Granola is widely perceived as one of the healthiest breakfast foods, so it’s commonly found on our shelves tucked amongst the high-sugar cereals. We all go through health-kicks from time to time, at least that’s why my cupboards are overflowing with neglected healthy ingredients from chia to spirulina.
Granola is a great way to start your day, and served up with some natural yoghurt and fresh berries it provides protein, energy and delicious flavours to get you going in the morning.
If you bought some granola a while ago and now it languishes on the shelf, you’ll wonder how long it can last. The good news is that granola is an incredibly long-lasting product. Granola comes in all shapes and sizes, and these ingredients affect its lifespan, so let’s take a look at what goes into a bowl of granola.
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What Goes Into A Bowl Of Granola?
One of the things that makes granola so delicious is that it’s a combination of sweet and nutritious ingredients.
The main ingredient in granola is the crunchy cereal itself – this is usually made from rolled oats that have been baked, sometimes with a sweetener, to help them combine. These form the bulk of your granola.
Sometimes you’ll find baked puffed rice in there too – like a Rice Krispie in your granola. Puffed rice is lower in calories, so a granola with a ratio that favours rice will be a lighter option.
Dried fruit and chopped nuts are then added to the granola as a finishing touch. The flavours and textures offered by these ingredients elevate granola into a sophisticated breakfast that makes you feel good.
The other way you might encounter granola is in the form of a bar. Granola is so popular now that people want to take it everywhere they go. Granola bars feature all the granola ingredients, usually bound together with something extra sugary such as maple syrup or sticky Medjool dates. Granola bars are easy to make at home as a way to use any leftover granola you might have, so we’ll check up on how long granola bars can last as well.
There are a million ways to make a granola – you can have dried mango for a tropical twist, a classic granola with raisins and almonds, or a berry heaven with freeze dried blueberries and raspberries. All these ingredients are cooked or dried however, so your granola will last a long time on the shelf. But how long?
How Long Does Granola Last? Can It Go Bad?
Although granola can be relied upon to last for a long time, ultimately it will go bad.
Unless your granola becomes contaminated with something that can grow mold, there are two main ways your granola can go bad. The puffed rice and rolled oats can start to go stale, and the nuts, with their high fat content, can start to go rancid. Fortunately, neither of these processes is likely to do you much damage, but it will detract from the quality, taste and texture of your granola.
Whenever you buy granola in the store, the package will have a best-by date on it. This can be used as a guideline for gauging how long your granola will last. But because granola is such a hardy foodstuff, it’s likely that your granola will far outlast this date.
Your store-bought granola will come sealed, which protects the product from air and moisture. This dramatically slows down the chemical processes which cause your granola to go bad. If you find some unopened granola at the back of your cupboard, you can expect it to be good for at least six months beyond that best-by date.
Once you open your granola, it does start going bad, however slowly. Contact with the air will oxidize the fatty nuts, slowly turning them rancid. And the oats and rice will begin to go stale. These processes aren’t quick though – if you store your granola correctly, it should still last around six months from when you opened it.
Granola bars are also a long-lasting product. Store-bought bars will usually be individually wrapped, so they’re protected from the elements. These bars should last be good for around six months beyond the best-by, and possibly a lot longer.
Homemade bars won’t last as long. Without access to the same ingredients and preservatives, these bars will go stale pretty quickly. You won’t get sick, but it won’t be the same experience. If you’ve made some granola bars at home, they should last around a week.
A bowl of stale granola won’t do you much harm, but it will compromise the taste and texture of your breakfast. Granola is all about the crunch, so stale granola can be profoundly disappointing! To avoid such a bad start to your day, you need to know how to tell if granola has gone bad.
How To Tell If Granola Has Gone Bad
Granola is a great breakfast because it makes you feel good. Granola gone bad, however, is sure to disappoint. And that could throw your whole day off!
Although it’s rare for granola to sprout mold, sometimes it can be contaminated if it has been stored incorrectly. If you’ve stumbled on some old granola, you should give it a visual inspection for furry grey or dark colored mold. If there’s any mold at all, throw it out.
Sometimes granola can be left out and absorb moisture without it growing mold. If your granola has gone soft due to contact with the air but appears free from mold, you can rejuvenate it by re-baking it. Five minutes in the oven on a tray lined in aluminum foil will dry it out and bring it back to that crisp crunch.
It’s more likely for granola to go stale, or for the nuts in granola to go rancid. You can check up on these things with a test of taste and smell.
Granola should have a sweet, nutty scent. Give your granola a sniff and if you get a stale or unpleasant smell, then it’s likely that your granola has gone bad. Rancid nuts can give off a sharp chemical smell so that’s one to look out for. If your granola smells okay, even if it’s long past its best-by date, it could be good to go.
Stale granola occurs when the oats and puffed rice absorb the air and go soft. Usually this will have a neutral smell, so if you’ve found some old granola you’ll need to give it a taste test to find out if it’s good. You’ll know it’s gone bad if that characteristic crunch has been replaced by a sorry softness. Your granola is still edible, but the quality will definitely have been compromised.
Fortunately, your granola will last a long time before going bad if you store it correctly. Let’s see how to maximize your granola’s lifespan, and keep the crunch!
How To Store Granola
Storing granola is all about keeping it away from air and moisture.
Contact with the air will kick-start an oxidation process in the nuts, slowly turning them rancid. Roasted nuts and chopped nuts, staple ingredients in granola, are especially prone to turning rancid because the oils have been drawn to the outside of the nut, and surface area is increased.
Once your granola has been opened for the first time, it’s essential that you keep the bag sealed as tightly as possible. Transferring your granola out of the bag and into a mason jar is a great way to ensure it stays for as long as possible.
There’s not much to be gained from keeping your granola in the fridge. In fact, the moist environment of the fridge could soften your granola. A cool, dry space is the best place to keep your granola, so the kitchen cupboard or pantry are perfect spots.
Can You Freeze Granola?
If you’ve really got a surplus of granola you can freeze it to keep it fresh. Whatever you freeze your granola in, you want to minimize the amount of moisture that’s in there – otherwise your granola will go soggy when you defrost it. If your granola is unopened it can be frozen in its original packaging – otherwise transfer it to an airtight bag and squeeze out as much air as possible. Your granola will be good in the freezer for a couple of years!
Because granola is so long-lasting, it’s a great back-up option for whenever you run out of your regular cereal. Just make sure you store it correctly, otherwise you’ll compromise the crunch.