Do chia seeds go bad? Yes, chia seeds can go bad if they are not stored properly or are kept for too long. The good news is the seeds can keep for a very long time. If you have had chia seeds sitting in the cabinet for more than a few weeks, go through this checklist to see if they can still be used.
The antioxidants in chia seeds protect them from rotting, so they can last very long in your cupboard or refrigerator. And even though a dry, cool location is best, these tiny seeds can also withstand changes in temperature and humidity better than most.
That being said, you only use about a teaspoon to a tablespoon of chia seeds at a time, so one package will be in your cabinets for a while.
What Is A Chia Seed?
These tiny seeds are from the plant Salvia Hispanica of the mint family and are brown-black or grey-white when fully ripe. Each seed is about 2ml in size and is mottled in appearance.
These seeds are of Central American origin and are believed to have been a staple of the Aztec diet.
Chia seeds have a nutty, earthy flavor and can be added to smoothies, salads, soup, stew, baked goods, pudding, and other foods to gain the nutritional benefit of these tiny seeds.
Eat them whole, ground, or soaked in water. They are hydrophilic and gelatinous and can be added to water and used as an egg substitute or nutritional supplement.
How Long Do Chia Seeds Last?
When properly stored, these nutritionally rich seeds have a long shelf life, lasting up to four years. The package should have an expiration date.
|Chia Seeds Shelf Life||2-4 years when properly stored in the pantry and 4+ years in the fridge/freezer.|
|Chia Meal Shelf Life||2-4 weeks when properly stored in the pantry and 1-2 years in the fridge/freezer.|
|Chia Gel Shelf Life||2 hours at room temperature and 2-3 weeks in the fridge/freezer.|
|Soaked Chia Seeds Shelf Life||Up to 5 days in the fridge.|
|Expiration Date or Best Buy Date||If frozen or properly stored, the seeds may last longer. Nutritional Value will degrade more rapidly after this date.|
|Storage||Airtight Container in a cool, dry location.|
|Spoilage||Germination, Odors, Moisture, Bitterness, Discoloration, Mold, Torn packaging, Clumping, Texutre Changes.|
|Refrigerate or Freeze?||This extends the shelf life but isn’t strictly necessary.|
How to Tell if Chia Seeds Are Bad
Quick test. Drop your chia seeds in a glass of water. If they float, use them. If they sink, they have gone bad.
Chia seeds do go bad, but it takes a very long time. Use these other criteria to see if your chia seeds are still useable.
If the seeds have been kept in a warm, moist location they may germinate and begin growing even without sunlight. If this occurs, you should discard the package.
Strange Chemical Odor
This occurs because of enzymatic changes as the seeds age.
Chia seeds can absorb a huge amount of water, and this mixture is used in quite a few recipes such as chia pudding.
However, once chia seeds get wet, they must be refrigerated and cannot be stored at room temperature. If you find moist or slimy chia seeds in your cabinet, you should discard them.
The chemical changes that occur as the seeds’ fat content break down create a bitter taste. This is one indication that the chia seeds have gone rancid.
The seeds may be purchased in brown, gray, black, and white varieties and should keep the appearance they have at the time of purchase.
The surface is naturally mottled in appearance so that is nothing to worry about.
This might look like white fuzz, white powder, green fuzz, green powder, or white flakes. The chia seeds are suspect if it doesn’t look like clean seeds anymore. Mold may also have a smell.
This is not the same as a chemical smell but is the smell that oily things get as the oil breaks down and rots.
Chia seeds are high in Omega Fatty Acids and natural oils. Good chia seeds have a mildly nutty aroma.
Bugs love chia seeds; once bugs are inside the package, so are eggs and excrement. Discard any food in your pantry once you find bugs in the package.
This is a sign that rodents have gotten into your chia seeds, and it’s time to let them go. Rodents carry disease.
Best Before Date
Your seeds are properly labeled with a best-before date instead of a hard expiration date.
If it is past that date, check for all of the above signs of spoilage before using them. They may still be perfectly fine, depending on how well they were stored.
If your chia seeds are clumped together or sticking together they should be discarded. This is a sign of moisture.
The chia seeds should be dry and crunchy. If the texture has changed and they are mushy or soft do not eat them.
How To Store Chia Seeds So They Don’t Go Bad
The keys to proper storage are an airtight container, a dry location, and cool temperatures.
It would not be a good idea to put an airtight container of chia seeds in a corner cabinet next to your oven or above it. If you have a dark pantry in your basement, that would be ideal for long-term storage.
Vacuum packaging or food-grade long-term storage containers are a smart investment for chia seeds you don’t plan to use immediately.
Overnight muesli and overnight oats are two of my favorite ways to add more chia seeds to my family’s diet. They also make a healthy and nutritious breakfast you can prep the night before so your morning is a little more relaxed.
I promise you’ll love how tasty and easy to make they are. If you’re new to the overnight oats craze, here are 5 recipes for a great start!
Should I Keep Chia Seeds In The Refrigerator?
Yes. In fact, refrigerating seeds in an airtight container can extend their shelf life and prevent them from going bad as quickly.
If you have chia seeds in the original packaging that you don’t plan to use for a while, refrigerating or freezing the seeds is probably your best course of action.
You can also keep an open package with a scoop down inside an airtight plastic container and then pull them out to measure into your recipes directly from the refrigerator or freezer.
Chia seeds that have been mixed with water for pudding or an egg substitute should always be refrigerated.
What Should I Do If I Eat Bad Seeds?
If you have any concerns at all you should seek true medical advice. Consuming small quantities of rancid seeds probably won’t make you very sick, but the possibility of bacterial contamination that could make you sicker does exist.
You may experience digestive discomfort such as gas or an upset stomach. Discard the remaining chia seeds.
Nutritional Value and Storage
As with any plant-based food, the nutritional value of a chia seed degrades over time.
When the seeds are fresh, they are very high in nutrition with fiber, complete protein, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium, and trace minerals such as zinc and copper.
Proper storage preserves as much of the nutritional value as possible. The good news is that chia seeds store so well nutrition degradation should be minimal.
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When used in a recipe, chia seeds will last as long as the quickest expiring ingredient in your dish.
Chia pudding last 3-5 days in the fridge. It is made by hydrating the chia seeds overnight in a liquid such as milk.
Always refrigerate chia pudding as it will only last up to 2 hours on the counter.
Some chia recipes such as chia pudding, and smoothies call for the seeds to be soaked overnight. Always store the soaked chia seeds in the refrigerator. If kept at room temperature, they should be consumed within 2 hours.