Canadians throw away an estimated 170 kilograms of food a year. While some of this can be attributed to overproduction and an aversion to imperfect produce, consumers can reduce waste by learning how to properly store their foods. Quinoa offers incredible health benefits, including protein, fiber, and antioxidants, making it an essential staple for your pantry. However, quinoa has specific storage requirements in order to maintain freshness and longevity. Follow proper storage procedures and careful maintenance to ensure safe consumption and reduced food waste in your kitchen. 

Determine Your Quinoa Shelf Life

Different types of quinoa have different storage requirements and shelf lives. Uncooked quinoa should last up to three years when kept in an airtight container in a cool, dry, place. Cooked quinoa will last in a refrigerator for one week, or a freezer for about six months to a year. Quinoa flour will go rancid after about three months because of its high fat content, so be sure to store it in an airtight container, as well. There is always some variability in shelf life depending on temperature, dryness, and oxygen exposure, so monitor your quinoa regularly and err on the side of safety when deciding when to dispose of it. 

Storing Your Quinoa

In order to ensure freshness, make sure that you store quinoa in a truly airtight container. Once you remove it from its original packaging, make sure to transfer your quinoa, cooked or uncooked, to a container with a tight-fitting lid. In terms of storage, mylar bags and mason jars work especially well for keeping things sealed. Determine how much you need to store, and consider storing large quantities in smaller, portion-sized containers to reduce regular oxygen exposure. Uncooked quinoa can also be stored with oxygen absorbers, which extend shelf life and reduce spoilage

The back of a pantry is the best place to store uncooked quinoa, because of the dry, dark environment, but you can also store it in a refrigerator or freezer. Always make sure that your refrigerator is set to 4°C or lower and your freezer is set to -18°C or lower to prevent bacteria growth. This is especially important when storing cooked quinoa, which will spoil more quickly. Once cooked, allow quinoa to cool slightly, but do not leave it at room temperature for too long, as this will encourage bacteria growth. If possible, keep it in the pot or pan that you cooked it in in order to reduce oxygen exposure during transportation.

Check For Freshness

Once your quinoa is stored, you’ll need to check it regularly to ensure freshness. Contaminated foods can pose a health risk and create symptoms such as nausea and headache, so it is essential to watch out for spoilage to reduce this foodborne illness. It may not always be obvious when uncooked quinoa has gone bad, but check for a foul odor or any visible insects in your supply. Another way to check for spoilage is to inspect your quinoa for visible signs of mold growth, which is referred to as “stained quinoa” and should be thrown away immediately. 

It may be easier to spot spoiled quinoa once you attempt to cook it. Rancid quinoa will produce an irregular, hard texture and an odd taste. Quinoa that has already been cooked should be disposed of after one week in the refrigerator, even if it does not show any obvious signs of spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out!

Quinoa is a superfood in every sense of the word: it has versatility, nutritional content, and delicious taste. Make sure you’re practicing safe storage habits and reducing your overall food waste by storing your quinoa with care.