Quinoa has been becoming everyone’s favorite ‘whole grain’. And there is a reason for that as quinoa tastes good, it’s versatile and extraordinarily healthy. But what is the shelf life of cooked quinoa?
How long does quinoa last in the fridge? Cooked quinoa stored in the fridge in an airtight container or bag has a shelf life of 4 to 7 days. If you want cooked quinoa to last longer, store it in the freezer where it will keep well for up to 12 months.
In this article, you will learn everything about the storage conditions and shelf life of uncooked and cooked quinoa as well as how to detect bad quinoa.
Does Quinoa Go Bad?
Quinoa is a healthy seed often classified as a whole grain. As soon as you learn about the benefits of quinoa, you may get so excited to buy a lot of it when you see it in your local supermarket.
As quinoa is becoming more and more popular as a ‘supergrain’ and health food, it is surely good to stock up on a few packages of quinoa.
But does quinoa go bad? Yes, quinoa does go bad whether it is cooked or raw. Quinoa comes with a ‘Best by’ date. However, it will go bad sooner if you fail to provide proper storage conditions.
How Can You Tell If Quinoa Is Bad?
When it comes to signs of spoilage, detecting bad quinoa when it is uncooked is not easy. In rare cases, you may notice an off-putting smell, mold, or bugs in the bag with uncooked quinoa.
Most often, you can decide whether the quinoa is still good or not after cooking it. Cook the quinoa and if you notice changes in texture or an off odor, then your bag of uncooked quinoa should be discarded. Bad quinoa seeds also cook to become hard and stale.
As for cooked quinoa, deciding whether it is still good for consumption or not is a little less difficult. Here are the signs of spoilage for cooked quinoa.
- An off-putting smell
- Mold in the container with quinoa or quinoa itself
- Hard texture
If any of these signs are present, discard the cooked quinoa. Additionally, if there seem to be no signs of spoilage but you have had the container with cooked quinoa in the fridge for longer than a week, discard it anyway.
How to Store Quinoa
When it comes to uncooked quinoa, the storage rules are quite straightforward and the same as for all other dried goods.
Firstly, you should keep quinoa dry. As with all dried goods, moisture is the number one enemy of quinoa.
Secondly, you should keep it in a tightly sealed container to prevent any pests from getting into it. If the original bag quinoa comes in is damaged, made of paper, or not airtight, transfer the seeds into an airtight container.
Lastly, keep quinoa in a dark and cool place to preserve its best qualities. It is not recommended to keep quinoa near heat sources or in a room where the temperature fluctuates.
As for cooked quinoa, it should always go into the fridge.
How to Store Quinoa in the Fridge
When storing cooked quinoa in the fridge, follow these steps to maximize its shelf life.
- First, let the quinoa cool off. It may take the quinoa around 20 minutes to completely cool.
- Transfer the quinoa into a container or freezer bag for space-efficient storage.
- Cover the container with a tight-fitting lid. If you are using a bag, make sure to push out the excess air and securely seal the container.
- Label the container or the plastic bag with the date and store it in the fridge.
If you decide to reheat some of the quinoa stored in the fridge, reheat only as much as you will be eating.
Taking the quinoa out of the fridge, reheating it, and putting it back into the fridge multiple times will cause the cooked seeds to deteriorate in quality.
Does Cooked Quinoa Go Bad in Fridge?
The shelf life of cooked quinoa stored in the fridge is limited.
Even if you store the cooked seeds in the fridge properly, quinoa will eventually go bad. Providing all the necessary storage conditions will only maximize the shelf life of cooked quinoa in the fridge and preserve its best flavor and texture qualities.
Can You Refrigerate Leftover Quinoa?
You should refrigerate leftover quinoa only if it hasn’t been sitting at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Past that time, bacteria can form in the quinoa.
You may eat quinoa that has been left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours and be fine. However, it is always safe to follow the two-hour rule and eliminate the risks of food-borne illness.
Can You Freeze Quinoa?
When cooking quinoa, you end up with three times as much cooked quinoa compared to what you started with it. This is one of the reasons why people end up with more cooked quinoa than they will be able to eat within a few days.
Whether you have accidentally cooked too much quinoa or simply want to have it ready in your fridge at all times, you can freeze cooked quinoa.
Here’s how to cook and freeze quinoa:
- Rinse the quinoa under running water and drain it. This step is essential if you want to get rid of the bitterness of the seeds.
- Add the quinoa into the saucepan with water. The quinoa to water ratio should be 1:2. Let the mixture boil over medium heat for about 20 minutes until the seeds absorb all the water.
- Once you have turned off the heat, let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes. Then fluff the quinoa and season it with salt.
- Divide the quinoa into portions you want to freeze it in and let it cool down. Dividing a large batch of quinoa into smaller portions will prevent you from wasting any of it.
- Once the quinoa has cooled down, transfer it into airtight containers or heavy-duty zip-top bags. Zip-top bags are a better option if you want to save some space in your freezer.
- Label the bags with the date and put the quinoa in the freezer.
Using Frozen Cooked Quinoa
To use cooked quinoa that you have frozen, transfer it from the freezer into the fridge and let it thaw there overnight. While thawing quinoa at room temperature would be quicker, doing it is not recommended as harmful bacteria can grow in the food.
If you are in a hurry and need to quickly defrost frozen quinoa, you can either microwave it or reheat the quinoa in a non-stick pan. When microwaving the quinoa, add some water to it to prevent it from drying out.
You can also defrost and reheat frozen quinoa by steaming it. However, this method of reheating quinoa is rather time-consuming.
Note: Quinoa thawed in the fridge can be used within 3 to 4 days. Quinoa thawed in the microwave or on the stovetop should be consumed immediately.
How Long Does Quinoa Last?
The shelf life of quinoa is determined by multiple factors, including the quality of the seeds and storage conditions.
How Long Does Uncooked Quinoa Last?
The shelf life of uncooked quinoa is quite long if it has been packaged and stored properly. All quinoa varieties – white, black, and red, have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years.
When buying quinoa, make sure to check the ‘Best by’ date on the packaging. Although this date doesn’t suggest that you should throw out the quinoa when it is past it, it is always good to know how long the manufacturer recommends you keep the quinoa.
Properly stored quinoa will last longer than the date on the packaging suggests. But uncooked quinoa doesn’t show many obvious signs of spoilage.
So, it is good to follow the ‘Best by’ date and the manufacturer’s storage recommendations if you are not sure how long the package has been sitting on the shelves of the supermarket.
Additionally, while uncooked quinoa may remain safe for consumption months and even years past the printed date, the sooner you use it the more flavorful it will be.
How Long Does Cooked Quinoa Last?
As mentioned earlier, cooked quinoa should be refrigerated or frozen to prevent it from going bad.
Cooked quinoa stored in the fridge in an airtight container has a shelf life of 4 to 7 days. This, along with its health benefits, makes quinoa an excellent ingredient for meal prep.
As the freezer slows down the deterioration process of quinoa, cooked quinoa can last up to 12 months in the freezer. If the temperature in your freezer is stable, quinoa may remain safe for consumption past that time too.
However, we recommend using frozen cooked quinoa within 8 to 12 months at most as the flavor and texture will start to deteriorate quicker past that time.
Up Next: Can You Reheat Quinoa?