Does Pasta Go Bad?

Does pasta go bad? Pasta is a widely used specialty of traditional Italian cuisine. In most cases it’s made of flour mixed with water or eggs. Most people buy dried pasta, but it’s also possible to buy fresh pasta or make one yourself (you need a pasta maker, probably a drying rack and a recipe). When it comes to the question raised in the topic, the answer is affirmative. Pasta does go bad, irrespectively if it’s fresh or dried pasta. There are, however, huge differences between those two kinds of pasta when it comes to storage, shelf life, etc. Let’s start off by discussing how to properly store noodles.

How To Store Pasta

Because most of us buy dried noodles, let’s start with them. As long as the package is closed, you can freely store it in the pantry or in a cupboard in the kitchen in its original packaging. Once the package is opened, you need to decide if you’d like to store it for an extended period of time, or not. If you know you’ll use the noodles within 2 or 3 weeks, in most cases you can leave it in its original container. If you’d like to store it for the long-term, it’s good to transfer the pasta into an airtight container. Of course the place where dried pasta is stored should be dry. If moisture reaches dried noodles, they’ll get moldy within a few days.

When it comes to fresh pasta, it needs to be stored in the fridge, or (if you’d like to extend its shelf life) in the freezer. Once you’ll open the package (if you’ve got a store-bought fresh pasta) transfer the unused pasta into an airtight container. Same thing goes with self-made pasta (if you’d like to make some pasta yourself, check out some recipes for pasta on the Internet).


(credit:Dottie Mae )


Shelf Life Of Pasta

Of course all packages of pasta have a “use-by” or “sell-by” dates. That’s just a rough estimate of product’s shelf life. You need to check whether your noodles are still fine, or they’re spoiled yourself.

The shelf life of dried pasta is pretty long. As long as it’s stored properly (doesn’t matter if it’s still unopened, or not) if should be fine for a couple of years. It’s pretty safe to assume that pasta will be fine for at least 2, maybe 3 years from the production date. Again, you don’t need to put it into the freezer or the fridge, if it’s in a cool, dry area in an airtight container or bag, it should be fine for a long time.
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Shelf life of fresh pasta is pretty short. The date on the package is, in most cases, a pretty good estimate of its real shelf life. As long as the package is unopened fresh noodles should be fine for a week, maybe a few days longer. Once the package is opened, it’s best to use its contents within 2-4 days. If you make your own pasta, it should be fine for just a few days. That’s because probably all recipes for pasta you can find don’t require to use any preservatives. To extend the shelf life of fresh pasta you might freeze it and keep it in the freezer for a month, maybe two. If you’ll keep it in there for a longer period of time, it won’t spoil, but it won’t taste as good as when it’s fresh.

How To Tell If Pasta Is Bad

When it comes to fresh pasta, it should be pretty obvious if it’s spoiled or not. When you can see some noticeable discolorations or signs of mold, in most cases the noodles are gone bad. If noodles develop an off odor, or they just smell strange, you should discard them as well. If none of the mentioned signs appear, your fresh pasta should be fine.

Dried pasta, in most cases, won’t go bad in a way that it gets moldy or something. Not unless some moisture or other substances will reach it. The biggest enemies of noodles are little bugs. Because of that, when you store dried noodles for an extended period of time, it’s good to thoroughly check the contents of the container before using the noodles. If you can find there any little bugs, you should throw out the pasta. If there aren’t any bags and other visual signs of spoilage, the pasta is safe to eat. There’s one more thing you need to know – dried pasta loses its taste in time. Because of that, after a few years of storage, pasta’s taste might be not as good as you’d like it to be. If you store pasta for a couple of years, it’s a great idea to cook some of it to get to know how does it taste. You don’t want to discard a great spaghetti because of unpalatable noodles.

As you can see, both fresh and dried pasta do go bad. Dried pasta has a long shelf life and if you store it well, it’ll be fine for a couple of years.