What Is The Shelf Life Of Half-And-Half?

Unless you're someone who drinks their coffee black — or someone who hits up the Starbucks drive-thru every morning — you likely have a carton of half-and-half in your refrigerator at all times, just waiting to be poured into your daily cup of joe. Half-and-half, as the name suggests, is a mixture of half milk and half heavy cream. While it's most commonly used as an add-in for coffee, it's also found in a lot of recipes, like fettuccine Alfredo, bread pudding, and even scrambled eggs (Taste of Home says a splash of half-and-half makes your eggs extra creamy).

When buying and storing half-and-half, there are a few things to keep in mind, from what percentage of milk you prefer to the flavor or fat content. Once you've selected your carton and it's safely secured in your fridge, how long will it last? Here's the real shelf life of half-and-half — and how to know when it has gone bad.

Half-and-half is made to last a long time

You're likely aware that milk goes bad fast after opening, in about two to three days past the printed date (via Healthline). Because half-and-half is 50 percent milk, you'd expect it to have a similarly short shelf life. But surprisingly, half-and-half lasts a lot longer than your average gallon of milk. According to Eat By Date, half-and-half is still safe to drink seven to 10 days past the sell-by date. And that's just for the cartons you buy from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. If you have those tiny individual half-and-half cups (like what you'd find at a diner), they can last up to six months! Mental Floss explains this is because the half-and-half has essentially been "canned," which removes bacteria.

Not sure if your half-and-half is still good? Eat By Date says some of the most common signs of spoiled cream include curdled, lumpy liquid and a sour odor.