Tofu is a soy product, like soy sauce, but has been condensed into solid blocks. It’s a highly adaptable product that can be used to add protein to nearly any type of food.
Because it’s vegetarian-friendly – with no dairy, you may assume that it has a long shelf-life, but does tofu go bad? And how long can you store it for?
If there is a manufacturing date on your tofu, you should expect it to stay good for 2 to 3 months beyond that date if stored correctly. Once opened, tofu should be refrigerated and used within 5 days.
Oddly enough, tofu has a similar shelf life to many meat products and should be stored along the same lines. It can go bad, and quite rapidly.
Tofu Shelf Life & Expiration Date
Tofu may come packaged with a manufacture date, a best by date, or both. The best by date is just an indication of how long the product will remain at optimal quality – often it will stay good for longer, or shorter if stored incorrectly.
Tofu usually comes packaged in water. This helps it keep its shape, retain moisture and freshness.
- Unopened Tofu – can last 3-5 days beyond the best before date in the fridge, or 3-5 months in the freezer.
- Opened Tofu – use within 3-5 days of opening, regardless of any printed dates. Will retain best quality for 3-5 months in the freezer but will stay good indefinitely.
- Cooked Tofu – Eat within 3-5 days.
How To Tell If Tofu Is Bad
Even stored correctly, tofu tends to have a short shelf life. Eating bad tofu can give you food poisoning, so it’s important to be able to recognize when it should be discarded. Bad tofu may have some or all of the following qualities.
- Color changes – if your tofu begins to darken and turn yellow or tan, this indicates it is bad.
- Texture changes – if tofu takes on a curdled appearance or starts to loosen, it is spoiling and should be thrown out.
- Bad smells – fresh tofu will have very little odor. If you detect a sour or rancid smell, throw it away.
- Mold – as with all food, tofu that has developed mold is not safe to eat. Any signs of mold and you should discard the entire block.
Related | What Does Tofu Taste Like?
Can You Eat Expired Tofu?
As mentioned above, tofu that is past its best before date may still be safe to eat, possibly even up to a week, but it’s best to eat it as soon as possible.
If tofu has gone bad, you should not consume it.
Spoiled tofu may harbor bacteria that can cause food poisoning, resulting in stomach pains, diarrhea, fever, and vomiting.
There are vegan and vegetarian food experts with great concerns about the safety of soybean products in general. Much of the world’s soybean crop is grown in the United States, and many of these crops are grown from genetically modified seeds.
How To Store Tofu
If you plan to use your tofu within one week, you should refrigerate it. Before opening, it’s fine to keep in the fridge in the original packaging.
- Once opened, move tofu into a container and submerge it in water. Filtered water will extend its life.
- Store this airtight container in the fridge.
- You will need to change the water every day to maintain freshness.
Note that some brands of tofu don’t require refrigeration before opening.
If you purchase tofu that wasn’t stored in the refrigerated section, you can store it at room temperature until opening. After that, it must be refrigerated.
Can You Freeze Tofu?
If you buy tofu that you aren’t planning to use within one week, it is best stored in the freezer. It will undergo some texture changes when frozen, but many tofu fans enjoy the firmer, chewier texture of frozen tofu.
Tofu will be yellow once it’s thawed, instead of white. In the kitchen, it may be best to treat them as two different foods, because they behave very differently!
When deciding whether or not to freeze tofu, it’s important to consider what you need it to do in the dish you’re preparing. If you’re making a creamy dip, use fresh.
If you’re making a stir-fry or a stew with chopped vegetables, previously frozen tofu will work well. Can tofu be frozen? Yes, and to very useful effect!
The easiest process is to freeze tofu in the original packaging. Be aware that tofu comes to the grocery store in its own water, so freezing it in water will cause cracks in the block of tofu once thawed. If you’re using it for crumbles, this will be ideal.
You can drain your tofu before freezing if you prefer – unwrap the tofu and lay it on multiple layers of paper towels on a plate. Cover it with more paper towels, settle another plate on top, and let it drain for thirty minutes. Wrap it in plastic to protect from freezer burn, and freeze for up to three months.