In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “does oatmeal expire” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not oatmeal expires. Moreover, we are going to discuss the shelf life of oatmeal and the proper way to store oatmeal.
So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.
Does oatmeal expire?
Yes, like any other food item oatmeal tends to go bad or in other words expire after a certain time. So after this time, your oatmeal tends to develop off-flavors and off-smell and they won’t have the same flavor profile as that of the fresh oatmeal.
It is worth mentioning that you will find a “best by” or “ best before” date is written on the packet of your oatmeal instead of the expiration date. The “best by” or “best before” date that is written on the package of oatmeal refers to the quality rather than safety so oatmeal doesn’t necessarily go bad immediately after the best before date.
This date refers to the time during which you can enjoy the peak quality and flavor of oatmeal but you can still use oatmeal that is past this date as long as it was stored properly.
Certain indicators point out bad oatmeal. So you can tell whether or not your oatmeal has gone bad by considering its appearance, texture, and smell.
If you spot a mold or organic growth on your uncooked oatmeal (molds can grow on uncooked oatmeal only when it is stored in a humid environment for a long time or moisture somehow found its way to it) then the best thing you can do is to toss out such oatmeal.
If you spot a mold or organic growth on your cooked oatmeal then it is an indication of bad oatmeal and you should discard it.
Moreover, if you see the mold, it is recommended never to smell the oatmeal as molds can produce mycotoxins in it and if you smell such oatmeal the mycotoxins can enter your body via inhalation where they can disrupt your natural microflora and can weaken your immune system.
Moreover, if you spot weevils or bugs in your uncooked oatmeals then it is better to toss such oatmeal out.
The presence of a foul or rotten smell is an indication that oatmeal has gone bad.
If you notice that the uncooked oats have clumped together then it means that it is past its prime time.
Moreover, discoloration in oatmeal is the indication that it is past its prime time.
How long does oatmeal last?
- Instant oatmeal lasts for about 1-2 years past the printed date on the package. It is worth mentioning that you should never store your oatmeal in a humid environment because if somehow moisture finds its way to your oatmeal then it can mess up its quality.
- Flavored/cream instant oatmeal lasts for about 6-9 months past the printed date when stored in a cool,dry, and dark corner of the pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.
- 1-minute oatmeal and 5-minutes oatmeal last for about 2-3 years past the printed date when stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry.
- Steel-cut or Irish oatmeal lasts for about 1-2 years past the printed date if stored in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry away from direct sunlight and heat.
When it comes to the storage of uncooked oatmeal in the fridge or freezer, we do not recommend you to do so as oatmeal already has a long shelf life when kept in a cool, dry, and dark corner of your pantry properly.
Moreover, the moisture content of the fridge and freezer is high and if somehow moisture finds its way to your uncooked oatmeal, it can mess up its quality and can also shorten its shelf life.
Cooked oatmeal lasts for about 4-7 days when stored in a plastic zipper bag or air-tight container in the fridge at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Freezing the cooked oatmeal is not recommended as freezing can significantly change the texture of the cooked oatmeal.
On the other hand, cooked oatmeal lasts for about 2 hours at room temperature. Bacteria grow at a faster pace between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit therefore it is recommended to discard the cooked oatmeal that is left in open for more than 2 hours as there is a great chance that the bacteria would have already spread over it and would have spoiled it.
If the outside temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit then cooked oatmeal lasts for only about an hour when left out in the open.
It is worth mentioning that these figures are just the estimated shelf life of oatmeal and oatmeal can even last longer than this, provided that it is stored properly.
You can read how to cook oatmeal here.
How to properly store oatmeal?
- Moisture is an enemy of the freshness and quality of the uncooked oatmeal therefore uncooked oatmeal should be kept in air-tight containers or air-tight jars to reduce its exposure to air.
- Do not store your uncooked oatmeal in a humid environment.
- Uncooked oatmeal should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cool and dry corner of your pantry can serve this purpose nicely.
- Do not unnecessarily open the lid of the uncooked oatmeal jar or container and seal it again as soon as possible after scooping out the oatmeal that you need.
- Once you have opened the package of uncooked oatmeal, it is recommended to transfer the rest of the uncooked oatmeal in an air-tight container or plastic zipper bag.
- In the case of cooked oatmeal, you should keep it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “does oatmeal expire” with an in-depth analysis of whether or not oatmeal expires. Moreover, we discussed the shelf life of oatmeal and the proper way to store oatmeal.