Does pasta ever go bad? While it lasts a long time, it loses its taste and nutrition eventually. What is the shelf life of pasta?
Most of the time, pasta is still safe to eat after a decade. However, decade-old pasta won't taste good at all, nor will it have a lot of nutrients left in it. Expired pasta usually isn't dangerous to eat, but it does taste bad.
Pasta can keep its taste, color, and nutrition for about two years. Some types of pasta last longer than others, with whole-grain and gluten-free varieties going bad faster. There are ways to make pasta stay good for much longer than two years.
There is no reason to put your dry pasta in the fridge or freezer. However, you can put the pasta in an airtight mylar bag if you want to keep it good for as long as possible.
I have had pasta go bad in much less than two years and had it last for much more. If you store it properly (mylar bags are the best choice), it will be as good as new after several years. If you let moisture come into contact with pasta, it will get moldy and become dangerous to eat quickly.
How Long Does Dry Pasta Last?
Usually, the limit is about two years. Any longer than that, and it might not taste as good or have the same nutritional value. Some types of pasta last longer than others:
- Semolina Pasta usually only lasts for two years but sometimes lasts for ten years in the pantry with no special storage techniques.
- Vegetable pasta (pasta with natural vegetable flavors) is reasonably good for two years, though it may lose a bit of nutrition before then.
- Egg pasta often lasts for two years, but that is at the higher end. It may absorb smells, discolor, or lose nutrients before then.
- Whole-grain pasta may become rancid, so it may only take a year and not two years to expire. The natural oils make the pasta go bad faster.
- While some types of gluten-free pasta last the usual two years, others go bad much faster because of their ingredients. Flax pasta, for example, has more oil in it and will go bad quickly.
How Long Does Cooked Pasta Last?
Since cooked pasta is full of water, it can be attacked by bacteria. It is not a long-lasting food and will go bad in four or five days even if you keep it in the fridge.
If you freeze and then thaw some cooked pasta, that will ruin the texture, and it won't be good to eat at all. You should always eat cooked pasta not long after you make it, or you will have to throw it away.
How Long Does Fresh Pasta Last?
Fresh pasta goes bad even faster than cooked pasta. Keep it in the fridge and don't leave it out, especially not in hot weather. Like milk, meat, mayonnaise, and eggs, it spoils quickly.
How Does Dry Pasta Go Bad?
When people talk about dry pasta "going bad," they do not mean it rots and becomes unsafe to eat. Instead, they only mean that the quality of the food is much lower. Pasta that has been left on a pantry shelf for several years will taste bad and no longer offer any nutrition.
Dry pasta doesn't rot the way perishable food does. Bacteria have very little or no power to grow on dry pasta, and mold won't grow either. Dry pasta will only become moldy if it is exposed to moisture.
Does Dry Pasta Become Rancid?
Most types of dry pasta won't become rancid the way cooking oils do. Rancidity is oxidation - the fats in the cooking oil mix with oxygen, making the oil smell and taste bad. With most types of pasta, this doesn't happen, no matter how long you leave it out in the air.
However, some types of pasta are different and will become rancid. Some types of pasta have more oil in them than others. The natural oil can become rancid if exposed to the air for long enough.
Does Dry Pasta Go Bad if Exposed to Moisture?
Yes, if you store dry pasta in a damp environment, it can become moldy and rot. Normally, dry pasta never rots, but it will rot if you expose it to an unusual amount of moisture it might.
If you have ever had any problems with moisture leading to moldy pasta, try storing your pasta somewhere other than the kitchen. Cooking releases a lot of moisture that might affect your pasta, though it usually will not.
Is Old Pasta Less Nutritious?
Yes, dry pasta will lose nutrients over time. If you use a decade-old bag of dry pasta, it will be less nutritious as well as less tasty. This isn't good in an emergency, so you should probably replace your pasta periodically.
Can Insects Eat Pasta?
Yes, there is the possibility of insect infestation. Usually, you can keep your pasta in the pantry for years and never have an insect problem. However, some insects are capable of eating pasta.
Will Old Pasta Taste Much Different?
Yes, old pasta may smell and taste different, even if it is still safe to eat. The pasta may absorb odors from whatever is around it, especially other food. The nutritional depletion will also make pasta less tasty even if it is still safe to eat.
Should You Put Dry Pasta in the Fridge or Freezer?
No, there is never any reason to put dry pasta in the fridge or freezer. Other foods benefit from refrigeration because the cold temperature makes bacteria grow very slowly.
Since pasta usually doesn't lose quality due to bacteria, there is no real reason to put it in the fridge. Save room in your fridge/freezer by storing your pasta in the pantry.
If you want to take special measures to keep your pasta good for as long as possible, keep it in vacuum-sealed bags, not in your fridge or freezer.
How to Store Dry Pasta for a Long Time
With special storage techniques, you can make dry pasta last for much longer than two years. The trick is to store it in an airtight container, as you might also store sugar or flour. This will protect your pasta from moisture and help it last for years.
Mylar bags are one of the best ways to store food, including pasta, for a long time. Mylar is airtight, durable, and reflects light, so it is a great material. People use mylar to store rice, beans, flour, and pasta.
As long as they are airtight, jars also work. If you keep the moisture out completely, there won't be any way for mold to grow. Jars and other containers will also protect your pasta from insects.
Most plastic containers don't have airtight lids, so they are not usually a good choice. Glass jars, though they can break, are more effective.
A large bucket with an airtight lid is one of the best ideas. You can store a lot of pasta in a few large buckets, and it may still be good after at least a few years.
Use Multiple Containers
If you want to take things a step further, you might put containers inside of other containers. For example, you could put the pasta in vacuum-sealed bags and then put the bags in buckets with airtight lids. You can also use oxygen absorbers to preserve food, including pasta.
Should You Freeze Pasta Before You Store It?
Usually, that isn’t necessary and isn’t worth the time. With some foods, there is a chance that there are some tiny insect eggs in the original packaging. Freezing the food will kill the insect eggs and make your food last longer.
However, this is not necessary with pasta because there are unlikely to be any insect eggs in the original package. Pasta has already been treated to kill insect eggs.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker