Does quinoa need to be refrigerated?
In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does quinoa need to be refrigerated?”, and tell you how to properly store it. We will also tell you if you can freeze quinoa and the proper way to defrost it. We will also discuss the shelf life of quinoa and mention how to spot quinoa that has gone bad.
Does quinoa need to be refrigerated?
Yes, cooked quinoa needs to be refrigerated.
Cooked quinoa typically maintains its quality for up to 7 days in the fridge, but it is advisable to consume it sooner for the best taste and freshness. To ensure food safety in accordance with USDA guidelines, it is recommended to refrigerate cooked quinoa within 2 hours of preparation.
To extend the shelf life of cooked quinoa, it is important to avoid storing it in frequently accessed parts of the refrigerator, such as the door.
The constant exposure to temperature changes when opening the refrigerator door can gradually decrease the quinoa’s shelf life. (1, 2)
When it comes to uncooked quinoa, several factors influence its nutritional quality during storage.
These factors include moisture content, grain temperature, as well as the temperature and relative humidity of the storage environment.
Maintaining consistent temperatures is crucial for preserving the quality of the grains. Additionally, controlling moisture content is vital for preserving the nutritional value during storage.
Wet quinoa is more susceptible to spoilage and fungal infections compared to dry quinoa, highlighting the importance of moisture control, particularly when storing quinoa in the fridge. (3)
Can you freeze quinoa?
Yes, you can freeze quinoa.
When storing uncooked quinoa, consistency in temperature is key to preserving its quality.
Several factors impact the nutritional quality of quinoa during storage, including moisture content, grain temperature, and the temperature and relative humidity of the storage environment.
Storage temperatures play a significant role in maintaining the quality of the grains. Additionally, moisture content is of utmost importance when it comes to preserving the nutritional value during storage.
Wet grains are more prone to spoilage and fungal infections compared to dry grains. (3)
When it comes to storing cooked quinoa, the first step is to determine how long you intend to store it.
It is important to store cooked quinoa in an airtight container. Freezer bags or plastic wraps can also be used for this purpose. When properly stored in the freezer, cooked quinoa can potentially last for 8-10 months.
When you need to use frozen quinoa, it is best and recommended to defrost it overnight in the refrigerator. The fridge provides a consistent and even temperature throughout the night, minimizing the risk of contamination.(4)
How long does quinoa last?
Cooked quinoa should be placed in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed in 4 to 7 days. Frozen quinoa lasts for approximately 10 months. (1, 3)
Quinoa seeds exhibit an orthodox behavior, which means that mature seeds can be stored for extended periods without losing their viability, given they are stored within suitable temperature and humidity conditions.(5)
When stored under normal ambient conditions, orthodox seeds have a half-life ranging from 5 to 10 years. However, when stored in more favorable conditions characterized by low humidity and low temperature, the half-life of orthodox seeds extends to a range of 40 to 60 years. (6)
When it comes to uncooked quinoa, it should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place away from sunlight and stovetops. Maintaining a consistent temperature is essential to preserve its quality.
For storing cooked quinoa, it is recommended to place it in an airtight container before refrigerating. This helps maintain its freshness and prevents absorption of odors from other foods in the refrigerator.
Storage temperatures play a significant role in preserving the quality of the grain. Additionally, maintaining proper moisture content is essential for preserving the nutritional quality of quinoa during storage.
Wet grains are more prone to spoilage and fungal infections compared to dry grains.
Steaming is considered a more conservative cooking method compared to boiling, so it is recommended to use steaming whenever possible for quinoa preparation.
When it comes to cooked foods, they should be consumed immediately or stored for a short time at a temperature higher than 63 ºC (145 ºF).
Alternatively, they should be rapidly cooled and kept below 7–8 ºC (45–46 ºF), ideally below 4 ºC (39 ºF), to minimize the risk of contamination.(1, 3, 7)
How to tell if quinoa has gone bad?
There are several signs to watch for indicating that quinoa has spoiled. If cooked quinoa has an unusually hard or slimy texture, it is a strong indication of spoilage.
In such cases, it is advisable to discard it immediately to avoid any potential health risks.
Another clear sign of spoilage is the presence of mold growth or any discolorations on the cooked quinoa. It is important not to consume quinoa in such cases, as it may pose health hazards.
Quinoa, like other cereal grains and oilseeds, is susceptible to fungal growth and potential contamination with mycotoxins. Improper storage conditions can contribute to spoilage. (8)
What are the risks of eating spoiled quinoa?
Consuming spoiled quinoa poses certain risks to your health. The most common outcome of consuming spoiled quinoa is mild food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning may include headaches, vomiting, stomachaches, and diarrhea.
Additional symptoms could involve a general loss of appetite and feelings of nausea. Typically, these symptoms should resolve within a day or two. However, if the symptoms persist for a longer duration, it is important to seek medical attention.(1, 9)
Other FAQs about Quinoa that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does quinoa need to be refrigerated?”, and told you how to properly store it. We also told you if you can freeze quinoa and the proper way to defrost it. We also discussed the shelf life of quinoa and mentioned how to spot quinoa that has gone bad.
- BM Lund, SJ O’Brien, Public Health Measures: Food Safety in Hospitals and Other Healthcare Settings, Encyclopedia of Food Safety, Academic Press, 2014, 140-148.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://ask.usda.gov/ Website. Washington, DC. What is the “2 Hour Rule” with leaving food out?.
- Hakan Kibar, Ferit Sönmez, Süleyman Temel, Effect of storage conditions on nutritional quality and color characteristics of quinoa varieties, Journal of Stored Products Research, 91, 2021.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://www.fsis.usda.gov/ Website. Washington, DC. Freezing and Food Safety. 2013.
- Castellión, M., Matiacevich, S., Buera, P., & Maldonado, S. Protein deterioration and longevity of quinoa seeds during long-term storage. Food Chemistry, 121(4), 952–958. 2010.
- Solberg Svein Øivind, et. al. Long-Term Storage and Longevity of Orthodox Seeds: A Systematic Review Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 2020.
- Mhada, M.; Metougui, M.L.; El Hazzam, K.; El Kacimi, K.; Yasri, A. Variations of Saponins, Minerals and Total Phenolic Compounds Due to Processing and Cooking of Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) Seeds. Foods 2020, 9, 660
- U. Pappier et al.Effect of processing for saponin removal on fungal contamination of quinoa seeds (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) International Journal of Food Microbiology 125 153–157. 2008.
- Food Safety https://www.foodsafety.gov/