Does Popcorn Go Bad? How Long Does Popcorn Last?

Popcorn is a popular snack for movie nights, and binge your favorite shows with friends. It’s also a great staple in craft projects like stringing for your Christmas tree and it lasts indefinitely. Popcorn won’t go bad, but it will degrade in quality over time.

Quick Answer

Unpopped kernels of popcorn should be stored in the pantry or in an area of your home that does not have exposure to high heat or extreme cold, as well as being light protected. Unpopped kernels can last outside indefinitely. Popped kernels can be stored in an air-tight container to keep away from moisture for up to 2 weeks. There are no benefits to store the popcorn in the fridge or freezer.

Let’s look at if popcorn goes bad, and how to prolong its shelf life storing at room temperature or in a pantry, in the fridge, and in the freezer.

Does Popcorn Go Bad? How Long Does Popcorn Last?

Popcorn doesn’t necessarily go bad as long as it isn’t already cooked. Popcorn can last a long time – stored properly. It thrives best in the pantry, it’s not great to refrigerate, and it definitely shouldn’t be frozen.

How Long Does Popcorn Last Outside

Popcorn is one of those snacks that can last indefinitely – before it’s popped that is. After popping, it will become stale and cold and inedible.

Popcorn can last outside indefinitely as long as it is Unpopped and not subject to crazy fluctuating temperatures. It’s best to be kept in air-tight and dry place, away from direct sunlight. This is a tad different for regular popcorn kernels and microwave popcorn kernels.

Regular popcorn kernels are not kept with oil, and instead are just stored dry. When they begin to turn darker than their natural tan coloring, and develop a strange smell they may have gone bad. The best way to tell is to see if they will pop. Kernels that have gone off will not pop and instead will stay kernels.

Microwave popcorn is kept stored with oils and things that help keep it fresh (with excessive packaging as well). They should be kept away from direct sunlight and moisture to preserve the oils and flavor of the kernels. Microwave kernel popcorn however can last a tad longer, and is less likely to go off than popcorn kept naturally.

How Long Does Popcorn Last in the Fridge

Popcorn does not last long in the fridge, as there are no benefits to storing it in the fridge before or after popping the kernels.

Popcorn before popping should be kept in a dry place where the temperature isn’t too cold or too warm. It should be kept in a natural state for as long as possible to preserve the safety of the corn.

Popcorn after popping will only go stale in the fridge. It can’t really be stored for later, and it can’t necessarily be reheated after the fact.

When doing crafts, popcorn shouldn’t be put in the fridge as it won’t chill enough to make it stiff or hold shape, in fact, the only slightly cold temperature and moisture in the fridge can make the popcorn go soft and mushy.

How Long Does Popcorn Last in the Freezer

Popcorn does not last long in the freezer, as there are no benefits to storing it in the freezer before or after popping the kernels.

Popcorn before popping should be kept in a dry place where the temperature isn’t too cold or too warm. It should be kept in a natural state for as long as possible to preserve the safety of the corn.

Popcorn after popping will only go stale in the freezer. It can’t really be stored for later, and it can’t necessarily be reheated after the fact.

When doing crafts, popcorn should be put in the freezer as it will chill enough to make it stiff and able to hold it’s shape. The icy cold temperature of the freezer is best for making popcorn balls or stringing with cranberries for your Christmas tree.

Conclusion

In turn, the only place popcorn should really be kept is in the pantry or an air-tight place outside. It should not be kept in the fridge or freezer, and it won’t really hold up well after being popped (microwave or however you make it.) It will quickly go stale, and lose flavor.

How To Tell If Popcorn Kernels Have Gone Bad?

Popcorn kernels can go bad if stored improperly, but they should last indefinitely. You can tell by looking at these characteristics.

Smell: They lose their smell. Popcorn should smell like butter, and oils (if microwave bagged popcorn). It should not smell sour. Kettle corn should have a slightly sweeter smell before popping. Natural popcorn kernels won’t have much of a smell however, so if they do begin to smell, they may be bad.

Color: Naturally, popcorn is golden tan kernels, and when they start to go off, they turn darker in color. The best way to tell is by putting them to pop, and if the kernels do not pop, then they are bad. Some may pop, but if the majority don’t then the kernels are bad. Microwave popcorn is the same way with kernels popping, but it’s less possible to tell if it’s bad just by looking because of the way bags are formed and the oils in the microwave popcorn that keep it fresher.

Noise: Popcorn that has gone bad will not pop – so if you put it in your pot, or microwave or air fryer or however you choose to pop your corn, it won’t pop and you won’t hear noise from the popcorn. This is probably the easiest way to tell.

How to Store Popcorn?

Popcorn should be stored in one place to keep the best possible way, and to get the most use out of it. The pantry.

Pantry: Popcorn can last outside indefinitely as long as it is Unpopped and not subject to crazy fluctuating temperatures. It’s best to be kept in air-tight and dry place, away from direct sunlight. This is a tad different for regular popcorn kernels and microwave popcorn kernels. Regular popcorn kernels are not kept with oil, and instead are just stored dry. Extreme heat and extreme cold are not great for storing popcorn.

Original Packaging: Keep microwaved popcorn in its own packaging. It is in a microwave safe container, and it contains preservatives and other things that will keep it in peak condition for a long while. This includes the plastic outer wrapper often found on microwave popcorn bags. If you want to transfer popcorn kernels into a different container, it’s all in your preference – as long as the container you transfer to is heat and light protected, and air safe.

Can You Freeze Popcorn? How?

No, popcorn cannot be frozen – unless it is cooked. Popcorn cannot be frozen for one reason: the extreme exposure to cold.

Too cold for popcorn: Popcorn kernels cannot be frozen. The cold does not allow the popcorn to remain in it’s natural state, and the cold may cause the kernel to lose it’s ability to pop due to freezing. Also, the cold may cause too much moisture to leach into the popcorn kernels causing it to either mold when thawed, or will not allow it to pop. Popcorn should be kept as dry as possible as it’s a dried good.

Popcorn should only be frozen after it has been popped, and can be used in a project like making popcorn streamers or popcorn balls and it should only be frozen for a short period of time to allow it to stiffen up, and not let it become too stale to eat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Popcorn

These next two questions talk about popcorn kernels and how you can tell why they didn’t pop, and if they can be re-popped.

How can you tell why your popcorn kernels didn’t pop?

They didn’t pop because the popcorn is past it’s shelf life and is no longer edible. These are ways to tell why they won’t pop: popcorn kernels that are bad often smell bad, or off (depending on if they’re microwave ready or natural kernels), they also will not pop when attempting to make popcorn. They also will grow darker in color as they age, they should look as natural as possible – which is a golden tan color.

Can you re-pop popcorn that didn’t pop the first time?

Typically, the first time you pop popcorn, some kernels will not pop. They won’t pop the longer you cook it, and pretty soon, they’ll just burn and make your home smell like burned popcorn – a smell that is not easily removed. This doesn’t matter if it’s natural popcorn kernels or microwave popcorn kernels. However, microwave popcorn that was not given enough time to cook, can be put back in the microwave to continue cooking. This means that if you take your bag out or stop the microwave, and your bagged popcorn starts to look flat that your popcorn wasn’t popped all the way and needs longer to be cooked. This won’t ruin the already cooked popcorn, just be careful not to do it too long as the popcorn can still be burned.

Wrap Up

This article talked about the best way to store popcorn (the pantry – always temperature stable and away from sunlight). The fridge and the freezer are both not recommended for storing popcorn as the temperature won’t do anything to help preserve the popcorn except when doing projects. Popcorn can only be re-popped if it didn’t pop long enough the first time, kernels may be bad and won’t pop period and should just be tossed.

 

 

 

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