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How to Tell if Tofu is Bad

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If you’re a vegetarian or looking to incorporate more plant-based protein in your diet, chances are, you’ve heard how great and delicious tofu is. This Asian delicacy is made from soybean curds that are processed and turned into creamy white soft blocks.

Aside from being a good source of protein, tofu is rich in other nutrients such as phytoestrogens, isoflavones, antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

These nutrients can help in reducing the cholesterol level in your blood, eliminating free radicals that can promote cancer cells, improving bone strength, and controlling menopause symptoms in women.

Silk tofu cheese

Despite all the benefits, eating healthy doesn’t just come from eating healthy food. You should always maintain good hygiene and avoid eating bad or spoiled food that can expose your body to illnesses. And like most food, tofu can become spoiled over time.

But how can we know if tofu has spoiled?

One of the best ways to spot whether tofu is spoiled is to look at its color. Fresh, raw tofu is usually white or cream in color.

Once tofu has gone past its expiration date or spoiled early due to contamination from outside exposure, it can turn brown or slightly tan.

You can also notice visible signs of mold growing in and around it.

When in good condition, it does not matter if the tofu is opened or unopened, it does not produce any smell. So, if you notice any pungent or sour smell, then that is another obvious sign that your tofu has spoiled.

As for cooked tofu, it can be quite hard to discern just from its appearance because certain recipes can alter its color, which can mask any visible signs of spoilage from the outside.

However, the same principle still applies to most food. If there’s a change in its odor and taste, then something is wrong.

If your cooked tofu has a sour or rancid taste and smell, it is definitely spoiled. If there’s a growth of mold, then that’s another cue that your cooked tofu is spoiled.

Cubes of smoked tofu

What Happens if You Eat Expired Tofu?

Like most food, expired tofu is most likely to go bad after its best-by date. If possible, you should not eat it.

Consuming expired tofu is definitely unhealthy, especially for your digestive system.

Raw or cooked tofu that has passed its expiration date may exhibit signs of spoilage such as mold and bacterial growth. When you eat expired or spoiled tofu, there is the probability that you will experience food poisoning symptoms like fever, nausea, cramps, and vomiting.

In some cases, you might have unopened tofu that has passed its expiration date by a day or two. This is where you should use your best judgment by checking its condition thoroughly. If it looks good, proceed with caution, and quickly consult your doctor if you feel unwell after eating it.

But if you notice even the slightest change in its smell or texture, you should throw it away, without hesitation!

Does Tofu Go Bad in the Fridge?

One of the best ways to extend the shelf life of tofu is to keep it in the fridge. Tofu can go bad in the fridge, but it won’t be as quick as when you keep it outside or in the pantry.

When keeping raw tofu in the fridge, don’t open or take it out of the package until you choose to use it. But if you want to keep cooked tofu in the fridge, use an airtight container and keep it away from other foods, especially raw meats, and fish.

Fresh cut pieces of tofu

Does Tofu Actually Expire?

No matter how well you keep it, tofu can expire over a certain period. You can always refer to the expiration date labeled on its package.

However, depending on where you keep it, tofu can have different shelf lives – some shorter, some longer. But it won’t last forever!

For instance, tofu that is kept in the pantry or at room temperature won’t last as long as the one that is kept in the fridge. And tofu that is kept in the fridge won’t last longer than frozen tofu. Temperature fluctuation is one of the biggest factors that contribute to the length of its shelf life.

How Long Does Opened Tofu Last in the Fridge?

Although keeping opened tofu in the fridge can extend its shelf life, you should consume it within 3 to 5 days after it’s opened. This is because once the package is opened, your tofu is more prone to be exposed to temperature fluctuation, outside air, and other contaminants that will fast track its spoilage.

Although the fridge may be squeaky clean, there is no telling what kind of microorganisms can enter the fridge every time you open it.

Why Does My Tofu Taste Sour?

Tofu is made from soybean curd. So, it will taste creamy and slightly nutty. If you notice any sour taste or smell, then your tofu is spoiled. This sour taste doesn’t just come without an odor. Even without tasting it, you can use your nose to detect any pungent or unusual smell.

Extra firm tofu on plate

How Long Can You Keep Tofu?

Whether it’s raw or cooked tofu, its shelf life varies depending on the place you choose to keep it. There are also other factors that influence how fast tofu can deteriorate and become spoiled, such as changes in temperature and hygiene levels.

Generally, raw, unopened tofu can last 2 to 3 months in the fridge, if there is no contamination inside the fridge. You can also keep it in the pantry, and it will last the same.

As for cooked tofu, it is advisable for you to eat it as soon as you can. But if you plan to keep it, place the tofu in the fridge and it may last up to 4 days.

As always, no matter where you keep your tofu, always check the expiration date to avoid keeping it for too long only to discover later that it is already spoiled.

How Long Does Unopened Refrigerated Tofu Last?

As mentioned before, unopened tofu can last in the fridge for up to 3 months. But if you’re buying in bulk and choose to keep it for a very long time, you can place it in the freezer. Frozen tofu can be preserved in the freezer for several months, even up to a year!

However, it is advisable to keep frozen tofu for around 3 to 4 months only. Like most food, it will expire and after you defrost it, do a quick check to ensure that there is no sign of spoilage.

Defrosted tofu might not be as soft as the one that you kept in the fridge. So, only use it for certain recipes that go well with firm or slightly hard tofu.

Cut tofu in the glass bowl

Can You Eat Slimy Tofu?

Slimy tofu should be thrown away, regardless of its expiration date. If your tofu looks slimy, it is spoiled.

You can also notice an unpleasant odor coming from slimy tofu. Fresh and good tofu will have a clear texture without any presence of slimy liquid or pungent smell. Although some tofu has high water content, it also won’t appear slimy.

Why Is My Tofu Package Bloated?

Different types of products are packed in different styles of packaging. Some are tightly sealed to prevent outside contamination while others may appear slightly bloated with bulges that can prevent crunchy or fragile food from breaking into pieces.

As for the tofu, you will rarely see it being sold in a bloated package. This is because the presence of air and moisture inside the package can promote the growth of microorganisms such as mold and bacteria.

So, if your tofu package is bloated, the content is already spoiled, and you should throw it away.

Can You Eat Tofu Raw?

Many popular tofu recipes out there have made us think that this food should only be eaten after it’s cooked. But what if you want to consume it raw?

Can you eat tofu raw?

Unlike some other foods, tofu is safe to be eaten raw, given that it’s clean and free from contaminants.

But truthfully, tofu isn’t completely raw because the soybeans used in tofu production would have been boiled and cooked first before the coagulants are added to turn the milk into large blocks.

Depending on the type of tofu, you might get a different taste and texture. For instance, tofu that has high water content would be softer and wetter than tofu with low water content. Hence, not every recipe is suitable for raw tofu.

The most important thing that you should be aware of when eating raw tofu is the hygiene level and the place you keep it.

If you store unopened raw tofu in the fridge along with other raw meats, then eating it uncooked would be unwise. But if it’s unopened and doesn’t show any signs of spoilage, wash it thoroughly before eating.

Raw tofu in a container of water

Why Is Tofu Packed in Water?

Tofu is usually packed in water to maintain its consistency and smooth texture. Unlike dried foods, tofu needs water to avoid its content from losing moisture. Without water, you will notice that tofu will lose its bulky shape.

This is also another reason tofu should be kept in an airtight container or tightly sealed package. Aside from preventing outside air and contaminants from entering the package, water won’t be able to seep through the package.

If possible, opened tofu should also be kept in a tight container that is filled with water. You can replace the water occasionally to ensure that the tofu is fresh and won’t spoil due to dirty or contaminated water. 

Final Thoughts

Like most foods, you can extend the shelf life of tofu with proper hygiene and by keeping it in the fridge or freezer.

And if you decide to store it in the pantry, don’t open the package until the moment you want to use it.

But most importantly, always check its best-by or use-by date to avoid consuming spoiled tofu that has gone way past its expiration date.