Tofu is widely known as one of the healthiest and protein-filled substitutes for meat. It is as versatile as to be as equally at home in chili as it is stepping in to take the place of scrambled eggs. Even when utilized in soups and pasta dishes, the humble tofu can boost the protein content of these dishes. One doesn’t exactly have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these benefits, it is a remarkably easy ingredient to work with and easy to get familiar with. So, for some of us who like cooking with tofu, it can be tempting to stock up on a whole load of it at once. After all, it’s a processed and plant-based food – it’s gotta stay good for ages, right?
Well, the answer to this is both yes and no. It really depends on how long it is stored and how. Like most other food products, it does generally have a sell-by date printed on it. But, this date can effectively end up being nearly irrelevant if the tofu is stored incorrectly. So, in this little article, we will not only go through the best ways to store tofu for a longer shelf-life but we will also show you the signs that your tofu may not be good enough to eat anymore. So, if this is the kind of knowledge you are looking for, look no further.
Also read our Best Tofu Press Reviews for 2020 and Best Air Fryer Reviews 2020 to help you face 2 main tofu-related issues: drying and frying it.
The Best Way to Store Tofu
Tofu will inevitably go bad, there is no two ways about it. However, you can do your bit to prevent this happening prematurely by following the quick and easy directions below. How long your tofu will last will depend on whether its packaging has been opened or not. To start, we will go through the best methods of storing unopened packages of tofu.
Though there are two types of tofu on the market; those that need refrigeration and those that don’t, refrigerating an unopened package that states that it can be stored in the pantry won’t damage it. As such, if there is any doubt, we would always recommend erring on the side of caution and opting to store unopened tofu in the fridge.
Once a package of tofu is opened, it is effectively a ticking time-bomb unless it is stored correctly. For example, if it is exposed to air or high temperatures (higher than the fridge, even) it will begin to go off rapidly. So, when storing, it is of utmost importance that your tofu is stored in an airtight container. But, before you do, please check the label to see does your chosen tofu demand that it be stored submerged in water, or just as is. If no information on this is specified, using the submersion method is your best bet. We’ll run through how exactly to do this below:
Storing tofu in water
The first step in this process is to use a container that you are absolutely sure is airtight. Should the container be breached in any way, not only will it let moisture out but it will also let in unwelcome odors from your fridge. These can also flavor the tofu over time. Once you’ve checked this, you can place your tofu in the container and fill it up with clean, fresh water. Make sure that you fill the container to the point where none of the tofu is above the surface. Lastly, tofu demands that the water it is stored in is constantly fresh. Stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria so we would recommend changing out the water every day, or every other day.
How Long Does Tofu Last?
Nearly all tofu manufacturers will put a printed date on their packaging. 9 times out of 10, this will be a sell-by date as opposed to a use-by date. Because of this, if your tofu is stored correctly it can keep for a little bit longer than the date on the package. This is true for tofu that hasn’t yet been opened, but in the case of opened tofu, you won’t be able to keep it for that long without resorting to freezing it. With this in mind, our best estimates are that an unopened package of tofu can last for up to 5 days beyond its sell-by date. In the case of an opened package, stored correctly in the fridge, realistically this should be consumed within 4 days of opening. Frozen tofu, though capable of surviving for up to a year will taste far better if consumed within 3 months – which is still a considerable amount of time! Though these estimates shouldn’t point you in the wrong direction, variations can occur if the package has been inappropriately handled during transit or in the supermarket. Because of this, we would advise having a quick read of the section below which will teach you how to look for the signs that your tofu may not be safe to eat.
Signs That Your Tofu May Have Gone Off
Tofu, though it contains absolutely zero dairy content, tends to show similar signs of spoilage to cheeses. The most noticeable of these, and the one that may make its presence known first, is a pungent smell. This smell should hit you straight away when you open the package and will be somewhat reminiscent of spoiled milk. Next up in the list of things to look for is mold. Mold is an instant call to throw the entire thing away. Do not attempt to cut around it, only taking the good parts. Simply chuck the whole lot out. Occasionally, neither of these signs will be present and the tofu will only let you know it has gone off by means of a sour taste. Unlucky for you if this has happened as it can be quite vile. Naturally, the only option is to throw it all away at that point. As a general rule, if you have had the tofu for longer than our recommended period, the chances are very high that it won’t be any good.
Should Tofu be Frozen?
Tofu can be frozen and actually performs quite well under these conditions. However, if your tofu comes in a sealed bag with water content, be careful! These can explode and leave you with a nasty bit of clean up to do. Beyond this risk though, there are actually some real benefits to freezing tofu. For one, the act of freezing it makes the texture of the tofu change. When thawed and used in dishes, you should notice that it will have a much meatier texture.
How to freeze tofu
In order to effectively freeze tofu, the first thing you should do is to drain all of the liquid from the packaging. Next up, the tofu should be cut into the sizes that you prefer to cook with. Once you have done this, you should then wrap each individual chunk or slice in plastic wrap, then place them into freezer bags. By doing so, you will save yourself a lot of effort later on as you can take them out to thaw individually. Doing this will also enable you to store bulk-bought tofu for considerably longer.
Tofu Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Questions
Is tofu gluten-free?
Tofu, when sold devoid of any additional elements is gluten-free. However, it is relatively common that manufacturers will flavor the tofu with additional ingredients, most of which will consist of wheat-based soy sauce. As such, if you are looking for gluten-free tofu, reach for the plain version.
Does tofu have lots of carbs?
Foods like tofu and tempeh are high in protein and fat but relatively low in carbs. Though not carb-free by any stretch of the imagination, they can work excellently well for those looking to implement a low carb and high protein diet.
What is tofu made from?
Tofu, or bean curd, is made from coagulated soy milk. Once the coagulated soy milk has solidified enough, it can be pressed into solid chunks. Tofu can be made in various textures; silken, soft, firm, and extra firm.