Whether it’s your grandmother’s old recipe or one of your own, pasta is delicious. It’s a real comfort food that spans the world. From Italy to Spain, India to Canada, pasta is a household dinner choice.
And not only is pasta wonderful to eat, it’s also healthy. It provides an excellent source of energy, or carbohydrates, and is very affordable. Like any good carbohydrate consumer, we want that sublime taste of fresh pasta to last forever. As the saying goes – all good things must come to an end – and that includes pasta.
There is a time and a place when pasta is past its “best before” dinner date. The question “does pasta go bad” has the simplest of answers; YES.
That answer does depend on several important factors covered in this article. So let’s break it down for you and give you a few tips on ensuring you always get the best out of your pasta, every time.
Two Sides To Pasta, Fresh Or Dried
When considering the topic of “does pasta go bad”, it’s a good idea to keep in mind that no food lasts forever. Pasta is no exception. Both homemade or fresh pasta and pre-packaged pasta will go bad, but at varying times. Each depends on how they’re stored, where they’re stored, and when they’re eaten.
Homemade pasta is a great way to use fresh ingredients and flavors. You can add in your own personal tastes and ideas as well as keep preservatives like salt low. But fresh pasta doesn’t keep as long. Some homemade pastas are made with eggs. This gives all the more importance to storing them.
Like any dairy, eggs can go bad very quickly. Sour dairy products like eggs can develop salmonella, bacteria that is harmful to humans. These bacteria can cause stomach and intestinal issues and are very serious.
Dry or pre-packaged pasta will keep for a much longer time. In an uncooked state, pasta maintains a dehydrated form and is less likely to develop mold. It is also less likely to succumb to over exposure to air, though air can affect dry pasta over time.
What happens to dry pasta vs air? Keep reading to find out that and more essential keys to pasta upkeep!
Storing Your Pasta
Have you ever opened up your cupboards or pantry and noticed a box of dried pasta and wondered if it’s still good? Most purchased pasta is in a dry, or uncooked form and will last for a very long period of time when stored.
One method is to use Tupperware containers or even glass mason style jars. When using sealed containers like these, dried pasta is less exposed to air. Air is one of the main components in spoilage. This also limits access of pantry bugs who are attracted to the sugars found in pasta. See Moisture, Mold, and Other Spoilers further down in this article for more on these.
A good way to find out how to store your pasta when uncooked is to review package labeling. The essential rule of thumb is to store in a cool and dry place, usually a pantry, and in an air-tight container. Doing this will not only add a layer of protection; it will prevent exposure to moisture and ensure a long shelf life as well.
Uncooked pasta can stay stored like this for up to 2 years. Dry pasta’s texture can become “off” once cooked if stored improperly or for too long. So being sure to create those never-to-be-passed-up pasta dishes in a reasonable amount of time is also a good idea.
Homemade pasta and cooked pasta is a completely different story. Most cooked pastas will only last for about 7 days when properly stored. Fresh made pasta, on the other hand, a little less – more like 5 days. Storing in either case requires an airtight container with the addition of refrigeration. Keep the container sealed between meals to prevent them from drying out.
Take Storage A Step Further – To The Freezer
Frozen pasta is one of the most consumed frozen dinners available at any grocery store. Freezing is a great way to ensure the freshness of pasta and pasta dishes. Take advantage of this at home!
Both uncooked and fresh or cooked pasta keep well in the freezer. The cold conditions will extend the life of your pasta. With uncooked dry pasta, keep its original packaging when freezing. This allows for an added layer of protection against frost. A freezer-safe container will ensure frost and moisture are held at bay.
The same can be said when freezing fresh or cooked pasta less the packaging. Use a freezer-safe sealed container and store up your next pasta perfection for a quick meal on the go. In both cases, the cold will keep your noodles from spoiling.
Freezing pasta extends shelf life by a week or more. Besides this, it will prevent growth of the primary candidate for ruining pasta night – mold.
Freezer-safe containers are often made of reinforced plastic material and seal very easily. They maintain an airtight quality so that while the cold can halt the spoiling process – frost or water can’t get in. Remember, moisture is an enemy when it comes to preserving food.
Moisture, Mold, And Other Spoilers
Like we said, nothing lasts forever. Foods like pastas can go bad if not stored or consumed. Two of the main reasons for spoilage of dry and cooked/fresh pasta are moisture and air. Let’s have a quick look at both.
When considering the aspect of moisture, any food will go bad from too much. Moisture leads to mold, the inevitable sign of the end times of pretty much any food. That holds true for both dry and cooked/fresh pasta.
Signs of mold are one way to know if your pasta has taken a turn for the worse. This is especially true when dealing with cooked or fresh pasta. Mold can appear as discoloration with a “fuzzy” texture. It often has a distinct off-putting smell too. So be sure to consider how your pasta both looks and smells before deciding to add it to the menu.
As for air and how it affects pasta, it can cause various problems. In most cases about dry pasta, the pasta can develop discolored spots along the edges. One could view these as age spots. These are a clear sign that air has caused further dehydration of your pasta and affected texture and flavor.
With cooked or fresh pasta, over exposure to air causes the noodles to turn to a plastic-like texture. Hardly the soft, succulent pasta of yesterday at all!
Another spoiler of all things pasta is pantry bugs, as touched on before. These insects are found in rice and other carbohydrate-based dry foods, including pasta. Pantry bugs are attracted to the sugars found in foods like pasta. A thorough inspection of your older pastas, especially if they are open, is a very good rule to follow.
Keeping this in mind, it is all the more important to ensure your pasta is sealed when being stored, whether dry, cooked, or fresh. This limits exposure to these types of conditions and allows for safe and delicious consumption.
The Verdict Is In: Does Pasta Go Bad?
Yes – any pasta, whether dry, fresh, or cooked will go bad if not stored and consumed in a reasonable amount of time. That being said, who can leave a plate of pasta long enough for it to even consider going bad anyway?
Buttery noodles, delicious sauce, freshly grated cheese and spice – that’s a recipe for perfection if there ever was one!
Remember these easy tips to keeping your pasta fresh and enjoy every noodle to the last twirl of your fork. We know we will!