Oatmeal can be stored safely from two months up to twelve months depending on the packaging. Airtight packets of single serving oatmeal have the longest shelf life, indicating that air exposure is damaging to the nutrients in oatmeal.
Can Oatmeal Go Bad?
Per the Whole Grains Council, whole grain oats can be stored in your pantry for up to four months with no loss of nutrition or flavor. If frozen, they should last up to eight months.
However, if you're freezing whole grain oats or oatmeal to cook in small batches, use individual packets to avoid moisture exposure due to condensation.
Whole grain oats contain more moisture than oatmeal, and the small amount of fat within the whole oat can go rancid or be a breeding ground for bacteria.
SEE ALSO: What Is Farina?
If you're adding whole oats or steel cut oats to your diet, purchase small containers until you've got a good idea how much you're going to consume each month.
It may be more costly at the beginning, but it will save you having to throw away spoiled oats.
Oatmeal, once processed from the whole oat, has a shorter shelf life. Oatmeal in the freezer should keep for four months, and in the pantry for two.
When possible, store oatmeal with as little air exposure as possible to reduce the risk of nutrient loss through oxidation.
Does Oatmeal Expire
Per Mary McNally of LiveStrong, researchers at Texas A&M cooked up twenty-eight year old oatmeal.
Not only was it aesthetically acceptable, it still contained many of the nutrients we expect from oatmeal.
LiveStrong does not recommend this practice. It seems that the two biggest threats to oatmeal long term include exposure to too much air and moisture.
Instant oatmeal, stored in individual air tight packets for easy, one-serving portions, can be stored for up to twelve months with no loss of nutritional quality.
How to Store Oatmeal
While dried oatmeal can be stored for extended periods of time, cooked oatmeal won't keep for more than a week in the refrigerator.
Food experts at NoshOnIt.com offer a great idea for preparing steel cut oats ahead of time for easy preparation in the morning.
As steel cut oats take longer to cook, having a starter batch will make breakfast a lot faster!
The base recipe features steel cut oats, soy milk, cinnamon and cranberries. Once this is done, cool it and load it into refrigerator containers (glass jars will work) filling the containers no more than 2/3 full. Cover and chill.
When you're ready to eat it, add a splash of milk or cream and microwave for 2 minutes on medium, stirring halfway through. If you prefer, add fresh fruit and nuts once hot.
Steel cut oats are made by chopping whole oats, and pack a powerful nutrient punch. Per LiveStrong.com, they offer much more fiber than instant oatmeal, 10% of your daily iron needs and plenty of protein.
The complex carbohydrates in steel cut oats will keep you feeling full and loaded with energy for your morning.
History of Oatmeal
Oats are a cool weather grain, and were first planted by settlers in North America on 1602. President Washington grew almost 600 acres of oats in 1786.
As European settlers moved west, oat production in the United States moved to the Mississippi Valley, where this crop is still grown.
Oats have fed both livestock and humans for centuries.
Oat bran is known to reduce blood cholesterol and contributing to heart health. This product also provides fiber for the digestive tract.
Both whole grain oats and processed oatmeal are great sources of fiber, complex carbohydrates, and protein. If you're facing a rough day of cold temperatures or just need a solid breakfast under your belt, start with a bowl of oatmeal!