Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?

You’ve bought a huge bag of chia seeds to up your nutrition game. You add it to smoothies or make chia pudding, but each of them calls only for a few teaspoons.

That means going through an entire package takes ages. And at some point, you start to wonder: do chia seeds go bad?

Or you’re a chia veteran and buy a few bags at a time. Unfortunately, life got busy for the last couple of months and you hardly ever added chia seeds to your meals. Now you start thinking about how long the seeds last, and if they require any special treatment to last even longer.

If you want to learn about storage, shelf life, or going bad of chia seeds, this article is for you. And in case you were wondering, we also touch upon chia flour (or powdered chia seeds). Let’s dive in.

Bunch of chia seeds
Image used under Creative Commons from Stacy Spensley

How to Store Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds don’t require much in terms of storage. You can store them in the pantry or in a cabinet in the kitchen, whichever works best for you. Just make sure the bag sits in a dry place away from sunlight and sources of heat.

Tip

If you don’t have a preference, consider going with the kitchen. This way the seeds are easily available when you’re making smoothies, so there’s a bigger chance you’ll actually eat them regularly.

In most cases, chia seeds come in a bag that’s easily resealable. If that’s the case for your seeds, you can continue using the original packaging after opening it.

If you can’t seal the bag, consider pouring the seeds into an airtight container or a freezer bag. Make sure you always close the bag or container after every use. A tight seal keeps any moisture at bay.

Chia pudding with raspberries
(credit: Milada Vigerova)

When it comes to chia flour, or powdered chia seeds (often sold along with flax seed powder), the rules are basically the same. That means you should always keep the powder sealed tightly, and in a dry place with a stable temperature. If the bag the flour came in cannot be resealed, transfer the product to an airtight container or freezer bag.

When it comes to homemade chia pudding, and other chia treats, always keep them in the fridge.

Chia seeds
Image used under Creative Commons from Zeyus Media

How Long Do Chia Seeds Last

Chia seeds, thanks to a high amount of antioxidants, last longer than most other seeds, like sesame seeds. That means they can easily last several years if stored properly. While there’s usually a best-by date on the label, it’s not like the seeds will go bad a week or a month past that date.

When it comes to powdered chia seeds (or chia meal), the situation is quite similar. If you store the powder properly, it can last months past the best-by date on the label.

When it comes to chia gel or pudding, it should retain quality for 5 to 7 days. Please note, however, that there are usually many more ingredients in the pudding beside the seeds and water or milk. And those ingredients might degrade in quality or go bad earlier.

PantryFridge
Chia seedsBest-by + 2 years
Chia flourBest by + 1 year
Chia pudding5 – 7 days

Please note that the periods for chia seeds and chia flour are estimates for the best quality.

Chia pudding with blueberries and kiwi
(credit: Brenda Godinez)

How to Tell If Chia Seeds Are Bad?

If water gets to the package of chia seeds or flour, there will be mold within a few days. And as you know, if there’s mold, you should throw the seeds out. Also, please don’t try to scoop the moldy part and use the rest. Just cut your losses and throw it out altogether.

Since chia seeds have oil in them, technically they can go rancid. If they have a rancid or off aroma, instead of the usual mild nutty one, discard them. Same thing if they start clumping together.

When it comes to taste, they have little to no discernible one. That means if you notice that the seeds developed a bitter taste, they’re rancid, and it’s time for them to go.

Please note, however, that rancid chia seeds probably won’t make you sick. The worst thing that’s likely to happen is that the nutritional content of the seeds won’t be as good, and the flavor won’t quite hit the spot.