Quinoa is quite often described as a superfood, which adds quite a bit to its appeal. Unfortunately, this does also mean that people like me can buy it in bulk and then just simply not really know what to do with it. Every now and then, a good use will be found for it, but more often than not it will sit idly by as easier and more familiar options are taken. So, if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, you are probably wondering how long quinoa can be stored for. Luckily, we’ve put in the time and found all of the answers to all of the quinoa-related questions you can think of. If this is the info you’re looking for, we’d recommend reading on!
(Also Read: Grain-Free Quinoa and Buckwheat Granola, Roasted Asparagus and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing)
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Does Quinoa Go Bad?
Like any other grain you can think of, quinoa will eventually begin to take a turn for the worse somewhere down the line. Naturally, cooked quinoa will go off much quicker than raw and dry, but how long exactly does that take? Coming up, we explain how best to store quinoa for the longest possible time and how to tell the signs that it has gone off.
How Do I Store Quinoa?
Thankfully, there are no major complications in storing dry and unopened quinoa for prolonged periods of time. There are but a few important things to consider. The most important of these is whether or not there is any chance that moisture could find its way into your quinoa. This is without a doubt the worst thing that can happen as, when it does occur, it means that the whole bag is effectively ruined almost instantly. With the moisture, bacterial growth will follow and you will begin to notice mold fairly rapidly. It is also a good idea to keep the packaging away from sources of direct sunlight and heat. So, your best bet is to store your quinoa in either the pantry or in a cool, dark kitchen cabinet. After the package has been opened, we would then recommend transferring the contents into an airtight container to ensure freshness over a longer period.
Cooked quinoa won’t deal at all well with room temperature, even for a short period of time. So, the best thing you can do is to first let it cool to room temperature after cooking it. After this, it can be secured in an airtight container and placed into the fridge. The most important thing to remember is not to let it sit at room temperature for more than 90 minutes and always keep it covered when it is in the fridge. If it is left uncovered, it will begin to absorb all of the stray odors and moisture molecules. Over a short time, this won’t present much of an issue, but over a long time, it can become quite unpleasant and even lead to premature spoilage.
Should You Refrigerate Quinoa?
For cooked quinoa, there really is nowhere better for it than in a sealed container in the fridge. For raw quinoa, you may be tempted to treat it in the same way, but it actually survives much better in the temperatures that can be found in the average pantry or cabinet. No need to take up valuable fridge real estate!
Can You Freeze Quinoa?
Because raw quinoa can already last for such a long time, there is no need to freeze it. In fact, this may not actually add anything to its lifespan whatsoever. Where freezing can be useful is if the quinoa has already been cooked. Like rice and many healthy grains, there is a popular movement of athletes and bodybuilders using quinoa in their pre-prepared meals. For their healthy kick, they are cooking their quinoa alongside their chosen proteins and greens and putting a week’s worth of it into the freezer. When it comes time to defrost, they simply put their meal into the fridge the night before they intend to have it to defrost. However, if you forget to take the quinoa out the night before, it isn’t the end of the world. There are a few other safe methods to defrost frozen quinoa. Our favorite method is to do it slowly over a pan on a medium to low heat. In a pinch, it can also be microwaved but the texture won’t quite be at its best this way. With any of these methods, don’t worry about your quinoa losing all of its nutrients and benefits. They will remain intact after the freezing, thawing, and reheating process.
How Long Does Quinoa Last?
One of the best things about bulk buying grains like rice and quinoa is that you know you can simply tuck them away for incredibly long periods of time and they won’t go bad. Sure, there is a limit to this, but that limit is nowhere near short enough to entertain the idea of only buying what you need. So, with dried quinoa, every variety of it will be able to survive for up to three years if stored correctly. In some cases, the manufacturer may supply a best-by date that may well be much shorter than this, but this is no real reason to be concerned. Instead, look for the production or packaging date. 3 years on from this date is a much better indicator of freshness. Even after this period, there is still a chance that the quinoa will be totally fine. However, we would still recommend discarding ancient quinoa and replacing it with a newer package just to be on the safe side. If in any doubt as to the freshness of your quinoa, please consult our section below where we show you how to identify the signs that your quinoa has gone off.
The introduction of moisture into any grain will set the countdown clock ticking straight away. Moisture invites bacteria into the mix, so if it is left on the counter it can begin to become unsafe to consume within a short a time as two hours. Though it does fare much better in the refrigerator, don’t expect that it will last weeks. We would recommend using it within a five day period after it has first been refrigerated. Any longer than this and you will notice the quality diminishing, and perhaps even some signs of spoilage. For storing cooked quinoa, the freezer is king. Stored in an airtight container, it is pretty much unaffected by the passage of time, and won’t really go off. However, it will begin to shed its flavor and nutritional qualities after around 9 months.
How Do I Make Quinoa Last Longer?
For raw quinoa, the only thing you can really do is to always keep it in a sealed container out of the way of such harmful elements as heat, air, sunlight, and moisture. Beyond this, there is nothing left to do. If you really want to keep some cooked quinoa for an absurdly long time, the freezer is the only way to go! Simply put it in an airtight container and leave it in the freezer. Here, it will pretty much take care of itself for up to 9 months.
Signs That Your Quinoa May Have Gone Off
For dry quinoa, the most obvious sign of spoilage is if moisture has gotten into the package. If it has, the whole thing will immediately turn into a disaster zone. The bag may have swelled, some grains will be clumped to others, and there may well be mold dotted throughout. If you notice any of these signs, your only option is to discard the lot. Don’t try to save any as those parts that look fine will simply be in a lesser state of decay. The next easy sign to spot is any changes in color or odor. Naturally, these changes will also mean you have to throw away the whole lot. However, it can happen sometimes that the quinoa will appear and smell totally normal and fine until it is cooked. Be on the lookout for any strange textures or notes of flavor that shouldn’t be there. Lastly, in terms of cooked quinoa, when this goes bad it generally lets you know in the simplest of terms – mold.