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How Long Can Yogurt Sit Out: 80% People Don’t Know

Who doesn’t love eating yogurt?

Studies have shown that people who eat more dairy products as a whole, can slim down faster than those with cheese or milk products on hand! Yogurt has been long touted as a superfood with healthy bacteria, with its appealing taste and nutrient-enriched content.

But it is highly perishable too! Improper yogurt storage may spoil it and makes it unfit to eat. A yogurt that is sitting out long may cause for food poisoning and other digestive issues.

Have you ever wondered how long yogurt is good?

The healthy bacteria may soon turn dormant and dead bacteria start turning into molds when the yogurt is not stored at the requisite temperature. From the store refrigerator to your home refrigeration, there is always a considerable time when the yogurt sits out.

Hence the main question arises, how long does yogurt sit out?

 Yogurt is a highly perishable product and its expiration date is not only the decisive factor in its shelf life. A yogurt sitting out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours may go bad. However, this time duration may vary depending on the other environmental conditions outside.

While most yogurts can last up to 14 days when stored properly, there are certain factors that affect their shelf life. These include temperature, humidity, and storing conditions.

Temperature affects the growth rate of bacteria, so refrigerated yogurt lasts longer than room temperature yogurt. If you keep your yogurt in the refrigerator, it should remain fresh for up to 14 days. But if you leave an opened container in your fridge, it is likely to spoil much earlier.

Hence, Humidity also plays a role in extending the shelf life of yogurt. Moisture levels in the air cause the growth of mold spores, which can contaminate the product. To prevent this from happening, store your yogurt in a sealed container.

So How Exactly Can Yogurt Sit Out Before It Spoils?

As the benchmark of 2 hours is applicable for most of the situations, the only exception is if you are living in the colder region, the yogurt sitting out of refrigeration may last long, up to 3-4 hours.

If the temperature outside is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you should discard it if it is sitting outside the refrigerator for more than 1 hour.

Do you know, how long does Greek Yogurt lasts?

Is Yogurt Still Good If Left Out for 3 Hours?

According to USDA, the 2-hour rule is applied to foods that require refrigeration. Hence, if the yogurt is lying at room temperature for 3 hours, you should consider discarding it.

How Long Can Yogurt Sit in Lunchbox?

You should arrange some cold insulation sources such as gel packs or insulated bags to maintain the temperature of your perishable food. In no case, yogurt or even your cold-cut sandwich lasts more than two hours.

Is it OK if Yogurt Sits Out Overnight?

No! The yogurt must have gone bad and may cause you food-borne illness as stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Your senses can tell you aptly that the foul smell coming from your yogurt is an indicator that it has turned spoiled.

How To Store Yogurt Properly To Increase Its Shelf Life?

Storing yogurt is the key to enhancing its shelf life. If you refrigerate the yogurt properly, it is even safe to eat past its expiration. Yes! under proper refrigeration conditions, you can consume yogurt safely past its expiration up to 1 week.

As per USDA recommendation, the refrigeration temperature should be below 40℉. it can safely last up to 14 days. On freezing the yogurt, it can last up to 6 months. But once you thaw, the texture of the yogurt will alter separating the cuddle from whey.

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What happens if you eat stale yogurt?

In thick yogurt, the bad bacteria outnumber the good bacteria and cause food borne illness. Especially from the added ingredients, harmful bacteria start coming into the spoiled yogurt and produce molds and other slow-growing microorganisms. Stomach cramps, diarrhea, food poisoning and vomiting are some of the severe food borne illness one may encounter by eating stale yogurt. However, homemade yogurt is free from added ingredients and is less likely to turn stale when yogurt sit out for more than two hours.

A Word of Caution

If you are packing yogurt for lunch, make sure to add an ice pack or use an insulated bag or container to keep it safe for more than two hours of consumption. At home, once yogurt sitting out of the fridge longer than two hours, it may turn sour or even spoiled. Always restore the opened yogurt in fridge abiding by two hour rule to enhance its shelf life. Unsealed yogurt is safe for consumption even after its expiration date within two weeks. But, if you notice any symptoms like foul/sour smell or inconsistency with it, discard it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when the yogurt is left at room temperature?

A store-bought refrigerated yogurt can be kept at room temperature for two hours safely, provided the room temperature should be above 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above. If the temperature is below this, the yogurt should be consumed within one hour. Keeping the yogurt unrefrigerated for longer will lead to the growth of bacteria and turn it more acidic.

How do you know if yogurt has gone bad?

The way it smells, appearance, and consistency are the best indicators of whether the yogurt has gone bad and prevalence of bad bacteria. The curdling texture and stale smell, which is similar to spoiled milk, warns that the yogurt has turned bad. If you notice a watery liquid at the top with the cuddling consistency at the bottom, it indicates that the yogurt has become bad.

Does refrigerated yogurt go bad?

Refrigerated yogurt can be safe to consume about two weeks of its expiry date. But you should notice the smell and appearance of such yogurt first. If both of the factors are normal, it indicates that the yogurt is safe to consume.

How long does it take for yogurt to set?

Depending on the cultures you use for yogurt, the time for yogurt to set varies from 4 hours to overnight. Use consistent lukewarm milk, which promotes the growth of good bacteria. Incubating yogurt longer leads to tangier and thicker consistency. If you want to enjoy a creamy and delicious yogurt, then how long can yogurt sit for ? The simple answer is – 7-9 hours.

Why is my yogurt so sour?

You derive yogurt when the milk is fermented with good bacteria. Hence when the bacteria outgrow in pasteurized milk, it turns milk into yogurt. The presence of bacteria in yogurt produces acid and also makes it sour. You can avoid sourness by using severe sweetened milk. However, eating sour yogurt will never lead to food poisoning.

Is Greek yogurt supposed to taste sour?

Yes, Greek yogurt is sour because it is made from highly concentrated milk, which removes milk’s lactose (natural sweetness) to an extent. The protein content in Greek yogurt is high during the staining process.

Can I eat yogurt that expired two months ago?

Instead of relying on the expiration date, look out for the signs of bad yogurt such as how long does yogurt sit out, to consider if it is good or bad. As yogurt is the result of the formation of milk with good bacteria, eating yogurt beyond its expiry is not troublesome. However, if you find that the milk is cuddling at the bottom or smelling foul, you should avoid it.

Can you get listeria from spoiled yogurt?

Bacteria Listeria is prevalent in foodborne illnesses. Especially the expired foods get infected with this bacteria, leading to diarrhea, vomiting, etc. A spoiled yogurt which is smelling foul or has molds over it can lead to foodborne illness.

Can Yogurt cause stomach upset?

Probiotic food like yogurt is useful in regulating bowel movements and aiding digestion. If you are suffering from diarrhea, a Diary product like Yogurt can also make your symptoms worse. As dairy yogurt is acidic, it can lead to bloating, stomach pain, or gas. Unless you are not lactose intolerant, yogurt may not upset your stomach.

What are the Storage & Handling Tips To Keep The Yogurt Fresh For Long?

 To ensure a lasting life upto 14 days, ensure to keep the yogurt refrigerated below 40 degree F. If you are planning to use it for up to 2 months, we recommed you to freeze it. 

  • If you are going to use only a portion of yogurt from its cartoon, take it out in a seperate dish and keep back the cartoon in fridge by covering it properly. 
  • If you have kept the yogurt out of refrigerator for less than 2 hours, you can keep it back for refrigeration to enjoy later. However, the overall shelf life reduces and you should consider eating it in a day to two.
  • Always use pasterurized milk while making yogurt at home to have a longer shelf life. 
  • Yogurt with added fruits and sweetners are more prone to spolage when left out.

Yogurt Expert Sonia Uvezian was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. A renowned expert in Middle Eastern and Caucasian cooking and winner of a James Beard Award, she is the author of six other highly acclaimed cookbooks, such as Recipes and Remembrances From An Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, Cooking from the Caucasus along with The Book of Yogurt.