Can You Eat Expired Popcorn?

by Charlie

Popcorn is a type of corn kernel that expands and puffs when placed under heat and pressure. Popcorn originates from a corn family with various kinds such as dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, flour corn, and sweet corn.

Perhaps you went to your food pantry looking for a fun snack, only to find out that your bag of popcorn has already expired.

So, can you eat expired popcorn? Yes, you can. If your popcorn kernels have reached their expiry date and they are in good condition, it is still safe to eat. However, if the popcorn has mold or the popcorn bag has an evident tear, it is unfit to eat your popcorn since you may be exposed to bacteria. When the tear is visible, it is evident that your popcorn has absorbed moisture and won’t pop as effectively.

How Long is Popcorn Good after Expiration?

Dry popcorn kernels are common in stores and supermarkets. You only need to add oil and salt, heat them and wait for the pop. As for microwave popcorn, you need to just put your bag in your microwave and two to three minutes later, the popcorn is ready to eat!

However, you will find the use-by date of your popcorn passed, and you might find yourself asking the question, how long is popcorn good after expiration? There is no need to worry, dry popcorn kernels will last longer even after the expiration date as long as they are stored in an ideal environment. Avoid areas of excess moisture or extreme heat.

The estimated duration of dry popcorn kernels after the expiration date is six months. Unlike dry kernels, microwave popcorn and ready to eat popcorn tend to last shorter. As long as the packaging conditions are perfect, this type of popcorn might last a few weeks before going bad. 

Suppose the popcorn packaging is opened or compromised through a tear or moisture absorption. In that case, the popcorn is more likely to last for a short time—the result of compromised packaging results in the formation of mold and the inability to pop.  

How to Tell if Popcorn is Bad

Dry popcorn kernels are a variety that takes an extended period to go bad. They have the highest durability rate, although they also go bad. 

So how do you tell that your popcorn is unsuitable for human consumption? Well, dry kernels go bad after absorbing moisture, which will show mold growth. Also, they tend to dry up, which results in the inability to pop up after heating. If this is the case with your kernels, pop a lesser amount and observe the results.

Bugs become the worst enemy of grain storage. If bugs infest your popcorn, it is a sign that they are unfit for human consumption. Microwave popcorn tends to go rancid quickly, whereby you can tell by the taste. Oil or butter used in these popcorn types tends to get rancid, thus affecting the natural flavor.

As for ready to eat popcorns, the duration they stay fresh is concise. The texture will change with time as they will get soft and soggy due to moisture absorption. Therefore, it becomes unsafe to eat and should be disposed off immediately.

Generally, to tell if your popcorn palatable, heat a small amount, and if they pop, then you are good to go. But if your kernels don’t pop, it is right to assume that they have gone bad.

What Happens if You Eat Expired Popcorn?

Expired popcorn should not necessarily mean it is bad or harmful. You may be wondering, what happen if you eat expired popcorn? Popcorn that have developed mold may be detrimental to your health and pose bacterial infections. Food poisoning causes severe problems and could be dangerous.

Popcorn served in movie theaters poses risks health-wise due to the large amount of oil and salt used to prepare popcorns. Fats pose a high risk of obesity through high cholesterol levels. 

Microwave popcorns are heated in a microwaved bag, which releases a chemical coating that breaks down and becomes absorbed into the popcorn. Diacetyl, the chemical used to create butter flavoring, is responsible for respiratory diseases, also known as ‘popcorn workers lung.’

Therefore, you should be careful how you store your popcorns and always observe food safety.

How to Store Popcorn to Increase Shelf-life

Popcorn comes in different types, shapes, and sizes. They include dry kernels, microwave packages, and ready to eat popped popcorn. You might be wondering, how can you store your popcorn to increase shelf-life?

During storage, the essential elements to be avoided entirely are moisture and air. Your popcorn packages should be stored on a cool, dry shelf, preferably, the pantry. Kitchen cabinets act as quality storage space. It helps to avoid moisture at all costs to prevent mold formation on the popcorn kernels. 

The popcorn packages should be airtight during purchase and should be sealable after opening. If this is not the case, you can use a rubber band to seal the bag tightly. Alternatively, you can empty your kernels into a jar after use and close the lid tightly to block out any air.

Your shelves or kitchen cabinets used to store your popcorn should be dark and unable to allow light in. it helps prolong your popcorn’s shelf-life.

Final Thoughts

  • Dry kernels tend to last longer after the expiring date than microwave popcorn or ready to eat popped popcorn. It may, however, not stay fresh for long if exposed to moisture.
  • Sogginess and inability to pop are the common indicators for bad popcorn. Dry kernels may lose the ability to pop easily while ready to eat popcorns become soggy due to moisture absorption.
  • Eating expired popcorn might react differently depending on the ways of storage. Damp and soggy popcorns have a nasty taste, and ones with mold may result in stomach upsets. They are likely to cause diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
  • The main concern with storing popcorn, especially dry kernels, is to keep it in a cool, dry place for longer shelf life. 

You may also like