Does Oatmeal Go Bad? 

All useful information about oatmeal

Written by Elisa Chan. Updated on Does Oatmeal Go Bad

Oatmeal is a great option for a quick and nutritious breakfast both for kids and adults. They taste perfect when being cooked plain, with sugar, honey, nuts or berries, and fruits. 

Of course, oats shelf life has always been a point of concern for many generations of housewives! 

Can oatmeal go bad? Is it safe to eat expired oats? This is what we are going to talk about in this article.

Join and stay with us till the end!

Let’s go!

Related: Does Popcorn Expire? The Advanced Guide to Incredible Popcorn

Health Benefits of Eating Oats

All of us heard many times that oats are extremely useful and healthy. Some of you may still remember a bowl or morning porridge that you had to eat before going to school.

Gosh, how many people hated that porridge and tried to skip it no matter what! However, consuming oatmeal on a regular basis is indeed a great help for our health.

First of all, oats are gluten-free and contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Oats have a very well-balanced nutrient composition with a high level of fiber, carbs, and protein.

Can oatmeal go bad
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Iron, zinc, copper, vitamins B1 and B5, phosphorus, and magnesium – and that’s not a complete list of all the healthy things that can be found in the ordinary portion of oatmeal.

Consuming oats allows making our blood flow better and dilating our blood vessels, they bring down the cholesterol level keeping it on the normal index.

In addition, oats contribute greatly to blood sugar level control and – you will be surprised – they are very helpful for keeping our weight under control!

These grains even make our skin better!

Since oats are so healthy and great, why not learn more about their shelf life and storage?

Related: Can You Freeze Tortillas?

Oatmeal Shelf Life

Oatmeal Shelf Life
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The duration of oatmeal durability depends on several different factors.

First of all, it matters how it’s being stored. Oats are grains by nature which means that they must be kept in the airtight tank with a lid being tightly and properly closed. Ensure that no air or moisture can get inside the tank.

Besides, the firmly sealed lid will protect the oats from the intrusion of any vermins.

The best place to keep oats is a cool and dark cupboard, however, if a longer-term of storage is required, it would be better to refrigerate the grains.

What is the average shelf life of oatmeal?

Here everything will depend on what type of cereal it is all about.

For instance, flavored instant oatmeal stays edible for six to nine months which is the shortest validity period.

Instant and steel-cut oatmeal will last longer, something like two years at most whereas five-minute oatmeal will be consumable even after three years of storage.

Now that we have figured out the basic nuances of the oatmeal life, let’s find out what actions to take if, by any chance, we notice that our cereal has turned bad or about doing this soon.

How long can you keep oatmeal

How long does oatmeal last?

Normally, oatmeal is a very long-lasting product. Of course, everything depends on what type of cereal we are talking about but any uncooked oatmeal will remain edible for months, to be precise, from one to three years in total.

Does oatmeal expire?

Oatmeal does expire if it’s being kept under improper conditions, for example, if it’s being exposed to the influence of moisture or any temperature fluctuations.

Is it safe to eat expired Oats?

If you want to eat expired oatmeal – think twice. If the package is unopened, you can eat it within one year or so. But if the expired oatmeal was stored unproperly (in the damp area or the box was opened), you can find a weird smell and insects inside, so the better to throw it out.

Or it is better to give expired oatmeal to birds. They also need something, especially in the cold winter. Insects often start in it, and it loses its taste. But if the oatmeal is well cooked, it is almost impossible to get poisoned (however, there are very dangerous types of mold).
So please don’t risk it!

How to Store Oatmeal In a Pantry And Not Only There?

How to Store Oatmeal In a Pantry And Not Only There
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When it comes to oatmeal storage, we usually don’t bother tossing the package to the kitchen cabinet or cupboard until the expiry date arrives.

However, you could probably notice already that such a method often ends up with the content of the package getting spoiled compared and even moldy pretty soon – too soon compared to the expected date of expiry!

Why does it happen? Simply because we have no idea how to do it right!

But today we will explain what to do to make your oats last for a year!

So, what shall you keep in mind?

  1. The unopened package of dry oatmeal must always be kept in the cool, dry, and clean area. A home pantry could be a perfectly safe place for it
  2. In case the container is already unsealed, make sure you cover it tightly with a plastic bag that can be resealed. As an option, make use of any plastic or glass container, preferably airtight. It will protect the oats from the contact with moisture, as well as saves their flavor and texture. Such a method of storage will allow keeping the pantry-stored oats edible for one year past the best-by date 
  3. If your oatmeal is dry, we also suggest to you stock it safe in the frosting camera at zero degrees Fahrenheit. For this purpose, the foodstuff has to be packaged in a frost-resistant plastic packet

If you are bothered about those “use-by date” or “best-by date” signs, we want to tell you at once that they only indicate until when the content of the package will remain at its best quality. It has nothing to do with whether the oatmeal is safe to eat or not.

Basically, when stored correctly and following all the instructions, dry oatmeal will still remain safe to eat even past those dates! 

Does Oatmeal Go Bad
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Besides, if you store the oats frozen, they will keep their quality and will still be safe to consume for one year. However, even if you choose the pantry as a storage place, the foodstuff will still stay fine for quite a long period of time!

And one more handy tip for you to know: the second the packaged oatmeal is opened, try to consume it within a year since after that the product will not be safe to eat.

Useful Things To Keep In Mind About Oats

For some reason, we are used to the idea that oats are very durable and they don’t require any specific storage conditions.

However, the truth is that this belief is not quite right.

Useful Things To Keep In Mind About Oats
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Oatmeal is a rather sensitive sort of food, no matter whether it is kept in a pantry of the frosting camera. That is why we believe that it would be good to know several specifics of this product to avoid any misunderstandings with its storage.

  1. Never leave freshly cooked oats to cool for more than two hours since it will give the bacteria more than enough time to grow and spread which can lead to foodborne diseases if this food will be eaten.
  2. Store the cooked oats refrigerated, only give them enough time to chill before putting the dish to the fridge. Hot and steaming food can badly affect nearby products.
  3. Remember that the latest date when the cooked oats must be consumed is after six days past the day they were prepared!
  4. Keep in mind that oats tend to change their texture and flavor after some time. Their nutrition qualities will also degrade. But that doesn’t mean the product went bad.
HOW TO MAKE OATMEAL | the BEST oatmeal recipeHOW TO MAKE OATMEAL | the BEST oatmeal recipe

And remember that even though oats are not too demanding, it is better to be attentive and, if you notice any changes in their texture, taste, or other suspicious symptoms that remind spoilage, throw the foodstuff away to prevent any unwilling aftermath.

Everything You Wanted to Know About  Oatmeal Expiration

Does oatmeal expire
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As we have already mentioned, oatmeal is a pretty durable grain so you really need to make an effort to spoil it. 

Do oats go bad? Of course, they do. Oats are very sensitive to the excess moisture and temperature fluctuations which can start the spoilage process.

How do you define the expired oatmeal? Well, if it’s uncooked, examine it thoroughly. If you notice any traces of mold (it can look like a web a bit) or the grains change their color, you’d better discard the oats instantly.

When being cooked, old oatmeal usually has a bitter taste so you will easily understand that it is not good.

How to Tell Whether Your Oatmeal Has Gone Bad?

Oatmeal is not one of those foodstuffs that spoil easily and quickly once you open the packet. However, with time, even oats tend to deteriorate and their quality and taste will degrade sooner or later even if you store this foodstuff correctly.

Nevertheless, it is still necessary for everyone to know the basic symptoms of oats spoilage. Like this, you will be able to spot the very first signs of decay and act fast. If the food can still be saved, you will save it, and if it’s too late, you will discard it, preventing any unpleasant health effects from eating old oats.

So to define that your uncooked oatmeal is going bad, look for the following symptoms:

  • The oats became stale
  • Their color has changed
  • The oats developed flavors that are not palatable
  • You see mold inside of the container with your oatmeal
  • The oats developed dark spots
  • Your oatmeal is clumping

If you notice any of these, do not eat that oatmeal since it can be harmful for your health!

How to Tell Whether Your Oatmeal Has Gone Bad
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Storage Tips to Maximize Shelf Life

Oatmeal is quite a long-lasting type of food. However, it is always good to know what can be done to slightly extend that term of storage since we often buy oats in batches to use this easy to cook food throughout the year!

So for the uncooked oats, you must be sure they remain dry. Also, avoid exposing them to light, heat, and oxygen. It will help your oats last much longer. The best thing you can do is to keep them in a cool and dry place (e.g. a cupboard or a pantry) in an airtight tank made of glass, stainless steel, or ceramic.

As for the cooked oatmeal, it is better to be stored refrigerated in a container that has a tight seal.

And in case you decide to freeze your cooked oatmeal leftovers, keep it in an airtight box to avoid freezer burns.

Storage Tips to Maximize Shelf Life
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What Can You Do With Old Oatmeal?

If your oatmeal has become old, don’t rush to throw it away! Yes, it is impossible to eat this foodstuff anymore, but it does not mean it can’t be used in many different and useful ways!

  1. Use it for making gluten-free skin care DIY products, e.g. bath bombs, skin scrubs, etc. Oats will make your skin smooth and nourished so don’t miss such an opportunity!
  2. Old oatmeal can be used as a soothing remedy for the dry and irritated skin.
  3. Make a face mask from the old oatmeal leftovers.
  4. Or treat your hair with it to prevent split ends and promote hair growth.
  5. Old oats can even work as an odor-remover on your pets!

As you can see, discarding is not always the best choice.

Of course, if the old oatmeal you have looks and smells really bad, then its place is in the trash bin.

But if it is simply expired, feel free to keep on using it (well, only in somewhat different ways).

What Can You Do With Old Oatmeal
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Oatmeal is a very healthy and beneficial foodstuff that has become our staple long ago. Since it’s easy and fast to cook, we love using it in the morning for breakfast, and due to its neutral taste, it can be paired with many other products, e.g. jam, berries, and fruit, nuts, honey, cream, etc.

Can Oats Go Bad? FAQ

shelf life of oatmeal
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So now you are aware of the most essential information regarding oats. But life shows that it’s not the only thing that one needs to learn about this food.

We have collected several most frequent questions that you might ask regarding different types of oats and we hope they will be useful for you.

How long are rolled oats good for?

Like most of the oats, rolled type of cereals usually remains edible for two years at most.

What’s the instant oatmeal shelf life?

No matter whether it is unopened or already unsealed, instant oats will surely stay consumable for a couple of years.

Do quick oats go bad?

They do only if you make an effort. Otherwise, quick oats can safely stay in the cupboard for three years.

Rolled oats shelf life

When being stored in a tightly sealed tank in a cool and dry place, rolled oats remain consumable for 18-24 months.

Does instant oatmeal go bad?

Any oatmeal goes bad if it’s being kept under wrong conditions but normally, instant uncooked oats last for two years at most.

Can steel-cut oats go bad?

If you store this type of oats in a place with the high moisture level or in the improperly closed tank where vermins could get, steel-cut oats can get spoiled soon.

That is why be cautious and attentive when dealing with cereals to ensure they are still edible. Check the oats in your cupboard regularly to spot any signs of spoilage and to manage to prevent the rotting at its beginning.

We do hope that these simple tips will allow you to organize the oats-storing process better and more efficiently so that you will be able to enjoy this tasty and healthy food longer together with your family.

Written by
Elisa is a passionate cook who will advise you on healthy and delicious food topics! With her help, you will discover how to properly store and freeze food, as well as learn important nuances about preserving vitamins in your meals to make them stay nutritious.
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Health Warnings About Eating Oats/Oatmeal, Especially For Breakfast!Health Warnings About Eating Oats/Oatmeal, Especially For Breakfast!