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When does unused pasta go bad?

I have never been able to tell when unused, dried pasta purchased in a box or plastic is bad. How can you tell if it will no longer taste fresh when you cook it? I have some packages unopened and never used without expiration dates. What is a reasonable shelf life for unused pasta?

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  1. I think the rule of thumb for packaged goods such as what you describe is about a year from date of purchase. Having said that, I tend to stock packaged stuff that I'm going to use within a month of purchase. This is for unopened packaged/dry goods to be stored in my pantry. I'm sure others will disagree with me.... but ....c'est la vie.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      I'm freezing my pasta,rice, etc. now so it has a longer life. I originally did it to avoid mealy bugs but am happy with the results of this new approach.

    2. I would like some information on this subject. I have a bag of tri-colored dried pasta that I brought home from Italy that is now well past the expiration date printed on the bag. No eggs, just durum wheat and spinach and tomato for the color. It looks and smells fine... What exactly spoils in dried pasta? Can I risk using?

      1 Reply
      1. re: erica

        Nothing in it spoils -- if it could "spoil" it would spoil in no more than a few weeks. It does deteriorate in quality, but whether it's still good enough to eat is a matter of taste: if it tastes good, then it's good.

      2. If it was a filled, dried pasta, like tortellini, I might chuck it out. If it's just durum (semolina) and water, I'd probably go ahead and risk it. But, I also said it's probably OK to eat that pot of chili that sat out all night, too. Does rice go bad? What about dried beans/legumes? If anyone knows for sure, please post. Thanks, Adam

        2 Replies
        1. re: adamshoe

          It goes bad? Unless it has bugs in it, I use it.

          1. re: dolores

            My thoughts, too. As long as nothing moves when I open the box, it's good to go. I've never had any taste bad or make anyone sick, and some stuff I have used has been around for years.

        2. in my experience, I've had pasta that tasted stale or off tasting when it got too old.

          1. I've used pasta that has been well past its expiration date and haven't noticed a difference.

            1 Reply
            1. re: spkspk

              I boiled and salted the water and tested a few of the (non-filled) pasta shapes. A couple began to disintegrate before they were completely cooked. Not wanting to ruin my sauce, I threw the bag out. I am too embarassed to reveal how old these were..let's just say "more than 2 years past expiration date." Thanks for all the replies!

            2. Doesn't dry pasta have eternal life! I mean that stuff is indestructable.

              4 Replies
              1. re: cstr

                The only time I've ever seen anything approaching "pasta going bad" was with shells I'd bought for stuffing. The shells had striations/ridges along the outer surface, and when they cooked, the pasta disintegrated along the striations, making the shells un-stufffable. I brought the unused portion back to the store, where they diagnosed the problem as elderly pasta.

                1. re: Pumpkinseed

                  Then that is more or less the same issue that I faced..a couple of the pieces began to break apart at the seam/striations. Rice certainly has a shelf life; I was unsure about pasta before this but apparently it does, although I had that bag YEARS past the use-by date. Doesn't flour eventually go "bad?" Or does it?

                  1. re: erica

                    As long as it doesn't get wet, it won't spoil, but as others have noted its structure gets kinda crumbly after a while and it won't cook evenly anymore. It will however be edible, just not very good.

                    I've got stuff over a year old that's OK - that's in a dry climate, mind you - but I wouldn't keep it much longer than that. Certainly not large flat forms. Elbows tend to hold up better, it seems.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      FWIW, I seem to recall stories about how archeologists have found wheat in tombs thousands of years old, have planted it, and it sprouted. If true, that would suggest wheat has properties such that it can be stored dry for a good long while and not "spoil." Now, how long you can store pasta and still have it come out well after cooking, that's another thing. But if you have some cook up a little and see. Nothing to lose by trying.