Great in yogurt, cereal, or even as a binder in meatloaf, chia seeds are quite the popular foodstuff these days. So, how long do chia seeds last and do you need to store them in any special way?
Chia seeds are pretty hardy and properly stored, will last anywhere between 2 and 4 years. Stored in the pantry or the freezer, usually you’ll get 2 years from an unopened package, although freezing usually ensures the best texture and with both methods, the seeds taste their best if eaten within the first year. Vacuum sealing may last 2 to 4 years, as the vacuum sealing process helps to prevent the seeds from oxidizing, so this is your best bet if you’re looking to stock up for the long term.
This is a subject that definitely warrants a closer look, so today we’re going to talk about Chia seeds and what you can expect with different storage methods, and we’ll also cover how to tell when those seeds have gone bad so that you’ll know when it’s time to replace them.
How long do chia seeds last? Let’s take a closer look so that you’ll have the answers and the facts behind them!
Chia Seeds – How long are they supposed to last, anyway?
Chia seeds have really grown in popularity of late and are beloved around the world for their nutty flavor and their high nutritional value – which, incidentally, comes into play when we talk about their expected longevity.
Guessing when something as durable as seeds can go bad is a tricky thing – with regular foods, you can just think of the ingredients, but with chia seeds, the biggest reason that they go bad is also one of their nutritional perks – the omega 3 fatty acid content. Simply put, the oils in the seeds are what drive the shelf life and that means that unopened seeds in your pantry will generally last up to 2 years.
With seeds you’re storing in the pantry, as long as they’re cool and dry, then you’ll want to defer to the manufacturer’s date and it’s important to check – these dates can vary quite a bit between manufacturers, with such a long shelf life, you’ll always want to check right away to ensure you’ve got a fairly fresh batch.
Also, keep in mind that just because they might last 2 years, that doesn’t mean that you should wait that long. Your pantry-stored chia seeds are going to taste their best within the first year, so you’ll usually want to break open that package and store away what you won’t be eating using one of the methods we’ll describe in the next section.
Storage methods for your Chia seeds
While chia seeds are stored pretty well in the pantry, there are certainly other options and some perks that go with them, as well. In this section, we’ll take a look at these options and also cover some considerations for each that you should keep in mind when you are choosing the storage method that is best for your needs.
Let’s take a look!
Room temperature/Pantry Storage
While the manufacturer’s ‘use by’ date should be your go-to estimate, Chia seeds are usually stored in the pantry for up to 2 years as long as it’s cool, dry, and dark.
Even expired, as long as they aren’t showing any overt signs that they have gone bad (which we will cover in a later section), they can still usually be eaten, but after that mark, they’ll have a lot of nutritional value and are usually best utilized by baking, rather than tossing into your yogurt or cereal. Expired chia seeds also won’t be as crunchy, so it’s really best to throw them out after 2 years have passed and as a general rule, they’ll taste their best after the first year.
Once you’ve opened that package, you can store raw chia seeds again in the pantry but it’s really better to separate your seeds into portions and store them by refrigeration, freezing, or vacuum sealing to get the most shelf life out of the remaining seeds.
That said, if you still want to store them in the pantry once opened, put the remaining seeds in a plastic or glass airtight container. Glass is usually best since you can check it out with a magnifying glass in the light from time to time to make sure there aren’t any bugs or telltale moisture spots that indicate they need to be thrown out.
When storing chia seeds in the refrigerator or freezer, your shelf life gets doubled, so your seeds will now be good for up to 2 years. Since they have a long shelf life anyway, the fridge is a popular option for many, and if you consume them within the first 2 – 3 years they’ll still be pretty yummy, although it’s really recommended to eat them within the first 1 to 2 years
You’ll want to store them in a plastic or glass airtight container, or you can go with Ziploc baggies if you like.
While you get a long shelf life in the refrigerator, some folks feel that the texture and flavor are kept best when they are frozen and this is usually the driving factor for freezing because you still get an estimated 2 years of storage time.
When you freeze them, it’s best to use an opaque storage option, such as a colored plastic container or bag, unless you don’t mind the color changing on your seeds. While the flavor isn’t affected, freezing your chia seeds in a clear plastic container or baggy usually results in the seeds lightening over time.
When you are ready to eat them, you don’t have to thaw them if you’ll be baking them or whipping them up in a smoothie, but if you will be sprinkling them in yogurt, cereal, or other foods, then you may want to let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour before you add them in for the best texture and flavor.
Vacuum sealing your chia seeds lets you put them in the fridge, freezer, or even the pantry, and you’ll get a very mighty 2 to 4 years of storage time. That’s because removing the air from the package keeps your seeds from oxidizing and it also keeps pests from sneaking into the batch and munching on or otherwise decimating your seeds.
If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, you can try putting them in a Ziploc storage bag and closing it up to the corner, where you’ve placed a straw. This lets you suck as much of the air out as you can before sealing it and while this certainly helps, it’s nowhere near as good as a real vacuum sealer – machines like this Geryon vacuum sealer are inexpensive and well worth the investment for the sheer longevity they impart on many of your favorite foods. As a bonus, they’re also great for sealing mix-and-match lunch items in advance, if you like to bring a lunch to work and like the idea of a ‘pick and choose’ buffet sealed and ready in your fridge or freezer!
How do you know when Chia seeds have gone bad?
Telling when your seeds have gone bad is a little different from your usual foods – but once you know what to look for, it’s really not that hard. Here are some things to keep in mind and to keep an eye out for when determining if your chia seeds are still edible:
- Look for clumping – Seeds shouldn’t stick together on their own, so if you have little clumps of seeds then that means there is moisture or some kind of sticky substance holding them together – it’s time to throw them out.
- Invest in a magnifying glass – A lot of symptoms of bad seeds can be hard to see, so a magnifying glass is ideal. This will let you see if there are bug shells, eggs, dead bugs, or even live insects moving around that you might otherwise not see until it’s too late. If you find any of these things, then throw the seeds away.
- Slimy seeds get thrown out immediately – Another sign that moisture has compromised your storage is a gelatinous, slimy material in your chia seeds. When chia seeds come into contact with moisture, they naturally produce a gelatinous coat, so if you notice this then you’ll know right away they’ve basically gotten wet and need to be discarded.
- Silky spiderwebs are a red flag, too – Silky webbing that looks like a spider has been in your seeds is actually a telltale sign of another pest – the pantry moth. Pantry moths produce a silken webbing around the foods that they eat, so if you see it in your seeds then consider the batch infested by pets and throw it in the trash.
- Bitter aroma – Chia seeds normally have a pleasant, nutty smell to them, but when they’ve gone bad they tend to smell sharply sour or bitter. It is pretty pronounced so when you smell it, you’ll know!
It’s almost time for us to wrap things up, but before we bid you adieu, we’ve got some frequently asked questions on the subject of chia seeds and their longevity that we hope you’ll find useful. Let’s take a look!
Do chia seeds really last longer in the fridge?
Yes, like most foods, the refrigerator keeps them fresher and tastier for longer, and ideally, you can get a glass mason jar to store them in so that you’ve got an airtight container and you can easily view the insides. For best results, quickly pour out what you need and reseal and if you don’t want the color to change on your seeds, you can simply paint the jar and this should do the trick nicely.
How long can you soak chia seeds before they go bad?
You could soak them for hours, but anything over 20 minutes is overkill, really. In 20 minutes, the soaking chea seeds will have produced their distinctive gel coat and will taste their best. Keep in mind that soaking them for longer doesn’t really do you any favors – the nutritional content will degrade the longer they are in the water and they simply won’t taste as good.
A soaked chia seed can remain soaked in milk, almond milk, or water for a delicious breakfast overnight. Chia seed pudding is best left soaked and not to a chia seed dry out.
We love a good chia pudding!
How long do soaked chia seeds last in the fridge?
If you like to soak your seeds in advance, then you can soak them for 20 minutes, pour out the liquid, and they’ll store for up to 5 days in the fridge before you’ll need to throw them out.
Today we’ve answered the question ‘How long do chia seeds last?’ and the rough answer is ‘2 to 4 years – depending on how you store them’. In the pantry, fridge, or freezer, you’ll have 2 years of storage time in most cases, although you should check the vendor use-by date and go with this.
Stored in the fridge or freezer, they will retain their best flavor and texture, and for the longest storage, vacuum sealing can get you up to 4 years of storage time in the fridge, freezer, or even the pantry. Just keep in mind that with long storage times, the ‘best by’ date is usually half the anticipated storage time, so eating your seeds the first year is best unless it’s vacuum sealed, and then they’ll taste top-notch for up to 2 years, and slightly less the longer you wait.
If you have some feedback and tips that you would like to share, then please do! Chia seeds are really quite the popular foodstuff, and we’re curious what you’ve found in your experience to be the best storage and snacking uses for these yummy superfoods.
Thanks so much for visiting and we wish you and yours the very best!