Quick Answer: Tofu can go bad if left for too long without consuming. Different factors contribute to this, from leaving it out at room temperature, to just not eating it within an allotted time causing the tofu to spoil, even if unopened.
In this quick guide we shall take a look at the shelf life of tofu, and how you can make it last longer.
So, let’s get to it!
What Is Tofu?
A lot of people choose to eat tofu (or bean curd as it is often referred to) as an alternative to meat due to it being seen as a healthier option. It is both high in protein and nutrients, but also very low in calories, making it ideal for many diets.
The soy-based item is also a big staple ingredient when it comes to those who consider themselves a vegetarian or vegan. It can be placed as the protein portion of a meal, and is highly versatile to use with many dishes.
Not only that, it is completely gluten free as well, so it can pretty much be enjoyed by most people.
Whilst it might not be meat which comes with its own storage and shelf life problems, tofu will go off eventually. So, before we delve into the likelihood of tofu turning bad, let’s look at the different varieties.
Varieties Of Tofu
Tofu originally came from China over 2000 or so years ago. Over time, the love for tofu has spread across to its neighbors, and is one of the most popular ingredients to use within Southeast Asian and East Asian food.
It also isn’t a meat alternative either, and it is just another delicious ingredient to add to food. That is because it is very easy to make in a similar way to cheese.
Soy milk is coagulated to form a curd. This is then pressed and made into a block which is solid.
Whilst it does have a subtle flavor, this means that it will compliment a lot of different dishes making it even easier to use. However, despite it being easy to add to a dish, sometimes a particular type of tofu is needed. For example:
Regular tofu is a little firmer than other types, though the firmness can change depending how much of the water has been removed.
To create, when the curd is pressed, the water squeezes out. The more water that is released from the curd will result in a much firmer tofu. If a lot of water is left in, then it is a softer tofu.
Because of its versatility, it means that regular tofu can be soft, a little firm, and then firm.
Silken tofu has a very soft texture and doesn’t go through the steps where it is curdled and pressed. It leaves the end result of the tofu very silky, delicate and soft.
One that isn’t as commonly used in the western world is egg tofu. It is made in the exact same way as any other tofu, however eggs are added at the same time the soya milk is.
Doing so creates a tofu taste that is rich in egg flavor and the texture is very soft.
Can Tofu Go Bad?
Tofu can go bad, just like most edible items. Whether it has been opened, cooked or left in its packaging, unfortunately tofu can become something that you shouldn’t eat.
Is There A Way To Tell Tofu Has Gone Bad?
Even though the tofu might have an expiry date, or you have followed the rules on storing it, sometimes it just goes bad. And anyway, it will go bad if left – whether for a few days if opened, and a couple of months if unopened.
For this reason, you will want to know what tofu looks like when it has gone bad. So, here is what to look for:
What Bad Tofu Smells Like?
If the tofu looks pretty good, but you aren’t sure whether you should be eating it, then giving it a smell is a good idea. If it has a strong smell which isn’t very nice, or it smells a little sour, then it is time to get rid of it.
Tofu doesn’t have a strong aroma and is quite delicate, so it will be easy to distinguish between good tofu and bad tofu.
What Bad Tofu Tastes Like?
If the tofu looks pretty good, and darn it smells great too, then tasting it might give you a clue as to whether it has gone bad or not. Take a small bite out of the tofu and if it has a sour undertone, or just tastes generally bad, then discard it.
No amount of seasoning or sauces will make it better, so getting rid of it will be the best option.
What Does Bad Tofu Look Like?
Most of the time, you can tell tofu has gone bad just by looking at it. There are a number of indicators that show how bad a piece of tofu has gone. For example, if there is mold attached to it, well, it obviously needs to be thrown away.
However, there are some indicators that might seem a little less conclusive. For example, the color. To the untrained eye, people think tofu is brown in color because they are more likely to see it cooked. However, tofu is generally white.
So if that fresh tofu starts going brown then it is time to part ways and say goodbye.
If the tofu is unopened and the package looks bloated, it means you have left it too long to eat. It is to do with the gas inside the package produced by bacteria. Yum.
How Long Can Tofu Last Before Going Bad?
Tofu will go bad at some point, that is why it comes with an expiration date. However, like with any food, it should only be looked at with guidance in mind, rather than a hard set rule, afterall, food can go bad before it even reaches that date.
That is because of a few factors, from the way it was stored, whether it was cooked or fresh, or if it hasn’t been opened yet.
If you store the tofu properly, there is a likelihood that it will last much longer. If you don’t store it well, then you are asking for the tofu to go bad. So, let’s take a look at how long tofu can last before going bad:
Tofu That Has Been Opened
Just like with any food item, once you open it, its days become shorter. That is because you have removed it from its protective shell, and bacteria can enter at any given moment.
Also, storage on some items is different once a package has been opened.
When it comes to tofu, once it has been opened, you are looking at it lasting for up to 5 days if it has been left to keep cool in the fridge. If you left it out of the fridge, then throw it away.
If it has been 3 or 5 days and it looks strange, or smells bad, then get rid of it. It isn’t worth eating!
Tofu That Hasn’t Been Open
When a packet of tofu hasn’t been opened, then you will want to look at the expiry date or even the best before label. This will be the best indication of how long it will last before using it.
Usually, an unopened packet of tofu will last around 2 or 3 months at most when placed inside a refrigerator. If you decide to leave the tofu out, then expect it to last up to 5 days only.
Tofu That Has Been Cooked
If you have cooked leftovers, you can store it in the fridge once it has cooled down to room temperature. Make sure you place it in an airtight container and eat it within 5 days. In fact, the quicker you eat it the better.
If you are reheating the cooked tofu, always make sure that it is piping hot first before serving to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Tofu That Has Been Frozen
Putting tofu in the freezer is one of the best ways to make it last longer and to preserve its freshness. Doing so will keep the tofu available to eat for up to 4 months in total.
Once you thaw the tofu however, do not refreeze it otherwise you risk suffering from food poisoning as bacteria can multiply faster.
Instead, once it has been thawed, cook it thoroughly until it is piping hot and serve.
What Is The Best Way To Store Tofu?
It can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to storing tofu. As delicious and delicate as it can be to eat, the last thing you want is for it to go bad and be a waste of money – oh, and a dish ruined.
So understanding how to store tofu is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that once you come round to using it, it is still fine to eat.
It isn’t uncommon to bulk cook food, or have leftovers from a big meal. Instead of throwing it away, food is possible to store and then reheat to eat on another day.
Fortunately, you can store leftovers of tofu. To do so, once they have cooled down to room temperature, place them into an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator.
However, you only have up to 5 days to possibly eat it, so the quicker you consume it, the healthier it will be for your body, otherwise you risk an attack from bacteria.
Also, when you reheat tofu, just like with any food item, always make sure it is thoroughly cooked and is hot before serving. Otherwise, you do risk food poisoning.
Opened Pack Of Tofu
If you only use some of the tofu, then you are still going to have some left sitting inside the packet, and that’s fine. To make sure it lasts, remove it from the packaging and place it inside either a ziplock bag or airtight container.
To make sure the tofu doesn’t dry out from the cold, add a small container of water to keep its moisture levels up. It will also keep the tofu fresh and ready to be used.
For optimum freshness, replace this water every day, though you might want to also use the tofu up.
If the tofu pack is unopened, then you will find this is the easiest solution out of them all. Just place the packaging into the fridge and leave until you need to open it.
No prep, no special thing to do, just leave it until you require it for a dish.
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