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Does Quinoa Go Bad? How Long Does it Last?

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Raw Quinoa in a Glass Jar with Quinoa and a Spoon Beside in on the Countertop

Quinoa is a grain that has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its nutritional value. Commonly referred to as a superfood, it is high in protein and fiber and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

Because of its nutrient-rich profile, quinoa can be a healthy addition to any diet. But does quinoa go bad? How long does it last? In this blog post, we’ll answer those questions and more. We’ll also provide some tips for storing quinoa to help keep it fresh. So whether you’re new to this delicious grain or have been cooking with it for years, read on for all you need to know about keeping your quinoa delicious!

Raw Quinoa in a White Bowl

Does Quinoa Go Bad?

Like any food, quinoa can eventually go bad, especially if not stored properly. How long quinoa lasts depends on whether it is raw or cooked, and how it is stored.

How long does uncooked quinoa last?

Dry uncooked quinoa, stored in a pantry or cupboard, lasts 2-3 years following the date of purchase.

How long does cooked quinoa last?

Cooked quinoa lasts 6-7 days in the fridge and 6-12 months in the freezer if properly stored in an airtight container.

What are the signs that quinoa has gone bad?

Here are a few signs that quinoa has spoiled:

– Mold: mold is one of the most obvious signs that quinoa has gone bad. If you see mold growing on the grain, you’ll want to toss it out.

– Smell: another way to tell if it has gone bad is by its smell. Fresh quinoa should have a slightly nutty aroma, while rancid quinoa will smell sour or unpleasant. If your quinoa has a foul smell, it should be discarded.

– Texture: finally, you can also tell if quinoa is bad by its texture. When cooked, it should be fluffy and light. If it’s mushy, slimy, hard, or rubbery, it’s best to throw it out.

If you’re unsure whether your quinoa is still good, we suggest erring on the side of caution and throwing it out. That way, you can enjoy your meal without worrying about getting sick.

Raw Quinoa in a Glass Storage Container

How to Store Quinoa

Storing quinoa properly will extend its shelf life and help keep it fresh and safe to eat for as long as possible. How you store it will depend on whether it’s raw or cooked.

How to Store Uncooked Quinoa

Store dry uncooked quinoa in its original packaging (if unopened) or in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like a pantry or cupboard.

Avoid any moisture—if quinoa is stored in a humid environment, it will spoil more quickly.

Keep it away from direct light, as this can cause the grain to deteriorate.

If possible, quinoa should not be stored near other strong-smelling foods—the scent can permeate the grain and possibly affect the taste.

How to Store Cooked Quinoa

Cooked quinoa can either be refrigerated or frozen.

To store cooked quinoa in the fridge, first, make sure it is completely cooled. 10-20 minutes should be sufficient, depending on how big the batch it is. Do not leave it out longer than two hours to prevent potentially harmful bacteria growth (according to the USDA guidelines for food safety).

Place in an airtight container for optimal freshness and store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Cooked quinoa is good in the fridge for 6-7 days.

To store cooked quinoa in the freezer, use an appropriate container that will not allow excess air to get in. If you use a plastic storage bag, press out any air from the bag before freezing to help prevent freezer burn. Be sure to let it cool completely before transferring it to the freezer, but do not let it sit out more than 2 hours after cooking. Cooked quinoa is good in the freezer for 6-12 months.

How to store quinoa to extend its shelf life

Here are a few tips for extending the shelf life of uncooked quinoa:

  • Keep it in an airtight container, especially if you’ve opened the original package. This will protect it from moisture and oxygen, both of which can cause quinoa to spoil.
  • Store it in a cool, dry place, away from direct light. Pantries or cupboards are ideal. Avoid storing anywhere with excessive heat.
  • Store it in the fridge. Place unopened packages directly in the fridge, or transfer them to an airtight container.
  • Vacuum-pack it and store in the freezer. Storing it in the freezer might make your uncooked quinoa last even longer. However, it’s imperative that all air be removed beforehand; otherwise, it may degrade faster because of oxygen exposure at temperatures below freezing (aka freezer burn). Vacuum-packing is the best way to ensure all air is removed and no air gets in.

Cooked quinoa will last in the fridge for up to 7 days. To make it last longer, you can store it in the freezer for up to 12 months. Using containers with tight-fitting lids or freezer bags with any excess air removed will ensure the frozen quinoa maintains its taste and texture.

Cooked Quinoa in a Bowl

Can you Freeze Quinoa? 

Yes, you can freeze quinoa, either raw or cooked.

How to Freeze Uncooked Quinoa

If you have an unopened package of quinoa, you can place it directly in the freezer. You may want to place the package in a freezer bag for extra assurance that no air will get in or out.

If you have an opened package of quinoa that you would like to freeze, the best way to do that is to vacuum-pack it first, which will remove all excess air and prevent any air from getting in.

When stored properly in the freezer without air exposure, raw quinoa can potentially last well beyond the 2-3 year recommendation.

If you don’t have a vacuum-sealer, you can still store it in the freezer in an airtight container. However, keep in mind the potential for freezer burn. Any air that gets in may actually cause it to degrade faster, so it may last longer if you simply store it in the pantry or cupboard.

How to Freeze Cooked Quinoa

Leftover quinoa can be easily frozen and reheated, making it a great option for meal prep. Here’s how to store quinoa in the freezer after cooking:

First, let the cooked quinoa cool completely, but no longer than two hours.

Transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Be sure to press out any excess air before sealing the bag.

Tip: portion it out into individual servings. That way, you can thaw only what you need.

Label the container or freezer bags with the date and freeze. Cooked quinoa will last 6-12 months in the freezer.

To re-cook frozen quinoa, here are a few options:

  • Add it to boiling water or broth and simmer until heated.
  • Reheat the cooked quinoa in the microwave. Be sure to add a splash of water or broth to prevent it from drying out.
  • Add the frozen quinoa directly to soups or other dishes. Note that you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

For shorter cooking times, thaw it in the fridge overnight and reheat using any of the above options.

Quinoa in a Glass Bowl with Quinoa on the Counter

Summary 

Quinoa has a long shelf life, especially when stored correctly. And once cooked, it makes for great leftovers. However, it is important to remember that both raw and cooked quinoa can go bad, so check for any signs of spoilage before eating. By following the simple tips above, you can ensure that your quinoa stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.

Bowl of Cooked and Bowl of Raw Quinoa

Common Questions

Here you’ll find answers to related questions about expiration and storage.

Does quinoa expire? Is it safe to eat expired quinoa?

Dry quinoa can usually be safely consumed well past the printed date. Quinoa packaging is typically labeled with a “best-by” date, which is not an expiration date, so it doesn’t refer to safety. Rather, it’s the date by which the manufacturers recommend using the product for best quality (optimal freshness, taste, and texture).

But just because quinoa doesn’t technically expire doesn’t mean it can’t eventually go bad and be potentially unsafe to eat. If you’re unsure whether your quinoa is bad, be sure to thoroughly evaluate it before consuming it.

  • Visual inspection: make sure to visually inspect the quinoa for any signs of spoilage, such as mold or rancidity.
  • Smell test: If everything looks normal, give the quinoa a smell before cooking it. Notice any unpleasant smells? Then it’s best to play it safe and throw it out.

If it looks and smells normal–cook the quinoa as you normally would. But be sure to discard it if you notice any strange textures or flavors.

How long does quinoa last in the fridge? 

Cooked quinoa lasts 6-7 days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.

How long is dry quinoa good for?

Dry quinoa is good for 2-3 years if properly stored in a cool, dry place.

How long is cooked quinoa good for?

Cooked quinoa is good for 6-7 days in the refrigerator or 6-12 months in the freezer.


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