In my opinion, pasta is proof there’s a god. If I might eat noodles for each meal, I completely would. Breakfast linguini anybody? However, the one pasta I’ve in my house is an aged field of penne, begging the question, does pasta expire? There are so many alternative dishes you can also make with pasta as the bottom ingredient — from spaghetti bolognese and mac and cheese to spinach tortellini — so you are going to wish to ensure you’re stocked up.
In the tree department that describes the pasta world, it begins with contemporary pasta vs. dried pasta. “Fresh pasta tends to be sheeted pasta made with the type of pasta machine that has rollers that press thick dough into a thin sheet. Dried pasta is typically extruded pasta, made with a machine that pushes dough out a small opening that mimics the shape of the final pasta form, says Linda Miller Nicholson, pasta extraordinaire and creator behind the popular colorful pasta Instagram account @saltyseattle. “They both have beautiful applications. Fresh pasta is typically useful for sauces that cook quickly and cling to the shape quickly, whereas dried pasta works best for sauces that take time to marry to the appropriate shape.” Nicholson explains to Bustle that by way of cooking, the key distinction is time. “Fresh pasta will typically finish cooking within a few minutes whereas dried pasta can take 10-15 minutes to cook to properly al dente,” she says.
Dried pasta is the sort you may discover in containers at most grocery shops. It’s extra frequent than contemporary pasta, particularly for us on-the-go of us. Of course, contemporary pasta is about one thousand occasions tastier than the boxed stuff, however who has time to hand-roll tagliatelle, pappardelle, fettuccine, or any of the opposite myriad sheeted shapes? “Fresh and dried pasta tends to have a significant textural difference, which is one of the first things we notice in how they taste. Dried pasta is more difficult to overcook, whereas fresh pasta needs to be eaten within a few minutes or else it will become soggy,” says Nicholson. And, contemporary pasta bought on the grocery retailer usually comes with a heftier price ticket in comparison with its dried counterpart. So for these of us hoping to someday prepare dinner that questionable field of spaghetti lurking within the kitchen cupboard however do not know how to tell if dried pasta has gone bad, there are some things it’s best to know.
“Dried pasta can become inedible, but its shelf life is typically a few years as long as it’s stored properly,” Alyssa Pike, RD, supervisor of vitamin communications on the International Food Information Council, tells Bustle. Nicholson agrees, saying that “dried pasta can be stored more or less indefinitely as long as it’s not exposed to sun or other heat compromising elements.” She additionally explains that “dried pasta is no longer excellent when it’s excessively cracked and brittle. Your eyes are the best barometer to detect when dried pasta is no longer at its best.”
Dried pasta is unlikely to grow harmful bacteria, but it surely does lose its taste because it ages. “It’s helpful to know that date labels or ‘expiration dates’ (e.g. sell by, used by, best by) are based on quality, not safety — except for infant formula,” Pike says. “So, yes, technically it is safe to eat dried pasta past its expiration date, although the quality of taste or texture may begin to change after its expiration date.” The expiration date on a field of pasta is normally about one to 2 years.
“If your pasta is past its ‘Best if Used By/Before’ date, it’s a good idea to inspect it before you cook,” Pike says. “Overt changes in texture or smell are indications that the pasta is no longer safe to eat. As the saying goes: ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’”
Fresh pasta, on the other hand, has a very short shelf life and should only sit in your fridge for about two days, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodKeeper app. You can extend the shelf life of fresh pasta to up to two months by freezing it, but when you have fresh pasta in the house, how long can you really wait without devouring it? Meanwhile, cooked pasta can be kept for three to five days in your refrigerator, and for up to two months in the freezer.
When it comes down to it, you should always use your best judgment when evaluating old pasta. If the noodles are discolored or show visible signs of mold, it’s best to throw that old pasta away and start fresh.
Alyssa Pike, RD, manager of nutrition communications, International Food Information Council
Additional reporting by Kathryn Kattalia
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