Puffed rice cakes are great snacks to have around the house. They last quite a while, are relatively affordable, and help keep you full without packing on the calories.
However, this also means that sometimes they get shoved way into the back of the pantry and forgotten about for months. So, once you do re-discover them, you may be wondering if they are still good or not.
Do rice cakes go bad? Unfortunately, there is a very real possibility that rice cakes can go bad and become moldy and rancid. However, odds are far more likely that they become stale before that time.
This is why today’s article is so important. We will not only be looking at how rice cakes go bad but also how you can properly store them to maintain their tasty crisp texture for as long as possible.
What Are Rice Cakes And How Do You Store Them?
It may come as a surprise to you, but there are loads of items out there that are referred to as rice cakes.
The type we are specifically talking about today is puffed rice cakes. They are also commonly referred to as rice crackers or American rice cakes.
These differ a ton from other types of rice crackers and rice cakes made across the world. For example, Korean rice cakes (tteokbokki) are a dough-like ingredient used in savory dishes.
Then, you also get Japanese rice crackers (Okaki). These are traditionally made with kiri mochi or fresh mochi. These are almost exactly the same as Korean rice cakes, but instead, they are dried.
So, now that we have covered exactly what we aren’t discussing today, let’s get down to business. Rice cakes, or puffed rice crackers, are a popular snack that comes in hard, flat, circular discs.
They are made with puffed rice. This is a special type of rice found in most Asian cuisines. But, with ingredients being readily available globally, you can find some at your local supermarket.
These crackers aren’t very high in nutrients. However, they do make a fantastic low-calorie vessel for ingredients that are. Rice cakes can be used to serve some peanut butter, fresh sliced vegetables, or some sauce.
But, if you are simply looking for an on-the-go snack, then you can also find these cakes in different flavors. This can include chicken, caramel, salt and vinegar, sour cream and chives, BBQ, and many more.
Do Rice Cakes Go Bad?
Now, if you haven’t already been using rice cakes in your diet, we bet you are about to! But, before you go stocking up on it, there are a couple of things you should know first.
Rice cakes can go bad. We know this is frustrating and a little bit confusing. Aren’t all dried crackers and biscuits supposed to last forever? Well, they do and they don’t.
While it is highly unlikely that your rice cakes will just go bad and grow a bunch of mold, it isn’t a stretch to imagine that they could go stale. And that is exactly what usually ends up happening before the mold gets to them.
So, bottom line is, no matter how hard you try, your rice crackers will never outlive their expiry date. Usually, after the time has elapsed, these cakes have lost their crisp texture, firm consistency, and prominent flavor.
How To Tell If Rice Cakes Have Gone Bad
As we have said before, rice cakes will usually go stale before any other signs of spoilage present themselves.
Nevertheless, nothing is impossible. And under the right circumstances, these crackers could form mold in mere hours!
So, here are all of the possible signs that your rice cakes have gone bad. These signs don’t always appear in any particular order, so be on the lookout for all of them simultaneously.
Stale Rice Cakes
As we have mentioned, rice cakes are likely to go stale before they ever show any other signs of being bad. And, for us, they are the worst ones you can get!
This is because they don’t physically change in any way, it’s just their texture and flavor.
This means you likely only realize they are stale after you have taken a bite! Gross, we know!
Stale rice cakes are caused by exposure to oxygen for a prolonged period of time. Oxygen starts changing the texture and the flavor also gradually disappears.
Mold growth is very possible, but it doesn’t likely happen. For mold to grow on rice cakes, the cakes need to be exposed to a lot of oxygen, moisture, and a nice temperature (which gives them energy).
Unfortunately, once mold has started appearing on your rice cakes, there is almost nothing you can do to stop the growth. Or even save the cakes for that matter!
Any sign of mold and you should immediately discard the rice cake. You could get serious food poisoning from bacteria that grow on food.
This is one of the less likely signs that you will come across. When rice cakes go bad in a specific way (specific bacterial strains grow on them), it could cause the cakes to get a kind of rancid smell.
Rice cakes are naturally almost odorless (unless they have been flavored). So, any changes in the aroma of the cakes and you should start looking for other more tell-tale signs of spoilage.
Usually, puffed rice cakes are pretty white (of a shade of white) and are matt in color.
They will often have shades of light brown between the puffed rice grains. This is a completely normal color.
If you see any change in color on the rice cakes (or even inside them) then you should be wary of simply eating a lot. Color changes could be an indication of bacterial growth. So, always look for other signs of spoilage.
Naturally, if your rice cakes change in flavor, you should look for other signs of spoilage. They will almost definitely be there.
And we aren’t talking out the flavoring spice just becoming a little bland. We are talking about sour flavors and crumbly, gritty, flaky textures.
How To Store Rice Cakes At Room Temperature
If your puffed rice cakes are still closed inside their original packaging, then they are pretty safe to leave at room temperature.
Just make sure that they are stored away from any direct sunlight or heat sources. Keep them in a cool dry place, preferably the food cupboard.
If you have opened your rice cake package, you need to transfer them to an airtight container. A resealable Ziploc bag also works – just make super sure that the bag seals tightly.
Then, you can store the puffed rice cakes in a cool dry place, in the same way, you would closed rice cakes.
How To Properly Store Rice Cakes In The Fridge
Unfortunately, we don’t recommend storing rice cakes inside the fridge. And no, we don’t even have exceptions to this rule.
Rice cakes are supposed to be completely dry. When they come into contact with any type of moisture, their crispy and crunchy texture softens and can even become completely soggy.
Furthermore, their flavor will dilute and even be entirely lost. This is made so much worse when you have a spice coating over your puffed rice cakes. The spice absorbs the moisture, becomes lumpy, and just gives you a gritty texture.
So, why do people often ask this question? Well, they confuse it with the dough-like Korean rice cakes. But again, these two products are completely different in structure, flavor, and ultimately, use and storage methods.
The Shelf Life Of Rice Cakes
So, we have now confidently established that puffed rice cakes can go off. But, as we have also said, they are far less likely to go stale before going rancid or moldy.
Rice cakes can last for up to a year in their original packaging. This time is more than enough to finish the packet before it goes stale. But, again, you will need to properly store the rice crackers in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Can you get rice cakes that aren’t made from puffed rice?
Not all types of rice cakes are made from puffed rice. You can get a ton of different options, especially in Japanese cuisine.
These are either made from pulverized and dried rice grains or simply dehydrated grain cakes. The storage methods for these pretty much stay the same (as well as how to tell when they have gone bad).
Are puffed rice cakes healthy or not?
Puffed rice cakes or crackers shouldn’t be seen as healthy food. This is because they contain virtually no nutrients. But, they are low in calories.
So, what we would recommend is adding healthy toppings to this serving vessel. They will help make you full without adding a lot of calories while doing so.
Can you freeze puffed rice cakes?
Just like you shouldn’t refrigerate puffed rice cakes, you also shouldn’t freeze them. Inside the freezer, they will be exposed to a ton of ice crystals.
When they are eventually thawed, these crystals will melt away and make the rice cake soggy. Not to mention the detrimental effects it will have on the spices on these cakes!