All too often this “super grain” is left untouched in the pantry for months at a time. That brings the question: does quinoa go bad? Many people wonder whether quinoa will last weeks, months or years. Let’s take a look at a closer look at the shelf life, storage methods and signs of spoilage of this uber-healthy food.
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Shelf Life of Uncooked Quinoa
The lifespan of quinoa is determined by a number of factors. These include whether it has been cooked and how you store it. Like all grains and seeds, quinoa won’t last forever. Seeds are typically marked with a “best by” printed date instead of an expiration date. Don’t assume that you should throw your quinoa out if you see that it has not been consumed by the date marked on the package. In terms of raw quinoa, each variety (red, white, black) lasts between 2 and 3 years beyond the package’s printed date. Your raw quinoa won’t last any longer if you put it in the refrigerator. So leave it in the cupboard in order to free up more space in your refrigerator.
Shelf life of Cooked Quinoa
After being cooked, quinoa lasts a full week in the refrigerator. If you place your cooked quinoa in the freezer, it will still be good to eat 8 to 12 months later. Obviously it won’t go bad in the freezer, but with time it slowly loses its quality. That’s why it’s recommended to consume it within a year of freezing.
How to Tell When Quinoa Goes Bad
It is difficult to know when quinoa has gone bad. It has an extensive shelf life as long as it is kept dry. Oftentimes, quinoa will not become rancid or produce an odor when it is no longer safe to eat. However, when you cook quinoa that has gone bad, it will exhibit a a loss of texture. In this scenario, the quinoa will become hard and even grow mold. Never eat quinoa that has become overly dry or accumulated mold. Quinoa with mold, commonly referred to as “stained quinoa”, has gone rotten and it can negatively impact your health if consumed. Just throw it away.
If you are questioning whether your quinoa has gone bad, open the package up and take a whiff. You might be able to tell whether you quinoa is good or bad when you open the package. If it smells odd, feels excessively dry or contains mold, do not eat it. Throw dry, smelly or moldy quinoa out immediately. Keep in mind that quinoa progressively loses its flavor and integrity with each day that it stays in the refrigerator. Food experts state that each day of storage in the refrigerator decreases the value of grains like quinoa by one half. Each day also doubles quinoa’s food spoilage rate, so eat cooked quinoa as soon as possible.
How to Extend the Life of Quinoa
You can prolong the life of quinoa by keeping it completely dry. Store it in an airtight container in your pantry or another dark and cool place with a consistent temperature. After you cook quinoa, go ahead and place it in an airtight container and immediately put it in the refrigerator. The airtight container will prevent contaminants and moisture from impacting the quinoa. Never let cooked quinoa remain at room temperature for more than a few hours. If you are short on time and can’t scrape your quinoa out of the pan, go ahead and put the entire pan in the refrigerator. Just be sure to place the top on the pan before placing it in the refrigerator.
If you do not plan on eating your uncooked quinoa for an extended period of time, go ahead and place it in the freezer. This will preserve its taste as long as you use an oxygen free container that is designed for freezer use. You can also put your cooked quinoa in the freezer as well. Just be sure to place it in an airtight container. You can thaw out your frozen quinoa by steaming it with some water at a low temperature in a covered pot. Or, place your quinoa in a glass dish in the microwave. Alternatively, you can place the container in hot water and change it each half our. You’ll find that your thawed quinoa still tastes flavorful, has excellent texture and still contains high levels of fiber, protein and vitamins.