Tofu sales have skyrocketed throughout the years as people are discovering its health benefits. This protein-rich food item is an essential part of every vegetarian or vegan diet, which is why it is stored in a substantial quantities.
When you see your Tofu approaching the use-by date mentioned on the label, you start wondering, Does Tofu Go Bad? Like other soy-milk-based products, tofu can go bad, and it doesn’t take too long to go rancid.
So, before bringing home a pack of Tofu, you must learn how to store it properly for prolonged shelf-life, what spoilage signs to look for, and what is the shelf-life of Tofu. If you want relevant answers to all these questions along with other tofu-related facts, continue reading.
How Long Can Tofu Last?
The Shelf-life of Tofu depends on how it is stored and whether it is a shelf-stable variety or needs consistent refrigeration. Generally, you would require storing tofu in the refrigerator, even if it is sealed and not opened.
The use-by date on the label is a good indicator of its lifespan. People must not use tofu for more than seven days after its use-by date.
How long does unopened tofu last in the fridge?
The shelf-stable tofu comes in aseptic packaging, and it allows unopened tofu to keep its quality for up to three months, even when stored in the pantry. If you have bought refrigerated tofu, expect its unopened packet to last for 7-9 days in the refrigerator.
How long does tofu last in the fridge opened?
After opening it, you need to store it in a fridge and consume it within three to five days, even if the expiry date is in the future.
The same is also applicable to homemade tofu. Storing homemade tofu in your pantry is unsafe as it lacks preservatives and may go rancid quickly, unlike store-bought tofu. Store your homemade tofu in an airtight container and refrigerate it consistently to make it last for up to five days. Cooked tofu must be stored in the fridge.
|Unopened Tofu||Two to Three Months||Seven Days||Three to Five Months|
|Opened Tofu||Not Safe||Three to Five Days||Three to Five Months|
|Homemade Tofu||Not Safe||Three to Five Days||Three to Five Months|
Please note these periods are just an estimate for their best quality and may vary depending upon the brands and types of tofu you have bought.
Signs of Tofu Spoilage | How to know if tofu has gone bad?
As long as you follow the right storage protocols, your tofu will stay safe and edible up to its use-by date. But, there are some common spoilage signs you have to look for before using it. It will help you know when your tofu has gone bad and is not edible anymore.
If you see a package of tofu bloating, discard it immediately. It occurs when a colony of bacteria starts forming inside the package, resulting in excess pressure-creating gas accumulation. It causes the package to bloat. So, throw the package when you see such signs.
Fresh tofu usually comes with a neutral and mild aroma. But when it starts getting rancid, you will notice an acidic odor coming from it. So, when you sniff any such smell when opening the package, discard the tofu as it is no longer edible.
Color and Texture Change
Tofu starts changing its color and gets yellow or darker when it gets off. So, if you notice any color change from white cream to yellow or dark, discard your tofu immediately.
When there is a change in the natural texture of tofu, it means tofu is not edible anymore. When tofu starts getting rancid, the surface gets slime and tofu starts getting clotted. You must discard it immediately as it may have negative effects on your health.
Tofu has a neutral flavor and is used to prepare desserts, savory meals, and soups. But, when your tofu starts going bad, it turns bitter with a sour taste. So, if you notice a bitter or sour taste after eating your tofu, it means the tofu has gone bad, and it is time to discard it.
Check the Water
The water used for storing tofu must stay clear. But, it turns mushy and cloudy with brown lumps when it gets rancid, and it is because of the organic growth in the tofu. So, discard it if you see any such sign in your tofu.
When you see brown, green, or black spots on the surface of tofu, it indicates that the tofu is no longer edible. You must not eat such tofu; instead, discard it immediately before it causes any health issues.
What Happens If You Eat Bad Tofu? Can you get food poisoning from tofu?
After its use-by date, tofu usually gets rancid, and people prefer keeping tofu submerged in water, making it prone to spoilage. Over time, you will see the growth of pathogenic microorganisms on stored tofu, and it can cause health conditions if consumed accidentally.
Consuming tofu after expiry is harmful and may cause severe conditions. But symptoms of food poisoning after consuming bad tofu are uncommon. Consuming tofu after expiry may cause mild health issues, including bloating, gas, and other digestive issues.
Some people may develop symptoms of Listeria Monocytogens Infection, especially when they consume raw tofu in place of eating cooked tofu. The infection may cause headaches, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. The symptoms of the infection may appear after one to four weeks of consumption.
Can you Freeze Tofu? Refrigerated Vs. Shelf-Stable
Tofu freezes quickly and lasts for three to six months when stored in a freezer. Tofu can even last up to a year when properly stored in the freezer, and there is no harm in consuming the frozen tofu within one year. However, the texture and taste may degrade over time.
If you want to preserve your tofu for up to 365 days, you need to freeze it, and there are certain things you need to keep in mind before freezing it.
- Divide the package of tofu into small portions as it helps you to thaw only the required portion and not the entire tofu. Re-freezing is not a good option for tofu.
- Remove excess water from the container before freezing it, and squeeze the tofu to drain it before chopping.
- Wrap the small pieces into a small freezer bag and zip-lock the package before storing it in a freezer.
- You must refrigerate the tofu overnight before thawing. Never leave it on your kitchen top after taking it out from the freezer.
Tofu needs continuous refrigeration to keep its quality longer. You have to refrigerate unopened and leftover tofu in a fridge, regardless of the variety.
Only the shelf-stable variety can last outside a refrigerator at room temperature. So, you have to check the label to confirm the variety you have purchased and store it accordingly.
However, the shelf-stable variety of tofu only lasts at room temperature until it is sealed and unopened. Once it is opened, you need to refrigerate it like other varieties of tofu.
If you are unsure which variety you have bought from the store, place it inside your fridge as it works fine for all the varieties.
Tofu is not shelf-stable food, and hence it needs refrigeration right from the time you buy it from a store. However, shelf-stable variety keeps its quality and taste even when stored at room temperature. But, it will only last at room temperature until unopened, as after opening, you need to refrigerate it like other varieties.
Raw Tofu can sit outside a fridge for only two hours once it is cooked. Keeping it outside for more than two hours can increase the chance of bacterial growth as it is a perishable food.
So, apart from unopened shelf-stable variety, all varieties of tofu need refrigeration as they are not shelf-stable food.
|Storage||Shelf Life||Tips||How to Thaw|
|Unopened, in freezer||Up to 6 months||Store in an airtight container in freezer||Thaw in fridge or cold water|
|Opened, in freezer||Up to 3 months||Store in an airtight container in freezer||Thaw in fridge or cold water|
How to Store Tofu?
Tofu is a perishable dairy product that can contaminate easily, especially when stored inappropriately or exposed to other foods. But, certain storage tips can prolong the shelf-life of the dairy product.
Store in Cool and Dark Corners
The unopened shelf-stable variety of tofu can be stored in the pantry until it is opened. However, you need to choose the right place for its storage. Find any cool and dark corner in your pantry away from heat sources and sunlight. It creates the best environment for the storage of shelf-stable variety.
After opening it, you must transfer it to a refrigerator. After opening, tofu only lasts for 30-60 minutes outside the refrigerator.
After opening the tofu, you must wash it under cold water and drain the water. Place the tofu in a container for storage, pour boiling water over it, and place it in the refrigerator after it cools down.
It will help prevent the process of fermentation while enhancing the shelf-life of tofu for up to five days.
Keep Tofu Submerged in Water
Ensure that your tofu stays soaked or submerged in water until its use-by date. After filling the container with boiled water, you need to normalize the temperature before putting it in a fridge. You must keep changing the water daily.
You must keep tofu submerged in clean water and add a pinch of salt to preserve it longer. But salt may change its taste slightly over time.
Use Glass Container
You must keep checking your tofu daily, especially if you are not going to eat it any soon. Using a glass container is always best as it lets you check the condition of the tofu without taking it out and exposing tofu to other food odors.
Due to unsanitary and unhygienic storage conditions, dairy products like tofu may contaminate pathogenic bacteria. So, you must ensure to store your tofu in hygienic environments and always wash your hands before handling the tofu.
What are the Alternatives to Tofu if it has gone bad?
If the tofu in your kitchen pantry has gone bad, you can try the following alternatives:
- Cannellini Beans
|Storage Condition||Shelf Life||Tips for Storage||How to Tell if Tofu has Gone Bad|
|Unopened, in the refrigerator||Up to 1 week||Keep tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator||Check for off smell or taste, or visible mold|
|Opened, in the refrigerator||Up to 1 week||Keep tofu in an airtight container in the refrigerator||Check for off smell or taste, or visible mold|
|Unopened, in the freezer||Up to 6 months||Keep tofu in an airtight container in the freezer||Check for off smell or taste, or visible ice crystals|
|Opened, in the freezer||Up to 3 months||Keep tofu in an airtight container in the freezer||Check for off smell or taste, or visible ice crystals|
FAQs about shelf life & spoilage of tofu
What is the Best Method to Store Tofu?
Freezing is the best way to store your tofu. But you must ensure to store it sealed in a freezer. Freezing will extend the shelf-life of your tofu up to three months past its use-by date. Freezing keeps the tofu safe and edible and sustains its texture and taste even after its best-by date.
Is Refrigeration Necessary After Opening Tofu?
Yes, refrigeration is necessary after opening your tofu. It will degrade and go rancid within 48 hours if you don’t store the tofu in a fridge after opening. You must refrigerate it by putting it in an airtight container filled with fresh and clean boiled water. The quality must be checked regularly, and keep changing the water every five days.
How long does tofu last in the freezer?
The shelf-life of opened tofu is only three months, especially when it is continuously stored in a freezer. The shelf-life of opened tofu is shorter than unopened tofu. But, you must drain the excess water before freezing.
Does tofu smell sour?
Fresh tofu doesn’t have any distinctive smell. As soon as you get a sour smell from your tofu, it is time to toss it out.
Does tofu need to be cooked?
Technically, you do not need to cook tofu as it can be eaten directly out of the package. This is why people use tofu in vegan desserts to get a creamy texture.
How long does cooked tofu last?
Cooked tofu lasts longer than raw tofu by a difference of 3 to 4 days. While you can refrigerate it to elongate its shelf life, you might not like the texture of refrigerated cooked tofu.
How long does tofu last in water?
If you want your tofu to last long, you can submerge it in plain tap water without changing it. Ensure that the water is clear. This will help you elongate its shelf life by 10 days.
How long is tofu good after the expiration date?
Tofu does not have an expiration date. Instead, it has a best-by date, after which the quality of the tofu will start to deteriorate. For reference, you can use it for a week after its best-by date.
The Bottom Line
Hopefully, you are aware by now that tofu is a dairy product that can go bad, and the process won’t take too long after opening the package of tofu.
The unopened tofu shelf-life is three months, while the opened tofu lasts for five days. Frozen tofu can last up to four to five months, and if you have cooked tofu, ensure to consume it within four days.
You must store your tofu properly to sustain its quality and for the safety of the food. If you have a pack of tofu sitting in your fridge for quite a long, check the spoilage signs before consuming it.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.