There are only a few things as satisfying as a steaming hot, spicy bowl of ramen noodles. This dish, despite originating from Korea, has made its way across many borders and is now readily available in most stores. You can easily find a package of instant noodles and stock them up in the pantry for your mid-day or late-night cravings.
But the burning question is, do ramen noodles expire or go bad? Well, yes, there is definitely an expiry date on ramen noodles and it is best to eat them before this date while storing them in the correct way.
What is the Shelf Life of Ramen Noodles?
When it comes to ramen noodles, their actual shelf-life depends a lot on the type of noodles you have. However, boxed instant ramen noodles have the longest shelf life. If unopened, you can easily expect them to last for a year or more.
If you’re serious about expiration dates, you should always look at the best-by date on the packaging and label. As packaged food contains preservatives, the good news with ramen noodles is that they are generally still safe to eat months past their expiration date.
Wheat ramen noodles have a different shelf-life because they are not as processed as instant ones. They usually expire in less than a year. These noodles can also be consumed a few months after the expiration date as they take time to actually degrade.
Lastly, fresh ramen noodles have the shortest life and expire much sooner. You can keep fresh noodles in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks at most. Storing them for longer is possible, only if you freeze them.
Keep in mind that these are estimated values and the actual expiry depends on the brand as well as storage conditions. It is always best to look at the date on the label.
Why Instant Ramen Noodles Have A Longer Shelf-Life?
You may be wondering how it is possible for ramen noodles to last for years. Well, this is simply because the packaged noodles are completely dry and dehydrated. There is no water or oxygen in the packet, so it is hard for microorganisms to thrive in there.
The key to preserving ramen noodles as long as possible is to avoid opening the packet until you are ready to cook them.
Another factor is that deep-frying ramen noodles reduces the water content and also prevents the growth of bacteria.
One more contributing factor in their long shelf-life is that they are packed with Vitamin E. This vitamin is an antioxidant; delaying the oxidation of ramen noodles.
What Spoils Instant Ramen Noodles?
The truth is that eventually, ramen noodles do get spoiled. One reason for this is the additional ingredients included in the packaging. Even if the noodles don’t go bad, the sauces or veggies that come with them are not very long-lasting. They can still absorb moisture which might create mold or bacteria inside.
Another factor that goes into spoiling ramen noodles is that while manufacturing, they are pre-fried to remove any water. We simply boil them to cook them completely but they are pre-cooked for the most part. The important fact to remember is that being pre-fried food products, they will eventually go bad.
How to Tell if Ramen Noodles Have Gone Bad
Typically, if no moisture has made it inside the packet and all the contents look dry; your ramen noodles are probably not spoiled and you’re good to go.
Before you roll up your sleeves and start preparing your broth and ingredients for a perfect bowl of ramen noodles, you need to be sure that they have not gone bad.
There are a number of physical signs that indicate when ramen noodles are going bad. You can also tell that they are spoiled if you notice their flavor.
Here are some signs that spoilt ramen noodles usually exhibit:
- An unpleasant, off-putting smell coming from the packaging, noodles, or the additional ingredients in the packet
- The presence or development of mold on the noodles
- Discoloration or spotting on the noodles
- An unusual texture or color
- A different, or weird taste that you can instantly pick in the first bite
- An expiration date past three months
What Happens After Ramen Noodles Have Expired?
The expiration process is very gradual for ramen noodles. Ramen noodles slowly change their texture, appearance, and taste over a period of time, which is why it is not unsafe to eat them a couple of months past their expiry date.
A useful way to understand the expiration of ramen noodles is by looking at the different phases they go through:
- 6 months post expiry date: The noodles will look and taste just fine. But the included sauces or soup will taste bland or rancid. This is because, over time, the flavor will lose its potency. Hence, you won’t be happy with the overall taste of ramen.
- 18 months post expiry date: By this point, the ramen noodles will have gone bad too. You can expect them to taste similar to cardboard and you can get an upset stomach from them. The soup will also be foul-tasting.
- 24 months post expiry date: When you open the packet, there would be an immediate, unpleasant smell. You might feel that the noodles are oilier and the soup might even make you vomit. Plus, you can expect to get an upset stomach in addition to not enjoying the noodles at all.
Technically speaking, instant noodles do not go bad in a way that you are off-limits from eating them. They are not unsafe per se, but the stale taste and increased likelihood of an upset stomach mean you are better off avoiding them.
Our recommendation is to avoid eating ramen noodles if it has been more than 3 to 6 months past their expiration date.
How to Store Ramen Noodles
If you wish to store your ramen noodles in the best way possible and prevent them from spoiling, all you need is a clean, cool, dry spot that is away from sunlight.
Another tip is to place the packet in another cardboard or plastic box. Remember that you need to avoid humidity and prevent any moisture from seeping into the packet.