Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy the refreshing taste of dairy! From a tall glass of ice-cold milk to the savory flavor of the cheese in your favorite backyard BBQ salad to protein-packed yogurt and fruit smoothies, there are countless ways that dairy can help you beat the heat and keep you nourished. It is important to remember that hot temperatures can cause dairy foods to lose their freshness quickly, so make the most of your dairy foods to enjoy them all summer long!
At the Grocery Store
Make the dairy case your last stop when shopping. Pack dairy foods in an insulated cooler bag for the ride home.
Store dairy foods in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from shopping. Do not leave dairy foods out for more than 2 hours and, in weather above 90 degrees, no more than 1 hour.
Dairy foods should be refrigerated at 35-40 degrees F and stored toward the back to maximize freshness. Avoid storing dairy foods in the refrigerator door to avoid exposure to warm air when the door is opened.
Worried about dairy foods going to waste?
Milk and cheese can be safely frozen for up to 3 months!
Know the Label Lingo
Dairy food packages have information to help you determine freshness. The Sell By date tells you how long stores can keep milk on the shelf. This is NOT an expiration date and, if stored correctly, unopened milk can last 5-7 days past this date.
The Best if Used By/ Use By/ Use Before date means that dairy foods can be enjoyed, by this date, for best taste and quality. Milk may last a few days after this date, while yogurt and cheese can often last longer.
While dates can give a good sense of freshness, spoilage can be best identified by your senses! Milk that tastes or smells funny or changes texture has spoiled and should be thrown out. Mold on yogurt, processed cheeses or semi-soft cheeses should be thrown away, too.
Visit The Dairy Alliance website for more great tips about How to Make the Most of Your Milk.
Your dairy won’t last long if you whip up these delicious dairy recipes:
Dr. Michelle Hesse has been a Registered Dietitian for nearly 9 years and has worked in both academic and non-profit settings with an emphasis on operationalizing nutrition solutions and making nutritious food more accessible to vulnerable populations, including young families and food insecure Virginians. Dr. Hesse is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Professions at James Madison University.