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How Long Do Cereals Last? Can They Go Bad?

How Long Do Cereals Last? Can They Go Bad?

Cereals come in a broad variety of forms and shapes and have been enjoyed by people for millennia. They are immensely popular for a number of reasons. They’re packed with nutrients and relatively cheap. And, they are also a brilliant food for those of us who are always on the go. Cereal can be made from pretty much any kind of grain, each with its own benefits. It’s just great for when you need to pack some calories in quickly before a long day at work. There are millions of types out there, with everyone having their own favorite. In fact, heated debate over cereals and which one is best is commonplace in many homes.

Do Cereals Go Bad?

The simple answer to this is yes. At some point, all cereals will eventually go bad. But, you might be surprised at how long some types can last. The ones that are more simple in composition tend to last for longer. For example, cornflakes will last far longer than a cereal with nuts in. Overall though, because they are dry good, they can keep for much longer than you would expect. The only thing is that they need to be stored correctly. Thankfully, this article is packed with loads of great tips that will show you how to do this. We also have put together a guide that will show you how to recognize the signs that your cereal may have gone off. So, if this is the sort of information you are looking for, you’ve come to the right place!

How Do I Store Cereals?

It will come as no surprise to you that cereal is pretty easy to store. There are only a few tricks to keeping it for an incredibly long time. These will only apply to certain types of cereals though. We will try to break it down as best as possible under the two headings below.

Unopened boxes of cereal

Unopened boxes of cereal are really easy to store for a long time. Sometimes they can even store for longer than the sell-by date even. The only thing you need to do is to keep it away from the elements. Cereal really doesn’t deal well with moisture, air, or heat. Of these, moisture will ruin your cereal the quickest. So, the most important thing is to keep it away from areas of moisture and condensation. A lot of people keep theirs on top of the fridge, but this isn’t really the best idea. Instead, go for somewhere cool and dark. The pantry or a kitchen cabinet away from the cooker are the best choices. There is no need to transfer the contents into another container. The unopened box and bag combo are pretty much as good as it gets.

Opened boxes of cereal

Opened boxes of cereals need a little more care than opened ones. They also won’t last as long. As soon as the air in your kitchen hits the contents, the countdown clock starts ticking. But, there are ways to prolong its lifespan. We have found that folding down the bag and clipping it shut is a pretty good technique. But there is a better way to keep it for even longer. We recommend transferring the contents if you intend to keep the cereal for a long time or if you don’t use it often. Airtight containers are perfect for this, and as an extra bonus they stack up very nicely in the pantry. Perfect for when you have a good selection of cereals at your disposal. Apart from that, there is really no other trick.

Should You Refrigerate Cereal?

There are a crazy amount of cereal types out there, and only a small few of these will benefit in any way from being stored in the fridge. The fridge is the best place for cereals such as oatmeal and porridge after they have been prepared. The only way to store them is in an airtight container. This is because there are plenty of odors and moisture circulating around every fridge. The cereal will eventually absorb odors, ruining its flavor entirely. For example, no one is going to enjoy a porridge that tastes faintly of onions, are they? Unfortunately, prepared cereals won’t last very long in the fridge, even in optimal conditions. They will only last as long as it takes for the first ingredient takes to go off. In nearly all cases, this will be the milk. So, try not to make too much oatmeal at one time.

Can You Freeze Cereal?

This question might seem a bit strange but bear with us. The answer came as a surprise to us too, because yes, cereal can indeed be frozen! Dried cereals such as cheerios will transform it into a nice and cold, crunchy treat. Then, when you add milk, it is pretty much the most refreshing breakfast you can imagine. The milk also absorbs more flavor from the frozen cereal. We don’t understand exactly how this works, but it is definitely worth trying for yourself! For the best results, freeze a bowl worth of cereal in an airtight container or a freezer bag for an hour or so. Then, simply add milk and enjoy the extra crunchiness. No more soggy cereals! So, there is no pint freezing cereal to make it last longer, but this is still a worthwhile experiment.

How Long Does Cereal Last?

If you follow the instructions above, your cereal will last for a very long time. In fact, even if your cereal is a month or so out of date, there may be no reason to throw it out just yet. We would suggest that a standard box of cereal, unopened, will last for up to 6 months after its sell-by date. This will apply to cereals like cheerios, cornflakes, and shredded wheat. If there are nuts in your cereal, it will only last as long as it takes those nuts to go rancid. However, as soon as the cereal has been opened, we would recommend using it within 3 months for best quality. We would also recommend consulting our section below on how to spot the signs that your cereal may have gone off. After all, there is always something that can go wrong.

How Do I Make My Cereal Last Longer?

The only real tip we can give you to make sure your cereal lasts for a long time is to keep it away from the elements. This is because even freezing it won’t buy you extra time. So, there is no magic trick to it. Just make sure it is always kept sealed and away from moisture and heat.

Signs That Your Cereal May Have Gone Off

Because cereals have all been dried before packaging, there isn’t much that can go wrong with them. However, if you live in a humid climate and don’t keep your cereal sealed up, then you might have some problems. If moisture has gotten into your cereal, it can become a disaster zone pretty quickly. You may notice that the cereal has all clumped together. There may be a rotten smell. At worst, there will even be some mold in there. In either case, the whole lot will need to be thrown out. Don’t try to save the ‘good’ parts as it will pretty much all be bad. There are also some more subtle signs of spoilage. The best check is to use your ears. Grab some of the cereal and crumble it between your fingers. If it doesn’t make a cracking noise and offers little resistance, it is definitely gone off.

Well, that’s all we have for cereals. We hope you found at least some of the information here useful. We were particularly impressed with the frozen cereal trick ourselves. Thanks for reading!



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