Do Raisins Go Bad?

Raisins can be enjoyed as a snack or used as an ingredient in cooking and baking. But no matter how you use the dried grapes, sooner or later you will find yourself with a big opened package that you don’t plan on finishing anytime soon. That’s when the question “do raisins go bad?” comes up.

Or maybe you wanted to save some money and bought raisins in bulk. And you’re searching for the best way to store them for the long term. You have thought about refrigerating them but aren’t sure if that helps. And since fridge space comes at a premium in many households, you want to know for sure if it makes sense to keep them in there.

If those thoughts and concerns sound familiar, this article is for you. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of raisins. If that’s something you want to learn a bit more about, you’re in the right place.

Golden raisins and flowers
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

How to Store Raisins

Raisins are essentially grapes that are dried to extend their shelf life. The process of drying grapes also enhances the sweetness of the fruit. Since raisins contain little moisture, they are shelf stable.

So when it comes to storing golden or regular raisins, a cool, dry, and dark place is where you want to keep them. They should sit away from moisture to prevent mold growth, and heat and light so they won’t dry out. That makes the pantry the best place to store raisins. If the pantry is not an option, a dark cabinet in the kitchen will do too. Just make sure it’s nowhere near the stove.

Once you open the package, the most important thing is to keep the leftovers sealed tightly. If you plan on using the raisins within a month, I would stick with the plastic wrapping they came in and tried to seal it as tightly as I could. But if the plastic has any additional holes, or you expect to keep the raisins around for a longer period, transfer them to an airtight container or a freezer bag. A leaky packaging will cause the dried fruits to dry out and harden, and you definitely don’t want that. The raisins can stay in the pantry after opening the package.

When it comes to refrigerating raisins, it only makes sense if you live in a hot and humid climate, and don’t have access to a pantry. If that’s the case, the raisins will last much longer in the fridge than at room temperature. In “typical” circumstances raisins retain quality as long in the pantry as they do in the refrigerator. When it comes to refrigerating these dried fruits, make sure you put them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Otherwise, they will dry out quickly.

Raisins in a cup
Image used under Creative Commons from Migle

How Long Do Raisins Last

Raisins, unlike fresh fruit like bananas or pineapples, have a long shelf life. But that doesn’t mean you should store them for years. Even dried fruits are perishable goods and will go bad or degrade in quality at some point.

A bag of raisins usually comes with a best-by date on the label. That date is, obviously, only a rough estimate of how long the raisins will retain quality. So you can easily assume that they should be perfectly fine up to that date and then some. Let’s be real here, dried fruit isn’t a food product known for going bad fast and easily. As long as you take good care of them, they should last a few months past that date in good condition.

Once you open the package, the shelf life of the leftover raisins depends on how you store them. If you seal them tightly and follow the rest of the storage guidelines, they should last for at least 6 months. Of course, if you open the package near the date on the label, don’t expect them to keep quality for that long.

PantryFridge
Raisins (unopened)Best-by + 1 – 3 monthsBest-by + 1 – 3 months
Raisins (opened)6 months6 months

Please note the periods above are estimates and for the best quality.

How to Tell If Raisins Have Gone Bad

As usual, start by looking for any typical signs of spoilage, such as mold or any other organic growth. An off odor (instead of the usual sweetish-tart aroma) or significant changes in color mean the raisins are spoiled and should be discarded too. If the raisins have dried out and hardened, you can still revive them.

If everything about the raisins seems to be perfectly fine, eat one or two and decide what to do with them based on the taste.