Do lentils expire?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “do lentils expire” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not lentils expire. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of lentils,  ways to spot bad lentils, and ways to store lentils properly.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Do lentils expire?

To pass a verdict of whether lentils expire or not we have to consider a few factors including what you mean by the expiration of lentils. When the lentils have developed noticeable changes in texture or if mold has grown on them then we can easily regard that lentil as an expired one. So, technically speaking like all other food items lentils also expire and develop off-smell and off-texture after a certain time.

What is the shelf life of lentils? 

Dry lentils last for about 2 to 3 years if they are stored properly in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.

On the other hand, if you have cooked lentils, no matter if they are part of a curry, soup, or anything else, the best you can do is to store them in the fridge in an air-tight container at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked lentils last for about 7 days in the fridge in an air-tight container at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the case of the dried lentils, we do not recommend you to refrigerate or freeze them at all.

In the case of the unopened canned lentils, they last for about 1 to 2 years past their packaging date if it is stored properly and there is no leakage or bulging in the can.

Once you have opened the canned lentils then the leftovers last for about 3-4 days when stored in the fridge properly at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you open the pack in which lentils are stored, it is recommended to transfer the remaining dried lentils in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag and store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. You should never store your lentils in a humid environment as the high moisture content of the humid environment can mess up the quality of dried lentils and can even make them stale.

It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of the lentils and lentils can even last for more than this, provided that they are stored properly.

Are lentils safe to use after the best-before date?

The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the bottle of lentils refers to the quality rather than safety so lentils don’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date. It is the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of lentils but you can still use lentils that are past this date as long as it was stored properly.

Can I store cooked lentils in the freezer? 

You can store your cooked lentils in an air-tight container, plastic freezer bag to preserve their freshness and quality for a long time, but care should be taken in this regard, or otherwise, the moisture content of the lentils will degrade the quality of lentils. But when it comes to dry lentils, freezing them is not a good idea.

How to tell if lentils have gone bad?

Certain indications can point out whether or not your lentils have gone bad. You have to consider the appearance, smell, and condition of the can of lentils to give a final verdict about the lentils.

Appearance

If you spot a mold on your lentils, then the best thing you can do is to get rid of the lentils as it is an indication of bad lentils and if you consume such lentils, it can cause many foodborne illnesses including food poisoning that is characterized by nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps and sometimes even fever.

Smell

In the case of the cooked or canned lentils, if you smell something acidic or sour while taking a sniff test then it is an indication of bad lentils.

Cans

Last but not least if you spot some dent, rust, leakage, or if some is bulging in the can of lentils then you should discard such canned lentils.

How to properly store lentils?

  1. Cooked lentils should be stored in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit in an air-tight container.
  2. On the other hand, an unopened pack of dried lentils or unopened canned lentils can be stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat and it can stay there for quite a long time but you can also store it in the refrigerator to further prolong its shelf life.
  3. You can even freeze the cooked lentils to prolong their shelf life and if you want to do so it is better to store cooked lentils in a plastic freezer bag or heavy-duty freezer container.
  4. Once you open the can of lentils, it is recommended to store the leftovers in the fridge properly.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “do lentils expire” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not lentils expire. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of lentils,  ways to spot bad lentils and ways to store lentils properly.

Citations

https://www.stilltasty.com/fooditems/index/17549

https://www.doesitgobad.com/do-lentils-go-bad/

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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