A diet that’s gluten-free consists of cornmeal, doesn’t it? And why wouldn’t it when this organic food is easy to prepare? But does cornmeal go bad? And how to store cornmeal long term? These are the most frequently asked questions about cornmeal.
So in this article, I’m going to address them at length. Cornmeal does seem like a food item that you can store in your kitchen cupboard or pantry for many days and even weeks, right? But can you really do that? Nobody knows.
Every perishable food product has a shelf life, and so does cornmeal. So please continue reading to know all about cornmeal.
Does Cornmeal Go Bad?
Let me begin by stating that cornmeal does lose its flavor and texture along with color over time. But how soon that happens depends on how you store it. Every package of cornmeal comes with an expiration date. So storing that cornmeal past its expiration date does invite some changes.
These changes include the cornmeal losing its sweet natural flavor. Even the natural, pure oils present in cornmeal, which do an excellent job of acting as natural preservatives, tend to turn rancid. And this messes with the flavor of cornmeal.
When you store cornmeal properly, especially in airtight jars and containers, it holds its natural color and texture well. But if you decide to store it in the original packaging and leave it in your pantry for even a year, then you should expect some drastic changes.
And this might be the right time to ask the question, does cornmeal have black specks in it? The answer would be yes, of course.
What Is The Shelf Life Of Cornmeal?
Again, the answer to this question depends on the way you decide to store cornmeal. Typically, cornmeal comes in plastic bags, paper bags, or cardboard containers. Such a form of packaging tends to hinder the freshness of the food. It allows insects and moisture to enter, thus leading to the formation of mold and bacteria.
So it’s not only important but also necessary that you transfer the cornmeal to glass jars or airtight containers for storage. The sealable lid of such jars and containers helps in keeping moisture, insects, and other harmful substances away and out.
And if this is how you decide to store cornmeal, then it will remain fresh for at least 2-3 years. Isn’t that impressive?
How To Store Cornmeal Long-Term?
Does cornmeal go bad? It does, just like any other perishable food product. And that’s inevitable. But what you can control here is the length of the shelf life. The most efficient way of increasing cornmeal’s shelf life is by discarding the original packaging.
You need to store cornmeal in sealed glass jars and airtight containers. Do you know why? It’s because the original packaging allows contaminants to enter that give rise to moldy cornmeal. So it’s better to store it in your home jars and containers. But don’t forget to have a look at the cornmeal’s expiration date. It’s right there in the package.
You can then place the cornmeal in your refrigerator or freezer for long-term storage. Freezing cornmeal is considered to be an excellent way of preserving the shelf life of the food for as long as a year.
Whenever you want to use the frozen cornmeal, only remove what you need. Subjecting the frozen cornmeal to frequent temperature changes tends to spoil the whole batch. And if you don’t want to refrigerate or freeze it, then that’s okay too.
You can store cornmeal in a tight, secure container in the pantry as well. Many people make use of bay leaves to keep the cornmeal fresh for a longer time. Placing some leaves inside the jar helps in keeping weevils and moths away. Even garlic offers the same effect, but it leaves a stronger fragrance and flavor.
How To Tell If Cornmeal Has Bugs or Has Gone Bad?
When cornmeal becomes inedible, it takes many forms. Too much moisture leads to the development of mold. So in such cases, what you get is moldy cornmeal. And sometimes, it even causes fermentation. So it’s important that you look for these signs and discard the cornmeal once you spot any.
Cornmeal is whole grain, right? That means it contains fat. And where there’s fat, there are chances of it becoming rancid. But when you store this food properly, you slow down that process. Rancid cornmeal tends to give out an unpleasant smell and bitter taste.
Insect contamination is another spoilage issue when it comes to cornmeal. It’s not just molded in cornmeal that causes damage; insects tend to produce the same effect. When you spot eggs in little grain pockets or when the cornmeal has a chalky or dusty appearance, you know it’s not okay.
So how to keep these insects away? The best way to do so is by storing cornmeal in the freezer. Even refrigerating prevents insect infestation. But if you still want to keep cornmeal in your pantry or kitchen cupboard, then place bay leaves in the airtight container. They go a long way in deterring bugs.
Cornmeal is something that we use to prepare all kinds of delicious meals, isn’t it? This particular ingredient does an excellent job of adding crispiness to pancakes, meat, cookies, as well as vegetables.
So does cornmeal go bad? I hope you know the answer now. It all depends on how you store it, right? Airtight containers are the way to go. And if you want to avoid mold in cornmeal, then keep it away from hot temperature levels. That is why many people choose to freeze or refrigerate cornmeal.
How about you? How and where do you store cornmeal? I hope the article helped in solving your problem and answering all your questions about cornmeal. If there’s anything, you think that I’ve failed to discuss, please let me know. You can drop in your feedback in the comments section below.
Jen Lin-Liu is the founder of Black Sesame Kitchen. A Chinese-American writer and a nationally certified Chinese chef in Beijing. Jen is the author of two memoirs, Serve the People: A Stir-Fried Journey Through China and On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta.