Tofu is a great meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans. It is a good source of protein and one of the most versatile foods you can use to prepare many dishes. Now, you may wonder does tofu goes bad or how long does tofu last. Let’s see.
Does Tofu Go Bad?
Tofu is a highly nutritious soy product with only 80 calories per 3 ounces (85 g). Manufacturers make it from curdled milk, which means it has an expiration date just like any other dairy food.
Unfortunately, tofu can go bad. Once you open it, tofu has a short shelf life since it is prone to bacterial growth. The good news is that you can prolong its duration by storing it properly.
How Long Does Tofu Last?
Generally, you need to keep tofu in the fridge even if you haven’t opened the package. The best before date is a pretty good indicator of its duration. In other words, you shouldn’t use it for more than a week after the expiration date.
However, you can find shelf-stable tofu in aseptic packaging. It is safe to store this type of tofu unopened in your pantry for two to three months. Once you open it, you need to keep it in the refrigerator and use it within 3 to 5 days after opening, regardless of the expiration date.
The same goes for homemade tofu if you prefer it. Storing it in your pantry is unsafe because it doesn’t contain additives that prevent spoilage, unlike purchased tofu. Keep the homemade tofu in an airtight container in your fridge maximum of five days after making it. Plus, you need to store any cooked meal containing tofu in the fridge.
How Long Does Tofu Last (Chart)
|Unopened||2 to 3 months||One week|
3 to 5 months
|Unsafe||3 to 5 days||3 to 5 months|
|Homemade||Unsafe||3 to 5 days|
3 to 5 months
7 Tips to Tell if Tofu has Gone Bad
As long as you store tofu properly, it will remain safe for consumption up to the expiration date. Nevertheless, some indicators occur when it has spoiled. Always throw it away in such a case.
- Package – If you notice that the tofu pack is bloated, discard it since a bacteria colony has formed inside. As a result, the bag is full of accumulated pressure-creating gas.
- Smell – Fresh tofu has a mild and neutral scent. If you open the container to change the water and feel a rancid, acidic odor, don’t use it.
- Color – Spoiled tofu becomes discolored or turns yellowish or even darker. Either way, don’t eat it.
- Texture – The change in texture is a sign that tofu is not edible anymore. If you notice that the surface becomes slime or the tofu has clotted, get rid of it rather than risk your health.
- Taste – Tofu is versatile because of its neutral flavor and therefore desirable for preparing savory dishes, desserts, and soups. If you feel a strange, bitter, or sour taste when you take a bite, you can be sure that it has gone bad.
- Water – The water for storing tofu should remain clear. Once it becomes cloudy, mushy, or with brown lumps in it, you can be sure that there is an undesirable organic growth inside. Discard such tofu since it is not edible anymore.
- Mold – Although some types of cheese contain desirable mold, it is not the case with tofu. The occurrence of black, brown, or green spots on tofu means it has gone bad. Don’t eat it since you may consequently suffer from digestive problems.
How to Store Tofu for Longer
Tofu is a potentially dangerous, easily perishable dairy product if contaminated by improper storage or in contact with other foods. However, there are some tips you can apply to keep it safe from spoiling.
You can store only unopened tofu on a shelf outside the fridge. Still, you need to pick out the right spot, even in that case. Place it in a dark corner, away from sunlight and draft. Once you open it, transfer it to the fridge.
You can only keep open tofu at room temperature for about half an hour to an hour during food preparation or having a meal. After that, the tofu can degrade and go bad.
There are many types of tofu, including silky, firm, and spongy. You can keep all of them in the fridge up to the used by date. Once opening the pack, it will spoil in a matter of days. Still, you can keep tofu safe a little longer, thanks to the following tricks.
- Boiled tofu – When opening the tofu, wash it under a stream of cold water, drain it well, and put it in a container for storing it appropriately. Then, pour boiling water over it and put it in the fridge when cooling down. With this trick, you will prevent the fermentation and extend its shelf life by up to five days.
- Submerging in water – As long as you store tofu, it needs to stay soaked in liquid. Initially, you should place it in a container filled with boiled water, and then change all the liquid every day. It is necessary to keep tofu in fresh, clean water. Some chefs recommend adding a pinch of salt to preserve it longer but keep in mind that it will slightly change the taste.
- Glass container – It is crucial to check tofu daily, although you don’t plan to consume it. Use the glass container and examine tofu condition without getting it out and exposing it to other refrigerated food odor. Plus, it is easier to change the water regularly.
- Sealing – Don’t forget to tightly seal the tofu every time before putting it back in the fridge. If you don’t have vacuum sealing lids, use airtight dishes to avoid contaminating tofu with bacteria.
You can freeze the whole tofu pack if you wish, but don’t use an original package for storing. The high percentage of water in the tofu causes it to expand as it freezes, and the container can shatter depending on the material it is made of.
Instead, open it, drain all the water, and place the tofu on a cake sheet covered with a paper towel. Once it has no excess water, you can put it in a freezer bag or an airtight container and freeze.
In rare cases, severe tofu poisoning was reported. This food may contain Escherichia coli or some other pathogenic bacterium due to unsanitary storage conditions.
Remember to wash your hands thoroughly before handling tofu and keep the container clean. Plus, don’t use the same utensils to prepare tofu and other meal ingredients. Using separate knives for cutting vegetables and tofu can save it from going bad prematurely.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Tofu
Tofu will go bad after its expiration date pass since most people keep it submerged in water, prone to spoilage. As a result, pathogenic microorganisms can grow in it and cause health problems.
Although it may happen, food poisoning as a result of tofu consumption is uncommon. Eating expired tofu can lead to mild discomfort such as gas, bloating, and similar digestive issues.
However, there is a particular risk of Listeria monocytogenes infection if you consume raw tofu instead of preparing it in a dish. These bacteria can cause diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, and fever. Usually, the symptoms of Listeriosis appear after one to four weeks after consumption.
Can You Freeze Tofu?
Tofu is a food that freezes quickly. You can keep it in the freezer for three to four months. It will be safe to consume even after a year of storing, but the quality of its taste and texture decrease over time.
If you want to freeze it, divide the package of tofu into smaller portions that you can use separately. It is not recommended to freeze it again once you thaw it.
Remove water from the container and use a tofu press to drain all the water before slicing it. Next, wrap each piece in plastic or self-adhesive foil. You can also use smaller zip lock bags for this purpose.
Once you need it, take the tofu out of the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator the night before. Don’t leave it on a kitchen counter because it can go bad at room temperature. Plus, thawed tofu will release moisture and make a mess in your kitchen quickly.
If you intend to cook a dish with tofu, you don’t need to thaw it. Instead, just put a frozen slice in a pot. On the other hand, you should thaw it when you plan to deep-fry it, marinate it, or use it in salads.
Tofu is a very healthy food that can replace meat in many dishes, but it can go bad quickly. Once you open it, you can store it in the fridge for less than a week. Be careful since spoiled tofu can cause many health problems.