Okay, so you've prepared a huge lasagna feast for the family, but you really overestimated the portion sizes, and you've got a heap of leftovers to store away. It's always good to have too much, rather than not enough, but at this point, you may be asking yourself, "how long does pasta last in the fridge?"
Food safety is incredibly important, so it's essential to get your timings right. You don't want to be feeding your family spoiled or moldy pasta, after all. You can store your leftover pasta in the fridge safely for several days, but the exact length of time depends on the type of pasta, whether it's been homemade with a pasta maker, or bought from a store.
In the interest of food hygiene, we asked our experts the question: how long does cooked pasta last in the fridge? Here's what they had to say.
How long does leftover pasta last? The answer to that question depends on a few factors. Pasta can be homemade, store-bought, cooked fresh, or cooked after dehydration. The shelf life of pasta really can vary, so you need to consider the ingredients and sauces that have been added.
Let's say that you've cooked your pasta, and now you need to know how long you can store that cooked pasta in the fridge. Here's a quick rundown of common expiration lengths:
As you can see, no pasta, once cooked, is going to last longer than 5 days. In fact, if it's been in the fridge that long, it's probably best to get rid of it. Pasta lasts longer if it's been cooked in a sauce, such as leftover spaghetti bolognese or in lasagna, as this helps to preserve the ingredients. Pasta made with egg is also not going to last as long as pasta made without eggs.
While we always prefer making homemade pasta from scratch, we also know how convenient it is to have dry pasta in the cupboard. Once it's been cooked, dry pasta lasts as long as homemade pasta!
But dry pasta is a kitchen staple, precisely because you can keep it stored for a long period of time, as long as you don't cook it. We're often asked, does dry pasta expire? Unfortunately, like everything, it does. But it takes a long time to reach that expiration date.
In fact, dry pasta, if sealed, can stay in the cupboard for up to 2 years, without spoiling. So how long does uncooked pasta last if it's freshly made? Not quite so long. Fresh pasta only lasts a matter of days, but you can learn to dry out your own homemade pasta for long-term pasta storage!
Does pasta expire? Does pasta go bad? Yes. Regardless of whether it's dry or fresh, cooked in a sauce or not, all pasta goes bad at some point.
Bad pasta can pose a number of problems for your health. The reason we need an answer to the question 'how long can pasta sit out', is because cooked pasta starts to attract all sorts of microbes and bacteria. These are drawn to the moisture which is present, and many of these can be hazardous.
Bacteria can cause stomach upsets, food poisoning, and in severe cases, long-term health problems or even death; luckily, though, it's fairly obvious to catch spoiled pasta before you start eating it!
If your cooked pasta is in the fridge and has started growing mold, then it's a sure-fire sign that it's gone bad. If your refrigerated pasta has begun to smell, then it's time to throw it out. If it's slimy, if it's gooey, or if it's become discoloured and just doesn't look right, then don't risk it, dump it!
If you've purchased your pasta from the store, then it will have an expiry date stamped somewhere on the packaging. If you've purchased fresh pasta, then it's even more important to stick to these expiry dates.
However, if you've purchased dry pasta, then generally, it doesn't spoil for two years (which can be beyond the given expiration date). Just be sure that the dry pasta doesn't smell or look discoloured before you start cooking with it.
Storing fresh pasta correctly, whether cooked or uncooked, is an important step towards improving food safety.
Storing dry pasta is simple. You leave it in the packet and keep it in the cupboard. If you open the packet, transfer the remaining dry pasta to a resealable container.
Learning how to store fresh pasta is a little more complicated if you want to keep things fresh. The first options are either freezing fresh pasta or drying fresh pasta (although this removes the fresh element). The other option is storing your fresh pasta in the fridge, which can be done safely for up to 2 days before cooking.
It's perfectly safe to freeze your pasta, and it can help to extend your cooked pasta shelf life by several months. If you're freezing cooked pasta, then transfer it to a resealable container or a ziplock bag before placing it in the freezer.
You can safely store cooked pasta in the freezer for up to 2 months. If you've made lasagna or have already smothered your pasta in sauce, then you can also freeze these dishes in the same way.
If you're deliberately cooking pasta to freeze it, then we recommend only cooking the pasta until it's al dente. This makes it easier when you're defrosting and reheating later on.
Learning the best way to reheat pasta can help you to retain as much of the taste and flavor as you can when it's time to eat those leftovers.
If your pasta hasn't been cooked in sauce, then the simplest reheating method is to place the pasta in boiling water for 1 minute. You could also do this in the microwave to save time.
If your pasta has been cooked in sauce, then you need to reheat it slowly. You can do this in the oven (this works well for lasagnas), or using a large skillet. Simply place the heat on medium, and stir frequently until the pasta and the sauce are cooked through.
Pasta is a great dish to prepare for a quick dinner, an elegant date, or an elaborate dinner party. With these tips, you'll make sure to get the most out of your pasta.
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