make you sick. Although it will not make you seriously ill, it can absolutely make you feel very nauseous – trust me, it happened to me! Although, I had left it in the fridge for 3 weeks after opening it! I very nearly threw up, but it passed after a while.

It can also act as a laxative and you may find yourself rushing for the toilet at the most inopportune times with a nasty bout of diarrhea. 

Can You Freeze Coconut Water?

OK, so if you can’t consume all of your coconut water before it expires, you can freeze it but it won’t taste so good once it has thawed. And folks, please don’t even think about freezing a tin of the stuff as it will expand and likely explode in your freezer. Always transfer the water from a tin into a freezable container first.

When you are ready to drink it, you can then enjoy it as a wonderfully refreshing icy drink but remember, it won’t taste quite as good as it should!

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