So, you’ve bought a gigantic bag of chia seeds as part of a health kick and noticed that you don’t need all that much at a time. It is an easy mistake to make. Given that chia seeds are highly absorbent, swelling to multiple times their original size when they come into contact with water, it is easy to overestimate how many you need. For example, when making vegan substitute eggs or adding them to smoothies, the recipe rarely calls for more than a teaspoon. So, this will no doubt begin to be a cause for concern after you see that you’ve barely made a dent on the bag after a few weeks. Well, all may not be lost. To make sure you don’t have to throw out large amounts of chia seeds, we have put together a guide on how best to store them, how long they can last, and how to tell if they have gone off. If this is the type of info you’re after, read on!
(Also Read: Best Vegan Pumpkin Bread + Pumpkin Chia Pudding Parfait / Blueberry Chia & Jam Bars)
Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?
Though a quite resilient foodstuff, chia seeds are not exactly indestructible and will begin to spoil at some point. This date can be lengthened dramatically if the right measures are taken, however, so it is possible that your chia can last much longer than expected. For the best methods of doing this, check our section below on how best to keep them for a long shelf-life.
How Do I Store Chia Seeds?
There is no real rocket science or magic behind storing chia seeds that haven’t been opened yet. However, they do have very little resistance to a few elements – water, in particular. For example, if water gets into the bag or container of chia, the whole lot of it will be spoiled within a matter of days. Though the effects won’t e as drastic, the bag should also be stored well away from sources of heat and direct sunlight. Naturally, the best way to do this is to opt to store them in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet.
As soon as a bag or packet of chia seeds has been compromised, it becomes a little more urgent that a little care is taken when it comes to storage. Any moisture in the air whatsoever will find its way into the seeds if they are not protected. So, in some cases, the chia seeds will come in a bag that is easy to reseal. If so, great, because all you will need to do is to do up the bag again and return the seeds back from where they came. However, if the bag can’t be resealed don’t just fold it over and return it to the shelf. Instead, we would advise finding an airtight container for them before returning them from where they came.
Should You Refrigerate Chia Seeds?
When it comes to pre-made chia products or chia seeds that have already absorbed moisture, the only place to keep them is in the fridge. However, with just the basic ingredient – the seed, there is no need to refrigerate them. Not only will it not expand the shelf life of the raw ingredient, but it could actually harm it. This is because of the fact that, in every fridge, there is moisture and odors circulating. Either of these will destroy your chia seeds in no time at all if left unchecked. However, by using an airtight container that doesn’t let in any light, chia seeds will store really well under these conditions.
Can You Freeze Chia Seeds?
Both chia seeds and chia meal will store for an incredibly long time if stored correctly in the freezer. The key thing to remember when doing so is to use an airtight container that is not transparent. By doing this, you will protect the seeds from light and from freezer burn and they should last quite some time.
How Long Do Chia Seeds Last?
If you have taken all the right steps while storing your chia seeds, there is no reason why they won’t last even longer than the already quite generous sell-by date. This is due to the fact that chia seeds naturally contain high levels of antioxidants that act to preserve the seed much longer than you would see with other seeds. So, if your chia seeds are gone beyond their sell-by date, there is no real reason to chuck them out straight away. In fact, there is no reason that they may not still be good for up to a year after their printed date, provided that no moisture has gotten in. If the chia seeds have been stored in the fridge or the freezer, it is even possible that they may well still be totally fine for up to two years beyond their best-by date. It really depends on whether the right measures have been taken at every stage of their storage.
How Do I Make Chia Seeds Last Longer?
The most important thing to consider in order to make your chia seeds last longer is excluding them from the atmosphere in your home. Though chia may seem really sturdy as it is protected by a shell, they can still go rancid long before the sell-by date if they are not maintained correctly. So, to stop this happening, your best bet is to always keep them in a sealed container of some sort. Secondly, keep them away from sources of light and heat which can cause their oils to leak out. Finally, though it may be tempting to buy them from a dispenser, chia bought in factory-sealed packages will generally last for a much longer time.
Signs That Your Chia Seeds May Have Gone Off
The signs that chia seeds have gone off range for the horrifically obvious to the almost undetectably subtle. These signs will range in severity depending on what the chia seeds have been exposed to, and for how long. So, let’s start from the easiest to spot sign and work our way into the less subtle ones. The first sign of spoilage to be on the lookout for is any swelling in the packet or mold. If any moisture has gotten into the package, you can expect this to happen within the course of a few days. If you do notice this, don’t try to dig around the moldy ones to save the good ones. If some have gone off, the likelihood is that they will all be gone off, just to a lesser degree.
The next sign of spoilage will begin to happen if the seeds have been exposed to too much heat or sunlight. It won’t be as easy to notice when this has happened, but not exactly impossible either. Consider the smell of fresh chia seeds. They are somewhat nutty in aroma, though this is a mild aroma. Should this aroma have disappeared entirely and been replaced by another aroma, something is wrong. At worst, this smell will be a very definite gone off, rancid, odor. At best, the smell could be described as vaguely better. In either case, these chia seeds will not possess a good flavor and will ruin any dish they are used in. As such, it is best to just discard them and not take any chances.
Regarding any other auxiliary signs; sometimes your chia seeds will not show any of the above signs of spoilage but will still have a bitter, gone off flavor. Given that chia isn’t really meant to possess any strong notes of flavor, the best thing to do is to discard them if that changes. At this stage, they probably won’t make you ill, but it is best to err on the side of caution.