How long can you store lentils?

This article will answer the question “How long can you store lentils?” and how to store dry and cooked lentils?

How long can you store lentils?

Dried lentils 

Dried lentils have a shelf-life of 2-3 years. If stored correctly, lentils last 1-2 years past the printed date. However, the older the lentils, the poorer the nutrition profile.

Cooked lentils 

Cooked lentils last a maximum of 1 week and a minimum of 3-5 days in the fridge, If stored correctly. The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of lentils under different storage conditions.

Canned lentils 

An unopened can of lentils has an indefinite shelf-life provided that you follow the storage instructions carefully. Generally, canned lentils do not require refrigeration. 

They can sit in a dry, dark, and cool place with a stable temperature as long as the can is unopened. After opening the can, the lentils must be kept in the fridge just like the cooked lentils. It will preserve the lentils for about a week at maximum. 

The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of cooked lentils in the fridge and n the freezer.

Dry storage 1 year from the date the package is opened
Cooked and refrigerated 3–5 days on average, 1 week maximum
Cooked and frozen 6+ months 

How to store dry lentils?

Dry lentils will last years past their printed date if kept quality. However, old lentils will have a poor nutritional profile. Particularly, the vitamin content of the old lentils will be very poor compared to that of the new lentils.

The best-by date printed on the label is an estimate for how long the manufacturer thinks that the lentils will remain in their peak quality. Lentils remain safe beyond this date If they are stored correctly. 

These dates are very strict to protect the company from any legal trials in case of food safety complaints. So, it’s basically the company playing safe. 

The best way to store dried lentils is to keep them in a cool, dry, and dark place away from heat sources and bugs. A kitchen cabinet or a pantry is a good storage place. 

If the original package is not resealable, consider transferring the lentils to an air-tight container or a freezer bag after tearing open the original package. 

How to store cooked lentils?

Refrigerate or freeze cooked lentils within 2 hours of cooking. Let the lentils reach room temperature before packing away or else the steam buildup will lead to spoilage. 

Use a shallow air-tight container or freezer bag to store cooked lentils. To minimize air exposure especially If there’s a lot of unexpected headspace in the container, pack the lentils with a sheet of plastic on top. Similarly, squeeze as much air as possible from the freezer bag before freezing.

Can you freeze cooked lentils?

Yes, you can freeze cooked lentils. Freezing will extend the shelf-life of cooked lentils. It works best if the lentils are to be pureed after thawing since the texture becomes somewhat mushy.

Pro tip: Leave the lentils slightly undercooked If they are to be frozen. This will prevent the lentils from becoming mushy after thawing and reheating. 

Do dried lentils go bad?

Degraded quality and vitamin content are common with old lentils. But dry lentils rarely go bad unless you help them. Following are some of the signs that confirm the spoilage of dry lentils. 

Insect infestation: If you notice insects in the package of lentils, whether one or two, dead or alive, it is better to discard these lentils. 

Off-putting smell: The funny smell comes from the growth of molds in the lentils. But rancidity also makes the lentils smell bad. In either case, It is best to discard the lentils.

Mold: Mold is an obvious spoilage sign and moldy lentils should be thrown away without any second thoughts. Mold growth indicates that the lentils were exposed to moisture. 

How to freeze cooked lentils?

This method of freezing is particularly helpful if the lentils are to be consumed whole after thawing. Follow the steps below:

  1. Spread the cooked, drained, and cooled lentils in a single layer onto a baking tray lined with baking paper. 
  1. Slide the tray into the freezer. Pre-freeze the lentils for 1-2 hours. Pre-freezing is not needed if the lentils are to be pureed after thawing.
  1. Empty the tray into a freezer bag with a tight seal. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and label it before chucking it into the freezer.

Conclusion

This article answered the question “How long can you store lentils?” and how to store dry and cooked lentils?

References

https://foodsguy.com/how-long-cooked-lentils-last/
https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Cooking-And-Food/Legumes,-Soy,-Nuts-and-Seeds/All-About-Lentils.aspx#:~:text=Store%20dried%20lentils%20in%20an,for%20up%20to%206%20months.

Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.