Does Popcorn Go Bad?

Can popcorn go bad or not? How long does popcorn last and how do you spot rancid popcorn? Here is the ultimate guide.

You’re all ready for your Netflix night in, blankets all around you, and some hot chocolate in your hands. But wait. You’ve forgotten the most important thing of film night. Popcorn!

You might have some in the back of a cupboard from who knows when . . . will that still be edible?

Worry not! We have all the answers you need! Today, we’re running through popcorn storage, how long popcorn lasts, and how to tell if it’s gone bad.

Related:Does Cornbread Go Bad?Does Cornmeal Go Bad?Does Corn Syrup Go Bad?

What Is Popcorn And Can It Go Bad?

Popcorn is known as a key snack in film nights, theatre or any fair and can even sometimes be used in desserts or sweets. On top of that, popcorn is known for being a healthy snack. As a high-fiber whole grain and low(ish) in calories, popcorn is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes, and weight loss compared to other popular snacks!

With all its versatility, popcorn can come in different shapes and forms. From dry kernels to popped popcorn bags or even microwavable packs. Of course, all of these types will have different shelf lives.

Most popcorn will have a “best by” date rather than a “use by” meaning it’s not unsafe to eat after that date. With proper storage, popcorn can last a long time past the date on the label. However, the quality of the popcorn will diminish the longer they stay in the cupboard!

How Long Does Popcorn Last?

Dry kernels have an indefinite shelf life and will last for years in good quality although they can eventually dry out. You can always try to put a teaspoon of water and shake them to put some moisture in them before popping them if you believe them to be dry.

Microwavable popcorn includes fat inside the packet which can go bad in between 3 to 4 months. In most cases, it’s usually worth a try even if the pack is a couple of months past the date. You can always throw it away after popping them if something doesn’t look right.

Popped popcorn, even though the easiest, is also the first one to expire. Usually lasts 2 to 3 months if the package is unopened. You can still consume it a few weeks after the date on the pack, but the more time passes the more quality they’ll lose.

Once you open a pack of popped popcorn, always keep it sealed and you should aim to finish it within a week for best quality or they will go stale.

How Can I Spot Rancid Popcorn?

Dry kernels don’t usually ‘go bad’ in the way we are used to. As mentioned before, they will dry out and might lose some quality, but very unlikely will grow mold or smell unless exposed to moisture. The best way to spot bad kernels is to attempt popping them. If the majority doesn’t, they are probably too dry to consume.

The fat in the microwavable popcorn can go rancid and make the packet smell or look off. The taste will also be off if you pop them, so it will be clear they shouldn’t be eaten. Throw them in the bin!

Popped popcorn, similar to kernels, won’t grow mold or smell unless there’s moisture involved. However, the taste will fade and the popcorns will grow stale. If they’re chewy, you should get rid of them!

Can I Eat Expired Popcorn?

Even though unpleasant, popcorn won’t make you sick if you eat it past its best quality. Popcorn might be dry and stale or rancid if microwaved, but won’t be a health problem.

How To Properly Store Popcorn

All types of popcorn are stored pretty similarly.

Room temperature is ideal – you shouldn’t refrigerate or freeze popped popcorn or dry kernels. Some microwavable packets will recommend it, and therefore you should follow the packet instructions.

Popcorn should avoid air or moisture, always kept sealed or in an airtight container and avoiding direct heat or light. Usually a kitchen cupboard or pantry does the best job!

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Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.