Cornmeal is a staple in many homes because it has a lot of carbs, which are one of the most important macronutrients we need. If you plan on trying cornmeal and wonder if it goes bad, the quick answer is yes.
Cornmeal packs come with a "best by" date, which provides an estimate of the length of time the product will maintain its quality but doesn't equate to its expiry date.
When stored properly, degerminated cornmeal lasts up to a year when stored properly, while whole grain cornmeal lasts up to six months. When cooked or turned into porridge, cornmeal lasts up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge and only 1 to 2 days at room temperature.
Read on to learn how long cornmeal lasts, how to tell if the cornmeal has gone bad, tips on proper cornmeal storage, and other related topics.
Table of Contents
What is Cornmeal?
In simple words, cornmeal is coarsely ground corn. Dent corn is the type of corn commonly used to make cornmeal due to its medium hardness. Cornmeal comes in different grind sizes, but the smaller the size, the faster it absorbs moisture and cooks.
There are different types of cornmeal:
1) Corn flour, which is the finest and is used in making batter and baking goods.
2) Fine and medium cornmeal, which is commonly used to make corn muffins and pancakes.
3) Finally, coarse cornmeal has a crunchy, pebble-like texture.
Cornmeal products are also classified depending on their color. Yellow cornmeal has a strong corn flavor, while blue cornmeal tastes sweet, and white cornmeal has a mild flavor.
Does Cornmeal Go Bad?
Unfortunately, all types of cornmeal go bad. However, unlike corn on the cob, which only lasts for up to 7 days even when refrigerated, cornmeal is a dried product, making it lose the moisture that causes food spoilage. Depending on the storage techniques, uncooked cornmeal lasts 6 to 12 months, while like fresh corn, cooked cornmeal only lasts 5 to 7 days.
How Long Does Whole Wheat Cornmeal Last?
Whole wheat cornmeal results from drying the corn kernels and grinding all parts of them, including the germ. The germ is the soft part at the base center of the corn kernel, and it contains protein, fiber, and essential minerals, making it a good source of corn's nutrition. However, it contains oils that provide moisture that shortens cornmeal's shelf life.
Opened whole wheat cornmeal lasts up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container in the fridge, but you can store unopened cornmeal in a cool, dry place, and it will stay viable for one year or up to three months past its "best by" date.
How Long Does Degerminated Cornmeal Last?
As the name implies, degerminated cornmeal, also known as degermed cornmeal or bolted cornmeal, comes from ground degerminated corn, making it last longer. Degermed cornmeal lasts up to 12 months after opening, given that it is stored in a cool, dry place away from heat. However, unopened, dry cornmeal should be fine for over six months past its "best by" date.
You can also place opened cornmeal in a plastic bag and freeze it for up to two years.
How Long Do Cornmeal Products Last?
Once cooked, the shelf life of cornmeal varies depending on the ingredients added. Corn bread made from cornbread mix, corn muffins from muffin mix, pancakes, or porridge lasts up to a week in the fridge or three months in the freezer. However, these baked goods start to show signs of spoilage after 3 to 5 days when left at room temperature.
Top 3 Ways To Tell If Cornmeal Has Gone Bad
Presence of Mold and Insects
The presence of mold or insects is the most obvious way to tell if you should toss the cornmeal out. You can spot mold by checking for the cornmeal's black, gray, or green specks. Also, cornmeal that smells bad will attract bugs, so you should throw it away if you see bugs in the container.
Lastly, moisture gets in the container once it has been open for a while, which might result in cornmeal clumping. You might notice this before the mold or insects appear, but it's a good indicator that you have bad cornmeal.
Once moisture gets in the cornmeal, it eventually spoils it, and you might notice a slimy texture in your cornmeal. Most of the time, the slimy texture comes with a foul odor, making it easier to decide to toss it out.
Rancid Smell and Taste
Even without mold and insects, you should discard cornmeal if it produces a foul odor or bad taste. This is due to enzymatic changes that degrade the quality of food. Moreover, rancid cornmeal may result from mold infestation.
How To Store Cornmeal
You can store unopened cornmeal in a cool, dry place. However, once opened, it's best to store cornmeal in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator to prevent mold and insects. Moreover, you can also freeze cornmeal to keep it suitable for up to 2 years.
When it comes to cornmeal products, it's essential to keep them in plastic wrap before you store cornbread and other baked goods in the fridge. This prevents any moisture from getting in, prolonging their shelf life.
Can You Consume Expired Cornmeal?
Yes. Since cornmeal comes with a "best by" date instead of an expiry date, cornmeal past its "best by" doesn't necessarily mean that it has already expired. You can consume regular cornmeal 3 to 6 months past its "best by" date.
However, you should never use spoiled cornmeal to prevent bacterial or fungal infections.
Yes, and no. Corn flour is considered the most refined form of cornmeal, but they have different applications.
No. Cornstarch is a corn product that is very fine and has no distinct corn flavor.
Yes. You can use cornmeal past its "best by" date as long as you can't spot any signs of spoilage.
You can make corn tortillas using a mixture of cornmeal and corn flour or a ready cornmeal mix.
No. Although corn and wheat belong to the same family, they are different grain varieties and have different end-products.