From the campfire on a summer night to the hot chocolate that warms you in the winter, it is always “marshmallow season”. If you love them too, you probably keep a bag in your cupboard all year, but it is fair if you do not know if they ever go bad.
Marshmallows typically stay fresh for 1-6 months after the best-by date on the package, if the bag has never been opened. Once the bag has been opened, marshmallows can last between 7 days and 4 months, depending on how you store them. As long as they are sealed away from moisture, heat, and ants, marshmallows are safe to eat indefinitely, but they will harden, turn yellow, and lose their flavor.
The shelf-life of marshmallows can vary a lot. How long they will last depends on the brand, the ingredients, and how they are stored.
Do Marshmallows Go Bad? How Long Do Marshmallows Last?
Traditionally, marshmallows were made from mallow root sap. Today, they are mostly made from gelatin, sugar, and water. The “best before” date is a guideline from the manufacturer that safely suggests how long the marshmallows will stay at peak quality.
How Long Do Marshmallows Last on the Shelf?
It is most common to store marshmallows in a cool pantry or cupboard. The biggest risk is a hot or humid climate, where the marshmallows can melt, even if the bag has never been opened.
An unopened bag of marshmallows can be expected to stay fresh for 1-2 months. Some brands are made to last up to 6 months when carefully stored, and some fans of the treat believe they can last up to 8 months.
Most brands recommend consuming an opened bag of marshmallows within 3 days. This is to enjoy them at their best quality, although you may find that your marshmallows can last up to 4 months after you opened them.
How Long Do Marshmallows Last in the Fridge?
For most households, it is not necessary to store marshmallows in the refrigerator. You can expect them to last just as long as if you store them in a cupboard or pantry.
If you live in a tropical climate, the fridge may keep marshmallows fresh for 1-2 months. They must be kept slightly cooler than room temperature, but the fridge is rarely the best option for storage.
Marshmallows can absorb moisture and odor from your fridge. It is recommended to seal them tightly to extend their freshness for as long as you can. Even then, they may become sticky after spending time in the fridge.
How Long Do Marshmallows Last in the Freezer?
Most brands do not recommend freezing their marshmallows. The practice is not common, but marshmallows are known to retain their texture and will be perfectly safe to freeze if you need to extend their freshness a little longer.
You can store marshmallows in the freezer for approximately 4 months. If you know you will not be able to consume the bag you brought home within a month or so, freezing it may be a better option.
Some marshmallow consumers believe frozen marshmallows are still good up to 6 months. Most agree, however, that after 4 months there is heightened risk of your marshmallows absorbing moisture or becoming sticky.
Marshmallows are broadly safe to eat even after they have passed their expiration date. For the best taste, and simply because they are delicious, you will likely want to try to consume the bag before the best before date on the bag.
How To Tell If Marshmallows Have Gone Bad / How To Know Marshmallows are Fresh
Fresh marshmallows are sweet and fluffy or spongey in texture. They should be soft to touch, some say powdery, but they will become sticky with age. Their aroma is straight sugar, subtle and pleasant. Look for signs of spoilage if you are uncertain about how long you have been keeping your marshmallows around.
Odor. The most obvious sign of spoilage is the smell. When marshmallows have spoiled, they will begin to smell stale, and they might become rancid over time.
Texture. As they spoil, marshmallows will harden. They will also become increasingly sticky and begin to clump together. If you happen to eat a spoiled marshmallow, it will be chewy instead of airy and soft.
Appearance. Fresh marshmallows look like little clouds, puffy and soft. They tend to shrivel as they age and harden. If left in a warm place, they may melt together into one lump. When white marshmallows spoil, they will turn begin to turn yellow.
Bugs. Sugar attracts all kinds of insects. Mostly, ants tend to find their way to marshmallows. Inspect the bag carefully for the tiny black pests and discard the bag immediately if you find any. This usually happens if the bag has not been well sealed and has been stored in a pantry or cupboard.
How to Store Marshmallows?
You can get the most out of your marshmallows by storing them properly. You may even be able to extend their shelf life if you need to, so you can enjoy them longer and reduce waste.
Seal them tightly. Air will dry them out and moisture will make them sticky. They also absorb the odors of surrounding foods, which will alter their taste. If you are not ready to open the bag right away, check it for holes before trying to store it.
Keep them cool. Marshmallows do well when they are stored just under room temperature. Store them away from any sources of heat, such as the oven. If they become overheated, they will melt.
Store with bread. It is frequently suggested that you store your marshmallows with a piece of bread; any ordinary bread will do. The bread will absorb excess moisture in the bag or container with your marshmallows and keep them a little fresher for a little longer.
Can You Freeze Marshmallows? How?
Putting marshmallows in the freezer can help you stock up when they are on sale, without having to worry about the waste. They will keep for an extra four months, at least, without degrading in quality.
The whole bag. If you know it will be a few months before you get to them, you can toss an unopened bag straight into the freezer. Just check that it has no holes in it before you do. It is also recommended to put the bag into a freezer-safe Ziploc bag.
In portions. To reduce waste, it may be wise for you to separate handfuls of marshmallows into smaller portions and freeze them. You can wrap these portions in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, or a layering of both, for added protection against cold damage. Just make sure you leave no holes for air to get through.
How to Thaw Marshmallows?
Marshmallows retain their fluffy texture after they have been thawed. When it comes time to dip into your frozen marshmallow stash, you probably want to know that you are defrosting them most effectively.
On the counter. Some say you can simply pull the bag of marshmallows from the freezer and toss it on the counter. Let the marshmallows that for a few hours at room temperature.
In the fridge. As with many other food items, it is most often recommended to store the marshmallows in the refrigerator overnight to thaw them.
Frequently Asked Questions About Marshmallow’s Shelf Life
What if my marshmallows have become sticky? If you find that your marshmallows have not exceeded their shelf life, but they are a little stickier than they should be, you can save them. Shake them in a sealed bag with a little powdered sugar or cornstarch to coat them. As long as they are not displaying any other signs of spoilage, they should still be perfectly safe to consume.
Can marshmallows grow mold? Sugar restrains the growth of bacteria and fungi, so in general, marshmallows are not known to grow mold. In some rare cases, it may be possible for mold to grow on marshmallows. Typically, when it does, it is because the marshmallows contain some flavoring, egg whites, or other ingredients that attract bacteria.
When it comes to marshmallows, there is some debate on whether they ever truly “go bad”. Some consumers prefer their marshmallows to be a little stale; and there seems to be a solution for some signs of spoilage that promise to restore the taste and texture of these treats. Always exercise caution before consuming any food that might be less-than-fresh.