Flaxseed is a type of seed used in loaves of bread, muffins, and even shakes and smoothies. It’s healthy and a great source of fiber. Flaxseed has a high concentration of Omega-3 and anti-inflammatory fatty acids which are important for cardiovascular health.
Flaxseed boosts human metabolism because of the high fiber content. Modern medicine confirmed the benefits of flax to the human digestive system in the 20th century. However, it was used as a natural laxative for centuries before that.
Most recipes that require flaxseed need a spoonful or two. On the other hand, flaxseed is packed in a rather large bag. If you don’t use it very often, you might be wondering does flaxseed expire. If you want to know does flaxseed go bad, how long does it last or how to store it – read our article to find out!
Does Flaxseed Expire?
Flaxseed is a useful food ingredient. It gives food a fuller taste and it makes food look more aesthetically pleasing (like chia seeds). Most foods have a shelf life, but does flaxseed expire, too?
The answer is:
Flaxseed can expire. Flax seeds have a long shelf life, but at some point, they will go bad. The shelf life is mostly impacted by how heavily processed the product is.
The flaxseed expires because of polyunsaturated fats content. Unsaturated fats degrade rather quickly (compared to other fats) because of a process called oxidation. Oxidation is a process when the oxygen breaks down fatty acids, turning them rancid. Because the fatty acids found in flaxseed turn rancid, the flaxseed goes bad as well.
To make sure you get the most out of your bag of flax, follow the instructions on the label and the advice in this article. This way, you will get the most out of your food.
How Long Does Flaxseed Last?
Flaxseed’s shelf life is vastly influenced by the amount of processing. Flaxseed can be bought in whole grains or ground, and you can find flaxseed oil on the market, too. Ground flaxseed and flaxseed oil have a shorter shelf life because they’re exposed to oxidation more than whole grains of flaxseed (because the hull is broken).
When it comes to whole grains of flaxseed, the shelf life is around one to two years after the date of production. The bag usually has a best-by date printed on the label. A best-by date means that the quality can be guaranteed by the company up to that date. After that time, the product may degrade in quality over time. Whole flax seeds can be used for six months up to a year after the best-by date. The same applies to unopened and opened bags of whole grains.
A flax meal, also known as ground flaxseed, has a shorter shelf life compared to whole grains. Grinding the seeds breaks the hull and it gives better access to oxygen, starting the oxidation process. Therefore, they last a shorter while – use them within one to three months past the best-by date, provided you keep the bag unopened.
Once you open the bag, you should use up all the content within three months. After that, the seeds may lose their quality and even turn rancid.
This is one of the products you should avoid buying in bulk. Even if it’s on sale, flax meal gradually loses quality over time and it’s not useful health-wise as it was months ago. Try to figure out how much you need for three to six months, and buy no more than that.
How To Store Flaxseed?
Proper storage and care of any food product guarantee you get the most out of it. It’s very important to pay attention to the instructions on the label to make sure your product doesn’t go bad too soon.
Furthermore, the first thing to keep in mind when storing flax seeds is the package. Choose an opaque bag of flax rather than a transparent one. The sun rays or light, in general, can affect the quality of your seeds. This applies to whole grains and ground flaxseed, as well.
So, the whole grains are pretty easy to store. You can store them on the counter, the cabinets, or the pantry – doesn’t matter. The room temperature is fine, just place it away from direct sunlight.
Once you open it, you can use something to seal the bag or transfer the contents into an airtight container. That way, moisture or humidity cannot get inside and the contents will retain freshness longer.
Ground flaxseed needs some extra care compared to the whole grains. Store flax meal in a cool and dry place – like the pantry. Make sure to store it away from a window or sources of heat like a radiator – as they can affect the wellness of the flax meal.
When opened, a flax meal should be sealed tightly or transferred into an airtight container or jar. Also, store it in the refrigerator to make sure it stays fresh longer.
Flax seeds can be frozen to further prolong their shelf life. If you decide on freezing the flax seeds, always take out as much as you need for this meal or drink. Thawing the flaxseed many times can make it turn rancid quicker than usual.
Another thing to remember: when you grind the flax seeds on your own, the same rules apply. Keep it sealed in the fridge for the best results. We recommend grinding the amount of flax you plan to use in the next two to three weeks. The fresher the flaxseed is, the more health benefits it has. We recommend using a small coffee grinder to grind the flax seeds.
How To Check If Flaxseed Has Gone Bad?
Flaxseed has a rather long shelf life. With basic care and proper storage, it lasts for quite a time. However, every bag of flaxseed or flax meal will eventually expire.
If you have a bag of flax seeds you’re not sure about using because it might have gone bad, take a few moments beforehand to examine it. Open the bag and look at the grains.
Flaxseed hardly ever gets mold or mildew. But, if it happens, just throw out the entire bag – and check the pantry or cupboard for mold, too. If it looks fine, smell the contents of the bag or container. Flaxseed usually has a pleasant nutty smell, but when it’s spoiled, it has a rancid smell, resembling fish. Any off-putting smells are a warning sign that your flax meal has expired.
Eating spoiled flaxseed is not likely to make you seriously ill. At worst, it will cause an upset stomach. Usually, people add flax seeds to their meals because of health benefits. Spoiled flax doesn’t have any – so it might be best to make sure your grains are up to date.
Additionally, if the flax meal looks and smells fine, eat a little. If it tastes sour or just not right, the grains have probably turned rancid and you should discard them.
Does Flaxseed Expire – Conclusion
Flaxseed is a type of grain with many health benefits. For people on a restricted diet, this is the perfect addition to a smoothie – it boosts metabolism, making weight loss easier. Flax meal is usually packed in a large bag, and it can take a long time before you use it up.
So, does flaxseed expire? Yes, it does. Whole grains stay fresh for up to two years, and an unopened bag of ground flax is fresh for up to three months past the best-by date. When you open the bag of ground flax, use it within three months.
To make sure your flaxseed doesn’t expire before it should, always reseal the bag or transfer the contents into an airtight container or jar. An opened bag of ground flax should be stored in the refrigerator, and whole grains are very flexible when it comes to storage – even the counter is fine.
Before adding the flaxseed to your meal, take a minute beforehand to check the state of your seeds. Check if there is mold or any other changes present. If there isn’t, do a sniff test: any unpleasant, fishy smells, are a sign that the contents of your bag are no longer good. If it smells like nuts, it’s safe for consumption. Eat a little to ensure the flaxseed is perfectly safe to use. If it tastes sour or bitter, it’s probably spoiled.
As previously mentioned, eating rotten flax seeds is not dangerous for human health but it can upset your stomach, and nobody wants that. If your flax meal looks, smells, and tastes fine, it’s definitely fine to consume! Enjoy your flaxseed smoothie without a care in the world!