Chia is a plant of Mexican origin related to the mint plants. Its seeds are edible and extremely rich in antioxidants. Unlike other plants in this family, chia seeds have a mild, nutty taste.
Recipes with chia seeds require small doses of this ingredient, usually only half a teaspoon. Once you buy a package, you can’t spend it quickly, so you will probably ask yourself do chia seeds go bad. The answer depends on several factors. Let’s see.
Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?
Chia seed has a long shelf life. However, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which means your seeds will go rancid over time if you store them improperly.
Still, rancid seeds are actually not spoiled, but rancidification changes their taste and smell. Unfortunately, they will also lose their vitamins and nutritional properties to the extent that consumption becomes meaningless.
Chia seeds won’t go bad even when stored for years, but you can’t prevent decreasing their quality over the years. Therefore, it is crucial to find a way to save their quality and flavor intact as long as possible.
How Long Do Chia Seeds Last?
Chia seeds last longer than other nutritious seeds, such as sunflower and flax. The reason for this is antioxidants that prevent spoilage. If you keep chia seeds in your pantry, they will remain safe to eat for almost two years after the best before date.
The reason why the packaging says Best before instead of an expiration date is chia seeds’ resistance to external changes, such as temperature and humidity. The manufacturer always prints the best product quality date, but the seeds remain edible for a long after that.
If you decide to store chia seeds in your fridge, they will remain in good condition for up to three years. However, chia seeds by-products, such as gel or pudding, last only a few days.
Chia seeds shelf life
|Unsafe||3 to 5 days|
5 to 7 days
You need to keep chia gel and pudding exclusively in the fridge. Left in the pantry, it will break down on the first day, regardless of whether it is a purchased or home-made product.
Flour made from chia seeds and the one with added seeds can stand in the pantry for up to six months after the expiration date.
6 Tips to Tell If Chia Seeds Have Gone Bad
In rare cases, chia seeds quality is so compromised that there is no point in storing or eating them. There are a few clear indicators that you need to buy a new package.
- Smell – Chia seeds can go rancid after a few years. The most striking change is the intense, unpleasant reaction that shows oxidation has occurred. Although the product is not unhealthy, a strange smell means that chia seeds are unusable because they have lost their nutrients in the process of rancidification.
- Lumping – Once the chia seeds go bad, moldy, or rancid, they will start lumping. Open the jar and shake it. If you notice that the seeds stick to the walls, one to another, or most of them stuck on the bottom, throw them away.
- Sliminess – Chia seeds are generally dry. If you take some seeds by hand and find them slimy and stick to your fingers, they have expired and are no longer safe to use.
- Pantry bugs – Pantry bugs can’t infect chia seeds, so they are not a threat to your health. Still, the thought of using seeds with bugs crawling across can be disgusting. You can save such seeds by freezing them for a day or two and cleaning it of the bugs after thawing. In my opinion, it is easier to throw away a full jar and buy new seeds.
- Taste – Chia seeds have a mild, neutral but recognizable taste. If you sense bitterness when you prepare them, they got spoiled. A change in taste can occur because they have become rancid, contaminated, or bacteria-infected. Either way, don’t eat these seeds.
- Mold – If you expose your seeds to moisture for a long time, they will grow mold, and you will notice a white scrum in between. Consuming moldy food can seriously endanger your health, so it is best not to use such seeds.
6 Tips to Store Chia Seeds
Long-lasting food such as chia seeds is easy to store. You can keep a weekly portion in the pantry and larger quantities in the fridge or freezer. The general storing guidelines and tips apply regardless of which of these three storage locations you use:
Once you buy chia seeds, you should transfer them from the original packaging to a glass container such as a Mason jar. You can also use a plastic plate, but glass better provides stable conditions and prevents spoilage.
Plus, you can quickly notice any visual change on your seeds in a transparent vessel. At the same time, you will find it easier to remember to use them if you can see the jar contents than the one in impractical cardboard or plastic packaging.
Never scoop seeds
If you have a small portion of chia seeds an arm’s length, you should pour them directly into your cereal bowl or cooking pot.
That way, you will avoid contaminating the whole package by scooping with a spoon that may be carrying dust or leftovers from other foods. You can also pour the seeds in a spoon or measuring cup rather than dipping utensil in the jar.
It is vital to seal tight the container with chia seeds because excess air can speed up the rancidification process. Plus, that is the way to prevent mold development and pantry bug infestation. Consider resealable zip lock bags if you store seeds in the fridge or freezer.
You need to examine chia seeds from time to time, regardless of whether they are within the shelf life. Use Mortar and Pestle to crush two to three teaspoons of seeds and check for spoilage indicator. If you notice that seeds start going rancid, freeze them immediately to prolong their lasting.
You can use this foil to line the container where you store chia seeds. Don’t forget to cover them from above after pouring. The foil will further prolong the chia seeds’ life by keeping them secured from moisture.
Grow chia plant
Sprouted chia seeds have a higher nutritional value than those in the purchased package. If you get a chia plant or seeds to grow them on your own, you should inquire about the conditions in which your seedlings will thrive best. An additional planting bonus is that you will always have fresh seeds whose quality you are sure of.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Chia Seeds
As I have already mentioned, you can safely eat chia seeds even a few years after the expiration date. The worst potential risk is a taste that is no longer tempting to consume.
However, there are certain risks in cases where you overdo it with chia seeds. Daily intake of more than two teaspoons of seeds can cause gastrointestinal problems, blood thinning, and lower blood pressure.
If you are allergic to mint, there is a chance that chia seeds trigger an allergic reaction. Symptoms can vary depending on the reaction’s intensity and may include swelling, watery eyes, runny nose, and breathing problems.
Can You Freeze Chia Seeds?
Freezing is an easy way to preserve a large chia seeds volume for up to ten years. All you need to do is make sure that there is no excess air or moisture in the freezer container or bag.
You can divide the seed bag into smaller quantities that you will defrost every month or every other month.
Keep in mind that crystallized water molecules react with the seeds during thawing and cause them to swell and release mucus-like fluid. If you freeze wet, soaked, or washed seeds, you can expect to get chia gel after thawing instead of the crispy dry seeds.
You can also freeze home-made chia pudding. It will last for up to two years in the freezer. Keep in mind that the liquid can separate after thawing, so it is necessary to stir it well before serving.
Once you want to take the chia seeds out of the freezer, leave the container at room temperature overnight. In the morning, sprinkle them on a paper towel and leave them to dry out for an hour or two before use. Store the seeds in a glass jar and place them in your pantry.
Chia seeds are incredibly healthy and have a long shelf life. You can store them in a pantry, refrigerator, or freezer for years. Over time, they go rancid, lose quality and nutrients, and even mold can affect them when stored inappropriately. In such a case, it is better to throw them away.