Are you a fan of ramen noodles, a popular quick meal among those who are on a budget, don’t like to cook, or have short lunch breaks? Since this meal is cheap and easy to make, many people buy a few extra packs and store them for months.
While that is a practical thing to do, one question remains: Can ramen noodles go bad? Or, more importantly, how can you tell if they are spoiled? This article will tell you everything you need to know about storing ramen noodles to make them last longer. Let’s get started!
Can Ramen Noodles Go Bad?
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No food can last forever, and that includes ramen noodles. Although they have a fairly long shelf life, your favorite noodles will eventually expire. For that, you have oxidation of the oil to blame.
The production of instant noodles includes deep-frying in high-temperature oil for about two minutes. The dehydration process removes all the microorganisms that usually spoil your food.
However, after the expiration date, the oils start to oxidize and break down, and noodles get an unpleasant smell and taste. Thus, vitamin E is added as an antioxidant to slow down this oxidation process.
When you compare various packets of ramen noodles, you can see that they usually have a best before date printed rather than an expiration date. That means your favorite quick meal is probably still edible after a certain date if you store it properly. However, the taste quality will decline with time due to the aforementioned oxidation.
But can ramen noodles go bad, as in rancid? Yes, they can go really bad, get mold, and cause food poisoning if you don’t store them the right way. If moisture, bugs, or mice find their way inside the packaging, your ramen will become unsafe to consume.
How Long Do Dry Ramen Noodles Last?
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So, can ramen noodles go bad and become inedible? Yes, they can. But this instant meal can last long before that happens — months or even years. That is because they are made of just water and flour, with flavorings packaged separately.
There are many types of ramen noodles; how long they will last depends on the kind, packaging, and the way you store them. For instance, fresh noodles, noodle soup in a cup, and instant ramen have a different shelf life.
When it comes to dry noodles, you can keep them in your pantry for eight months or in your fridge for three months. They will last the longest if you put them in a freezer — up to a year.
However, these guidelines are based on the flavor, not the danger of food-borne illnesses. When properly stored, you can keep them for about eight months past the deadline.
How Can You Tell If Ramen Noodles Are Bad?
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Now that we have answered the question, Can ramen noodles go bad? — they can — you’re probably wondering if that happened to your stock. Luckily, there are ways to check. If your noodles are three months past their best before date, you should inspect them thoroughly.
Wet or soggy spots, holes, and damaged packaging are all clear indicators your quick meal is no longer usable. You can also check for the following telltale signs.
Any change in color on your block of noodles means something is happening with their composition. For instance, pale ramen could indicate the presence of bacteria or mold growth. In any case, throw away the noodles if you notice any discoloration to avoid food poisoning.
2. Strange Smell
Ramen noodles that still have their typical smell are probably OK to eat. On the other hand, if you detect an unusual odor while you are making your instant dinner, it could be a sign that your noodles have gone south. In that case, you shouldn’t eat them.
3. Sour Taste
We get that you are ravenous. But before you start devouring your expired noodles, you should sample them first. If the taste is off, perhaps a bit sour or bitter, take it as a red flag. Don’t consume ramen noodles if you believe they taste strange.
4. Different Texture
In many cases, you get a bag of powdered flavor enhancers with your instant noodles. If at some point you notice lumps among the powder, it means moisture has found its way inside the bag. While there might not be any other noticeable changes, lumps are an indication enough that the product has gone bad.
5. Spoiled Oil
When you notice that the oil in your noodle bag has gone rancid, it’s time to get rid of it. Smelly oil is a clear indication that your meal is not safe to eat.
6. Presence of Bugs
Can ramen noodles go bad because of bugs? Definitely! You should regularly check for pantry bugs when you store noodles in a pantry. They can quickly get inside damaged packs and lay eggs inside.
Even though most pantry bugs pose little risk to your health, eating noodles with their eggs is just too gross. So, you’ll probably want to get rid of the noodles anyways.
7. Presence of Mold
Unlike bugs that are only disgusting, green or black mold on your food is quite dangerous to your health.
If the place you keep your noodles stashed is moist, the mold will likely develop and spoil your food. Fungus and mold can quickly multiply on instant noodles because they offer a large surface area to grow and spread.
Even if your ramen noodles still haven’t hit their best before date, mold will deem them spoiled.
Is It OK to Eat Ramen Noodles After They Expire?
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In most cases, eating instant noodles past the best before date is OK because it poses no danger to your health. Just make sure to check them thoroughly and cook them properly. You are good to go if they look the way they always do and you don’t find anything suspicious in the process.
Can ramen noodles go bad enough to make you sick? Yes, they can. As mentioned before, any food can become so spoiled or rotten that it’s unsafe to consume.
But with ramen noodles, the consequences should not be too scary. Eating spoiled noodles can cause bloating, bad gas, and stomach discomfort for a few hours. However, keep in mind that this is not an expert opinion and that you might experience more severe symptoms. So, when in doubt, throw them out!
Can Ramen Noodles Go Bad But Still Taste Good?
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Of course, no one can tell you for sure what your noodles will taste like past the best before date. It depends on factors like brand, ingredients’ quality, how old they are, and how you store them.
You will most likely discover that the taste is lacking, though. The further you are past the expiration date, the poorer the taste will be. But the noodles will still be technically edible.
Just to compare, take a look at what some users said about tasting expired ramen noodles.
• Six months past the deadline, they claim that the noodles tasted the same or a bit bland.
• A year and a half past the expiration date, the instant meal usually looks and tastes bad and can even upset the stomach.
• Two years after the best before date, ramen has a sour taste, smells strange, and makes you want to vomit.
• Two and a half years after the deadline, you can taste the rancid oil, which can hurt your stomach.
• The bravest users tried noodles three years past the expiration date, and it caused severe stomach reactions — not to mention the foul taste and smell!
7 Tips for Storing Ramen Noodles
Ramen noodles have a long shelf life and require little storage space. Normally, it’s enough to keep them in your kitchen cabinet or pantry. Still, if you want to prolong their lifespan, you can use some of these tips.
1. Store Noodles in a Dark and Dry Place
A perfect place for instant noodles is a kitchen cabinet or pantry. That is because such spots are usually dry, dark, and at room temperature. But if that’s not an option, just make sure to keep the ramen away from sun exposure or heat source.
In the same manner, frequent temperature changes can make them spoil faster. So, to make your ramen stash last longer, keep it in a place with a stable temperature.
2. Put Noodles in Cardboard Boxes
Cardboard boxes add another layer of protection, no matter where you decide to stock instant noodles in your home. They are great for keeping odors, moisture, insects, and rodents at bay. Perhaps an ideal way to store your favorite instant dinner is to put noodle packages in a box and place it on the pantry floor. The temperature there is the lowest, so you might be able to extend their life by a month or two.
3. Use Airtight Containers
Clean, airtight containers are another good solution. It would be best to use glass containers because plastic ones are more susceptible to moisture and mold. But you should avoid storing noodles in nylon bags. They do little to save your ramen from external factors, and pantry bugs can easily break through them.
4. Store in Fridge
Storing noodles in the fridge is also an option, but a less ideal one. That is because the ramen will not last as long as keeping them in a pantry. It’s fairly humid inside a fridge and you frequently open its doors, causing temperature changes. As a result, noodle blocks deteriorate faster, and mold can develop on their surface.
5. Hoard Noodles in a Freezer
If you opt for this method, it would be best to write a freezing date on each noodle bag. That will help you keep track and take out older bags first. Still, most experts advise against freezing noodles for over a few months past the expiration date.
6. Stash Them Away from Strong Smells
Dry food tends to absorb strong smells around it. For this reason, it would be best to keep your noodles away from smelly foods and products, whether in the fridge or the pantry. Otherwise, you might end up with chicken ramen that has a strong garlic aroma.
7. Keep Flavorings Separately
When purchasing ramen noodles in bulk, you may want to separate powdered ingredients and bags containing oils. It might be best to refrigerate the oils and flavorings. That way, you won’t have to worry about the oil spilling if the package tears or powder flavorings clumping.
Opening all the powder bags and putting the same flavors in a glass jar with a lid might be a good idea. That allows you to check their condition easily and dose your meals as you like.
But remember that flavorings and oils have a shorter life span than noodles. So, make sure to keep track of their expiration date and throw them away after the deadline. They might not be as safe to consume afterward.
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