Tofu is a popular protein substitution for a vegetarian or vegan diet. The question “does tofu go bad” is often the kind of question many who want to start consuming tofu more would wonder.
Tofu is nutritious and contains a lot of health benefits, and of course, I know you do not want to waste your food by throwing them away because of spoilage. Therefore, this article here will not only answer your question about if tofu goes bad or not, but will guide you with insightful information on how to properly store tofu so you can extend your tofu’s shelf life!
So, Does Tofu Go Bad?
In short, yes. Tofu has a shelf life and will go bad after a while. Some factors affecting tofu’s shelf life are as below:
- Best-by date: This is the date estimated by the manufacturers until the tofu can maintain its good quality. It is just an estimation, and the good quality can be prolonged for a while more if properly stored.
- Unopened or opened tofu: The moment you unsealed the tofu’s package and exposed the tofu to air, the quality of tofu will start to degrade faster.
- Preparation methods: This talks about whether you are storing an opened and uncooked or cooked tofu. Cooked tofu can last longer than raw tofu in the fridge for two or more days longer.
- Storage methods: This factor affects tofu’s shelf life a lot since there will be big differences in the length whether you store it at room temperature, fridge, or freezer.
Let’s take a look further at tofu’s shelf life, storage methods, and how to tell when tofu goes bad.
How Long Does Tofu Last?
Tofu and many other proteins usually have a best-by date, but this date only estimates the time that they can be at their best quality. That is why this best-by date is not an expiration date and can still be consumed even after the date has passed with the condition that they are correctly stored.
The explanations on the proper ways of storing different kinds of tofu will be in another section right below this. Let’s get started with knowing about tofu’s shelf life first!
Unopened Raw Tofu
Unopened tofus, are tofus that haven’t been taken out from the sealed packages yet. There are two types of unopened tofu, shelf-stable tofu and refrigerated tofu. The main difference is that one is stored at room temperature and the other is stored in the fridge when displayed in the supermarket.
Shelf-stable tofu, if remaining unopened, can be stored at room temperature until the best-by date.
Refrigerated tofu, if remaining unopened, can be stored in the fridge 3 – 5 days post best-by date.
Opened Raw Tofu
Once tofu is opened, either shelf-stable or refrigerated one, it should be kept in the fridge and used within 3 – 5 days after being opened, regardless of the best-by date.
You can leave out raw tofu, including ones made at home with premium tofu press, at room temperature in less than an hour before putting it back in the fridge.
If you forget and leave your tofu out at room temperature for more than an hour, it should be discarded due to the potential of developing health issues once consuming those tofus.
Cooked tofu can be left out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. Afterward, it needs to be stored in the fridge or be discarded.
Cooked tofu can be kept in the fridge for 6 – 7 days after it’s been cooked.
You can freeze raw tofu, but it should be opened and all the liquid needs to be drained first. How to freeze tofu is explained in the section below. When frozen, raw and opened tofu can be kept 3 – 5 months after opening from the original package.
Cooked tofu can be frozen, but it is not recommended since there will be a change in texture that is not very enjoyable. However, you can still freeze cooked tofu if you want to, and it will also last 3 – 5 months after opening from the original package.
Because tofu’s texture and flavor might change once thawed, it’s always better to use up tofu rather than freezing it. There are plenty of classic and authentic Chinese dishes that call for tofu in their recipes, so I suggest whipping up something tasty first before freezing your tofu.
As strange as it may sound, tofu is an excellent alternative ingredient for many types of cheese. When you’re in a pinch, tofu will be a great replacement for fontina cheese. Out of goat cheese, tofu is here to solve your issue. Need a vegan substitute for feta cheese? Go for tofu.
Table of Tofu’s Shelf Life
I will put all of the information above into this table so you can understand when tofu is good and safe to eat.
|Unopened Tofu (Shelf-Stable)||Until Best-by date.||It's shelf-stable, so room temperature is ok.||Should not be stored in the freezer directly.|
|Unopened Tofu (Refrigerated)||Should not be stored at room temperature.||3 - 5 days post Best-by date.||Should not be stored in the freezer directly.|
|Opened Raw Tofu (Both Shelf Stable & Refrigerated)||1 hour||3 - 5 days after opened from original package||3 - 5 months after opened from original package|
|Cooked Tofu||2 hours||6 - 7 days after opened from original package||3 - 5 months after opened from original package|
Next, I will explain how to store tofu properly to extend its shelf life.
How To Properly Store Tofu For A Longer Shelf Life?
Tofu’s shelf life will vary depending on its status. However, tofu can go bad much faster if it is not properly stored. Here, I will explain how to store tofu so you can maintain its good quality until the length mentioned above.
How To Store Tofu At Room Temperature
This should only be applied to unopened shelf-stable tofu. To properly store this kind of tofu, make sure you keep it in a dark space away from sunlight.
An opened raw tofu should only be kept at room temperature for food preparation or in a meal for less than 1 hour. After 1 hour, the tofu will degrade its quality and may cause you foodborne illness if consumed.
Cooked tofu can be kept at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours. Afterward, the tofu will also start to degrade and may cause foodborne illness.
How To Store Tofu In The Fridge
If tofu is still unopened, you can keep it in its original package and store it in the fridge.
If raw tofu is opened, do not use the liquid in the package. Instead, transfer the tofu or the leftover tofu into an airtight container, then submerge the tofu with fresh and clean water. Cover the container with the lid tightly, and store it in the fridge. The trick is to change the submerged water every day to keep the tofu fresh, and make sure you use fresh and clean water.
For cooked tofu, make sure you put it in an airtight container before putting it in the fridge.
You can see this video to know more:
How To Freeze Tofu
Do not store unopened tofu in its original package. Instead, open the package, and drain all the liquid inside. Then, put a paper towel on top and under the tofu to soak more liquid from the tofu.
If you think you will be using the whole block of tofu in the future, you can keep it that way. If you think you will not use the entire block all at once in the future, you can cut it into cubes. This way, you can take just the right amount you want to use from the freeze every time you crave them.
After finishing the process above, put the block of tofu or tofu cubes in the freezer bags or freezer-friendly airtight containers, or even wrap them with freezer wraps, and they are ready to be stored in the freezer. One tip – make sure you seal the container or wrap the tofus tightly so air can’t come in.
For cooked tofu, you can transfer the leftovers into a freezer bag or freezer-friendly airtight container. If there is liquid, make sure you don’t overfill the bag or container but leave plenty of space since liquid may expand once frozen.
How To Tell If Tofu Has Gone Bad
Tofu can get spoiled or rotten very quickly, especially when not being properly stored. Bad Tofu can cause foodborne illness, and you don’t want to get that from your tofu.
I will explain signs that show your tofu has gone bad so you know when it is time to discard your tofu. Sometimes, but not often, these signs will show up in tofu that is properly stored, too.
- Color changes: Normal tofu is white, but once it has gone bad, the color will change to something yellowish to a deeper and darker color.
- Changes in smell: Bad tofu smells sour and sometimes acidic, too. Any weird smell in tofu should be the reason to discard it.
- Changes in taste: If there’s a noticeable change in the flavor of tofu (such as your tofu turns sour or bitter), it is an indication that the tofu is spoiled.
- Changes in texture: When tofu has gone bad, its surface texture will become clotted and
- Mold: Black, brown, or any kind of weird spots on tofu indicates mold has been grown and should be discarded.
You can see this video to know more:
Here are two additional questions and their answers that you may have wondered about, too.
Let’s Make The Most Out Of The Nutritious Tofu!
Yes, tofu is nutritious and comes with many health benefits, but it is only good for you if its quality is good. Therefore, you should always try to store the tofu properly and consume it within the appropriate time.
It is never fun to have to go through foodborne illnesses from healthy food that has gone bad.
Have you tried the methods of storing tofu above? How did it turn out? Feel free to share with me your thoughts or experiences in the comment box below!