How long does quinoa last?

Quinoa is one of the most popular gluten-free alternatives to rice or even cereals. Marketed as one of the most popular foods out there, it’s a great source of manganese and phosphorus, and packs a fair amount of other goods such as dietary fiber, folate, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Since quinoa is fairly new to the food marketplace, people often aren’t sure how long does it last or if it is freezable. Especially after cooking. Let’s go through the most essential information about quinoa.

Quinoa in a wooden bowl
Photo by Philipp Alexander on Flickr.

How to store quinoa?

Uncooked quinoa should be stored in a cool and dry area, preferably in the pantry. If keeping it in a cool place isn’t an option, room temperature is fine too. Make sure it’s kept in an airtight container so if any moisture finds its way to where quinoa is stored, it won’t get to the seeds. Water in quinoa will make it go bad quickly, even within a few days. While most packages that quinoa comes in are airtight, once you open the package, unless it’s resealable, transfer quinoa to one of your food containers.

Once quinoa is cooked and cooled down (a few hours on the countertop will do), it should go into the fridge in an airtight container.

How long does quinoa last?

Uncooked quinoa, if stored properly, lasts at least a year. Often, it can last much more than that. If its a few months after the “Best by” date on the package, but it remains intact, it’s definitely worth checking out if quinoa is still good. Chances are it is. With time its quality might deteriorate slightly, but it probably won’t go “bad.”

Cooked quinoa lasts about 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Generally speaking the sooner you use it, the better.

Can you freeze quinoa?

If you’d like to extend shelf life of quinoa, freezing is an option. While it’s definitely possible to freeze uncooked quinoa, in most cases it’s better to leave it as is because its shelf life is really long. When it comes to freezing cooked quinoa, it makes perfect sense, especially if you’re meal prepping for the week ahead.

To freeze cooked quinoa, first wait until it’s cooled down completely, then transfer it into an airtight container or resealable freezer bags. If you don’t have a lot of freezer space to spare, freezer bags are a better choice. Since you will be defrosting the whole container or bag, think about portion size that makes sense to your needs. If using a bag, push out most of the air out of it before sealing. Remember to label the bag with food name and date of freezing. Now it’s ready to be put into the freezer.

To reheat frozen quinoa, first let it sit for a few hours on the countertop. Then heat it in the microwave or on the stove (add some water!). Generally speaking, heating it before eating isn’t necessary, but who likes cold quinoa?

Quinoa chili
Photo by Luca Nebuloni on Flickr.

How to tell if quinoa is bad?

Telling if uncooked quinoa is bad is in most cases quite tricky. If moisture got to it, there will be signs of mold or other discoloration that make it obvious it’s bad. If that’s the case, throw away the whole container or package. Don’t even think about removing the “moldy part” and eating the rest. If there aren’t any obvious visual signs or off smell (unlikely), cook it. If it’s something wrong with it, you’ll know after it’s cooked (change of texture, color, or smell).

In case of cooked quinoa, signs of it going bad are usually quite obvious. If there’s mold growing or you can spot any other discolorations, just throw it out. If it looks and smells right, taste it. If the taste is right, it’s most likely safe to eat. Of course, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so if your cooked quinoa sits in the fridge for a week, better toss it out.

Is quinoa safe to use after “expiration” date?

As already mentioned, uncooked quinoa has a pretty long shelf life, usually much longer than the “Best by” date on the package. If it was stored properly, chances are it will be still safe to eat months after the “Best by” date.

When it comes to cooked quinoa, don’t keep it in the fridge to see how long does it last. Eat it as soon as possible and if it was in the fridge for a week already, just throw it out.


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