Seems like that dusty old box of spaghetti noodles will always be in the back of your pantry. It is a kitchen staple that often gets lost in the back of the cupboard. Does pasta go bad?
Fresh, homemade pasta only lasts 4-5 days in the fridge, or up to 6-8 months in the freezer. Dried, store-bought pasta can last up to two years past its Best Buy date, if it is stored properly in a cool, dry place and airtight container. Cooked pasta can last up to 7 days in the refrigerator, or 5-7 months in the freezer.
All pasta you buy at the store will have a label that says “best if used by” or similar. These dates do not necessarily mean the pasta will make you sick by that date, but the manufacturer will not guarantee the pasta’s texture and flavor beyond that point.
Does Pasta Go Bad? How Long Does Pasta Last?
If you have old boxes of dried noodles or a package of fresh pasta in your fridge, you want to be aware of how long your fresh or dried pasta can last.
How Long Does Pasta Last at Room Temperature?
Is the pasta in your pantry still good? Dried, fresh, or cooked, if you are looking at a package of pasta that has been sitting in a cupboard or on your counter, you may be wondering if you can still eat it.
Dried pasta is best kept in a cool, dry place such as a cabinet or pantry. It does not matter if you have opened the package and removed half of the pasta, or if you have repackaged the pasta in an airtight container; keep it away from excess heat and moisture, and dried pasta should last you 1-2 years after the date printed on the box.
Fresh pasta cannot be kept at room temperature for any length of time. Neither can cooked pasta be left out on the counter overnight and eaten again, no matter how airtight the container is.
How Long Does Pasta Last in the Fridge?
Some people do not even bother with the relatively tasteless dried version of their favorite noodles or pasta. If you are one that buys or makes fresh pasta at home, you want to know how long it will last.
Fresh pasta can last about 4 days past the printed date when refrigerated. If you open the store-bought package, make sure to store what you don’t use in an airtight container before putting it in the fridge.
Cooked pasta can last up to 7 days in the fridge. If mixed with sauce, meat, vegetables, and such, cooked pasta is only as good as the fastest expiring ingredient you used. If not mixed with anything, toss the cooked pasta in a little olive oil to prevent clumping.
How Long Does Pasta Last in the Freezer?
As with the refrigerator, it does not benefit you to put dried pasta in the freezer; it does not prolong the shelf life.
In an airtight container, you can store fresh pasta in the freezer for 6-8 months. It may lose some quality as it is thawed, especially if it is near the end of its shelf-life.
Cooked pasta will also last in the freezer for 6-8 moths. Although, it will not likely taste as good or fresh, even if it has not gone bad. The freezing and thawing process takes a toll on pasta’s texture and flavor. Different pasta varieties and sauce combinations may help this.
In conclusion, you can keep dry pasta for years, but it will degrade in quality as it ages past its best buy date. Fresh or cooked pasta is best kept in the fridge or freezer, and do not expect it to last as long as its dried counterpart.
How To Tell If Pasta Has Gone Bad / How To Know Pasta is Fresh
Still not sure if your pasta in question is edible? Maybe you can’t remember when you put it in the fridge, and you are understandably hesitant to heat it up and try to eat it. Check for any of these obvious signs of expiration before trying to taste-test it for yourself.
Discoloration: Cooked and fresh pasta will both lose their color as they pass their shelf-life. Pasta will turn dullish gray or milky-white.
Slimy: Cooked pasta is especially notorious for becoming slimy as it goes bad. It becomes gooey, as if you boiled it in glue, just before it starts to grow mold.
Odor: Any pasta; dry, fresh, or cooked, may smell unpleasant once it has expired. Throw away any pasta that does not smell good.
Mold: Moisture breeds mold, and pasta is likely to grow white, black, or brown spots with this growth if it has been sitting for too long. This is not especially concerning for dry pasta, if stored in a dry place.
Pantry Bugs: Since dried pasta has no moisture content, the most obvious sign of its expiration will be pantry bugs. If you do find them, or worms, you may want to clean your pantry out thoroughly, to prevent them from spreading to other dry goods.
How to Store Pasta?
Keeping your pasta fresh for as long as possible starts with making sure you are storing it appropriately. Most manufacturers will provide storage instructions on the package, so check there as well.
Store dried pasta in a pantry, cupboard, or cabinet. The package should ideally be airtight or at least closed off from invading moisture or bugs. If you have opened the package to remove a portion of the pasta, you can still store the rest at room temperature.
Store Fresh and cooked pasta in tightly sealed containers. Fresh and cooked pasta will spoil if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, so they need to go straight into the refrigerator or freezer.
Can You Freeze Pasta? How?
Keeping your pasta in the freezer can keep it fresh longer. It can also benefit you to prepare for meals in advance or save leftovers from being thrown away and wasted. If you have found yourself with a load of extra pasta after preparing one meal, freeze the rest for the next pasta-based meal.
There is no need to freeze dried pasta. Although, freezing dry pasta will not hurt it, either. It is simply not necessary.
Cooked pasta can be frozen to make it last longer, or to make future meals easier to cook. If you intend to cook extra pasta for future meals, cook it al-dente, which means slightly undercooked. Run cool water over your pasta to stop the internal cooking process and toss with olive oil to prevent clumping. It will be most efficient to freeze it spread out on a cookie sheet for at least an hour, and then package in a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag.
How to Thaw Pasta?
When you are ready to use the past you have frozen, there are easy ways to thaw it without risk of spoiling it.
Put frozen pasta in a colander in the sink and run cool water over it. This method may take some time, but will thaw the pasta without cooking it.
Add frozen pasta directly to boiling water or simmering sauce. If you need to thaw your pasta quickly, cooking it will work in a minute or two.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pasta’s Shelf Life
You may have inspected your pasta in question and still have questions about its quality. Here, you may find your answers.
Can expired pasta make you sick? Yes, eating cooked or fresh pasta that has gone bad will likely contain bacteria that can upset your stomach or cause more severe foodborne illnesses. Dry pasta is not susceptible to such bacteria, but you should always be cautious.
How long do dry egg noodles last? They can last almost as long as ordinary pasta; up to two years after the printed date on the package. Make sure you seal your egg noodles tightly to store, and if they smell off at all, throw them away. The fat in egg noodles will cause an odor when it has spoiled.
Pasta is one of the most versatile and universally beloved foods. Even most of the world’s pickiest kids will still often love pasta dishes such as macaroni and cheese. Be sure to eat it before it truly goes bad.