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How can you tell if oatmeal has gone bad?

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Oatmeal are one of the most popular breakfast choices among people of all ages. You may question whether or not oatmeal can expire and how do you know if oatmeal has spoiled.

Whether you eat oats everyday, or purchase bulk quantities, if you do not cook oatmeal on regular basis then you will have to store oatmeal in a sealed airtight container in a cool, dry and dark area. When stored properly, oat can easily last between one to two years, and as long as thirty years when sealed in plastic bins and #10 cans.

When improperly handled or stored, oats can expire quickly and turn rancid. The date labels are a recommended guideline, but your senses will ultimately tell if oatmeal has gone bad.

The important thing is how do you know if it is already gone bad or expired? If you are worried about the storage of oatmeal and these questions bother you, then you have come to the right place and this guide will help you.

How can you tell if oats have gone bad?

Oatmeal Storage

If you want to store dry oatmeal, then you do not need to follow rocket science. In the case of uncooked or raw oats, you need to keep them in a cool or dry place, and it can last long without any problems. 

Placing the oatmeal storage container in a pantry is a great choice, a fridge or freezer also works well but that is not always the most economical or efficient use of space. However, if you have a separate cupboard in your kitchen or downstairs basement area, then is is recommended to store bulk oats in these areas to maintain quality and freshness for long term.

Transfer any bulk packaging into sealed airtight containers after bringing it home to ensure the oats will not be exposed to air and moisture. As you can see, oatmeal may go bad, but if you store it properly you can extend the shelf life to maintain quality and freshness.

Oatmeal Date Labels

Best by, sell by, use by and best before are examples of expiration date labels that become continue to confuse the the consumer. So how do you know if the date label on your oatmeal is accurate?

To be honest, most date labels are not based on exact science.

In fact, manufacturers provide date labeling to help consumers and retailers decide when food is of best quality, label dating does not concern food safety.

How long can you store oatmeal?

As previously discussed, date labels are directly correlated with quality, and not necessarily food safety. In terms of quality, the shelf life of oats is affected by three main factors, type of oats, storage container and storage area.

Oatmeal: Whole grain oats, oat groats, have the longest shelf life because they are minimally processed and retain the whole shape. However, the most common oatmeal, steel cut oats, rolled oats and quick oats, each have different expiration dates. 

Steel cut oats frequently last three to five years, rolled oats between one to two years and quick oats have a shorter lifespan which ranges about six to nine months.

Storage container: An influential piece to improving shelf life. The storage container must be airtight and reduce exposure to airflow and moisture. 

Oxidation can make the oats turn stale, while moisture results in the growth of mold. Both will affect the quality and freshness of the oats even if they are not expired based on date.

Storage area: Clean, cool, dark and dry, those are the requirements for a good storage area. Oats can be stored in the fridge or freezer, however that is generally not the most efficient use of space and energy. Therefore, it is recommended to store oats in a dry storage or pantry.

How do know if oats have expired?

If date labels are not to be considered as fact, then what are the best ways to determine if your oats have expired? It’s recommended to rely on your senses to determine the freshness and quality of oats. 

Look and smell, then taste to determine whether oats are still safe to consume. Raw oats should have a sweet nutty smell, look dry and taste neutral without any strong, bitter or foul flavors. 

Discoloration: Fresh oats will have a light brown or cream-like color. Any bright or dark colors could be caused by the growth of mold or bugs that have penetrated the storage container.

Mold: Moisture can enter into unsealed packaging and lead to mold issues. Whole grain oats are a dry good, so exposure to moisture will cause the oats to grow bacteria and mold in the area. Mold will spread quickly and contaminate the entire package of dry oats.

Off-putting smell: When stored for an extended amount of time, the fats can turn rancid. This will result in an off-putting steel that no longer resembles a sweet nutty aroma, but it make smell bitter or sour.

Critters: Rodents and vermin can be disastrous if they find your dry storage stash. when left undisturbed, the critters will make a home, nest and multiply quickly. 

How long can you eat oatmeal after the expiration date?

If your oatmeal has been stored and kept properly, then there is no harm to consume it after the label date. If you have expired oatmeal, then you may notice some changes in their texture, color and flavor as well. 

As a result of freshness, you may lose some nutritional value of oatmeal. Otherwise, it is considered safe to eat! 

The fact is that oatmeal can go bad if you keep them under improper conditions that will affect changes in color and flavor. Uncooked oats will go bad easily if you keep them exposed to moisture, heat, and oxygen. 

It’s best to eat your oatmeal within one year or so. However, if you cannot finish within the timeframe, then follow the recommended storage procedures to extend the shelf life of the dry good.

What happens if you eat expired oats?

Many commercial oats packages come with ‘best by’ date printed on that. But it does not mean that after that particular date or month it will go wrong.

Dry oats have a long lifespan. So, it will not go bad after the expiry date as this is a common misconception. 

If you have oats that have extended beyond the best by date, then you can use them in cookies, muffins, pancakes and other cooked recipes. It will not at all harmful. 

Furthermore, the fact remains that the original package will not provide optimal freshness and nutritional value. So, expired oats can be safe to eat, but if you notice any kinds of molds, different colors or off-putting smells, then do not to eat

It depends on the quality of the oatmeal as well. If you buy the best products, then there will be less chance of unsatisfactory textures and foul smells.

In general, expired oats can still be good for months if not years beyond the date. Therefore, it is possible that expired oatswill not harm you in any way.

Can rancid oats make you sick?

Yes, you can consume expired oats. However, they are not recommended for everyday use because they are less nutritious, may cause upset stomach and can lead to intestinal inflammation.

Rancidity is simply the oxidation of fat. As a result, you can notice the fact that eating rancid oats will not make you ill or sick. 

So, you can eat rancid oats if it is only the fats that have oxidized. However, the molecules that form as oxidation occurs can disturb your digestive system

Above all, rancid oats are less nutritious as oxidation destroys the good fats and also diminishes the vitamin contents. Experts also agree on the fact that eating rancid oats will not make anyone sick. 

You can eat lapsed oats from time to time, but they are probably not optimal for regular consumption. The regular consumption of rancid oats can make you sick over time, and it can cause some inflammatory diseases as well.

What can you do with old oatmeal?

Oats have health benefits such as high fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds like beta-glucan. They are very helpful to decrease the level of cholesterol, and can also boost the immune system as well.

If you have old oatmeal, then you should not throw it out. Many people automatically throw out oats if they have expired. But, you should not do it. 

You can use old oats on your skin to exfoliate and make your skin smooth and feel younger. Bath bombs, scrubs and soaps are simple and easy ways to use old oats that have passed their prime. 

Furthermore, oatmeal scrubs are a natural remedy for acne problems. Simply cook a basic porridge recipe with oatmeal and cool it before applying on the affected areas.

Apart from this, if you have dry and irritated skin, then you can apply oatmeal on those parts of your skin. You can get soothing relief after applying this, and it helps to heal the open pores.

Make a face mask. You just need to mix one cup of oats with flour and little amount of water. Apply the mask and let sit for 15 minutes before washing off.

Oats can work well as a soft and gentle scrub to neutralize odor on your pets. Did your dog get skunked? I know because mine has! 

Make crafts for easily amused little kids. If you have kids in your home, then you can turn the old oatsinto modeling clay.

After overnight soaking, it will turn hard dough just like the clay dough. Add food coloring if you want more creative versatility.

Expired Oatmeal: Final Thoughts

Oats are a healthy breakfast choice, especially for the kids, and a wonderful food item to start your day. They are very much easy to prepare, and even a novice cook can whip up a batch of delicious oats.

However, they’re some concerns over oats going bad and can you still eat expired oats. Dry oats must be stored inside an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark area to preserve quality for for long term. By following the recommended storage tips, you can easily extend the life of oats.

If oats have passed their expiration date, they are most likely safe to consume. Check for concerning factors such as discoloration, mold, off-putting smell and critters

If the quality of the oats has been compromised, then do not eat. However, do not rush to throw away old oats because they might still be useable for external uses such as skin care, kids crafts and to neutralize bad odors.

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