Dry pasta is one of the favorite food most households have always had in the kitchen. The first pasta dishes were mentioned in writings from 13th-century in Italy, but Medieval Chinese prepared it, as well.
Believe it or not, you can find more than 600 different pasta shapes nowadays! Let’s see, does pasta go bad and what you can do about it.
Does Pasta Go Bad?
Usually, no one worries about how long does pasta last since its shelf life is long when stored appropriately. In general, harmful bacteria won’t start growing in dried pasta since it contains zero moisture. It is often safe to consume even after its expiration date but be prepared to lose its flavor over time.
If the manufacturer adheres to strict quality control during the making process, uses quality ingredients, and stick to high hygiene standards, your pasta won’t spoil quickly.
On the other hand, cooked pasta won’t last more than a few days, especially if you miss storing it adequately. High temperatures and moisture will cause this product to go bad.
How Long Does Pasta Last?
Dry pasta will probably disintegrate rather than decay, depending on its production date, storage temperature and humidity, ingredients it is made of, and way of packaging.
Ideally, you should store it at 65 to 80 F (18 – 27 C) and as low humidity as possible since it is highly porous.
How Long Does Pasta Last (Chart)
|Unopened dry||Up to one year||/|
|Unopened canned||6 months||/|
|/||3 to 4 days||1 to 2 months|
|Cooked (wheat)||/||3 to 4 days|
1 to 2 months
Cooked (lentil, pea, or bean)
|/||3 to 5 days||6 to 8 months|
|Cooked pasta with sauce||/||5 days|
6 to 8 months
|/||1 to 3 days||6 months|
|Fresh homemade||/||3 to 5 days|
|/||3 to 5 days||/|
|/||3 to 5 days|
On the other hand, you need to store fresh pasta in the fridge and eat it within a few days. Once you cook it, leftovers will be edible within a week when kept in the refrigerator or up to eight months when stored in the freezer.
7 Tips to Tell if Pasta Has Gone Bad
In most cases, it is evident if pasta is spoiled or not, and you will see it at first sight. Signs of spoilage are pretty the same for fresh, dried, cooked, and canned products. The first thing to do is to check the package. If it is in perfect condition, you should look at the content. Let’s see.
- Smell – The awful smell of expired fresh pasta or spoiled cooked product is characteristic, and you will determine it effortlessly.
- Color – Any discolorations and white spots over the surface will show you that something is wrong with your food.
- Taste – As I have already mentioned, expired dry pasta taste will worsen over time even though its appearance doesn’t change much. It will become stale and tasteless after a few years of storage. On the other hand, cooked pasta will lose its authentic taste and become inedible after a few days in the fridge.
- Texture – Cooked pasta will probably become slimy and gooey after a few days of storing. It is a characteristic appearance just before the mold formation.
- Damaged can – If you prefer canned pasta, always check the can before using this product. Never use the leaking can or the severely dented and rusted one, especially if there is no liquid inside.
- Pantry bugs or worms – You will rarely see changes on dry pasta since it rarely goes bad. However, you may find small holes in packaging and pantry bugs reproducing in your bag. Always check the opened package stored for a long time before using it to prepare a meal.
- Mold – The occurrence of white clouds or brown and black spots on cooked pasta stored for more than five days means that mold has started growing. You will rarely see these changes on dry pasta except when it is exposed to high humidity.
How to Store Pasta for Longer
Store Dry pasta
The best way to store dry pasta is to keep it in a cold, dark, and dry area like the pantry. The rules are the same for unopened and opened packages. You can choose to leave the product in the original packaging or put it in an airtight container since it is more practical.
That way, you will protect your food from possible humidity and keep it edible for about two years. Never expose pasta to heat and toxic materials, and keep it safe from pantry bugs. In general, there is no need to put this product in the fridge or freezer.
Store Cooked pasta
Always store cooked pasta and possible leftovers in the fridge at 40 F (4 C). Putting it in an airtight bag will prolong food life for a couple of days.
When stored in the freezer, your pasta will be edible for a month or two when you appropriately pack it in a resealable bag or shallow sealed airtight container. You can keep it in such low temperatures even longer, but its taste and quality will decrease.
Don’t forget to cool cooked pasta down before storing it either in the fridge or freezer and toss it with olive oil. That way, you will prevent condensation, bacteria or mold growth, and sticking it to the container. Make sure to move it from the kitchen countertop within two hours.
Store Fresh pasta
Fresh pasta won’t last long because containing eggs, and you should eat it within a week or two before going bad. Once opened, it will last only a few days when packed in a bag or sealed airtight container and stored in the refrigerator. However, you can keep it for one to two months in the freezer without significant quality and taste changes.
Store Homemade pasta
You should always keep your homemade pasta in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent it from drying out. This food doesn’t contain any additives, so that is the best option to inhibit mold growth.
On average, it will be edible and healthy for three to four days. Keep in mind that pasta stored with sauce won’t become mushy so quickly and can last at least one day longer.
Store Pasta leftovers
If some pasta remains after the meal, you have two options to save it. Store leftovers in the fridge for a few days or freeze them when planning to use them within two months.
Always cool prepared food down and pack them in an airtight container to prevent condensation and keep them delicious. Since leftovers usually contain sauce or oil, pasta won’t cling together and may last a bit longer than an unseasoned, cooked one.
Store Canned pasta
Canned (tinned) pasta is a shelf-stable product, but you should store it in a dry and cold area like a kitchen cupboard or pantry. Once opening the can, you can keep it in the fridge.
It’s up to you to store leftovers in the original packaging or transfer it into an airtight container to better preserve the flavor.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Pasta
Eating uncooked pasta may result in Salmonella poisoning since this dish contains egg noodles made of raw eggs. The common symptoms will include upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Well-cooked pasta is healthy and safe for consumption since these bacteria can’t survive the drying process.
However, be careful with old pasta since it can be contaminated and make you sick. In most cases, the foodborne pathogen, Bacillus cereus, grows in such food and causes nausea, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Unfortunately, poorly stored old pasta containing dairy products, eggs, or meat are often exposed to Campylobacter, Listeria, and Clostridium. That is why keeping this food in the refrigerator at 40 F (4.5 C) is vital.
Can You Freeze Pasta?
No matter how strange it may sound to you, you can successfully keep pasta in the freezer. In fact, it is the best option to store cooked pasta, especially homemade ones, to prolong its shelf life. Always put it in an airtight container, close it well, and place it in the freezer.
Freezing is an acceptable but unnecessary way to keep dry pasta, but you can do that if you find it necessary. Use a freezer-safe container and place an original packaging inside. That way, an extra layer will protect this food from frost.
Some manufacturers don’t recommend freezing dried pasta inside the freezer because it can quickly pick up excess moisture, which will reduce its taste and quality.
Keep in mind that thawed cooked pasta quality will also decrease over time, depending on the added sauce type and other ingredients.
When you store tightly sealed pasta properly, it will last quite long. The crucial thing is to keep it safe from bugs and worms and store cooked portions in the fridge. Remember that dried pasta can looks intact and edible, but its taste will be disturbed after two years.