If there’s one food that I can eat all day every day, it would be no other than pasta. For me, it is one of the most versatile food items in the world. I can put it in sauces, soups, and sauces. Because of this, a box of pasta is a mainstay in my kitchen pantry.
But if there’s one cooking skill that I have not mastered yet (sad to say), it is how to accurately measure the right amount of pasta I need for the dish I am going to serve. That is why I always end up having extra pasta in my refrigerator.
In fact, there was one time when I had to throw out a Ziploc full of cooked pasta because I have no idea how long does pasta last in the fridge. Since then, I promised I wouldn’t waste another bag of pasta again, so I did my research. In this article, I will share with you my amazing discoveries on the shelf life and proper storage of pasta.
The Right Way to Store Your Pasta
Before we head straight to the heart of the matter, I would like to share with you a few tips on how to properly store pasta first. Below are the ways on how to store different types of pasta (cooked, uncooked and fresh pasta):
• Uncooked Dry Pasta
The most effective way to store unopened and uncooked dry pasta is in its original packaging. The packaging must be kept in a dark, cold, and dry place like your kitchen cabinet.
• Uncooked Fresh Pasta
If you love preparing fresh pasta (which I do from time to time), you should know the fact that it does not last as long as dry pasta does. To store fresh pasta, let it dry for around 30 minutes then fold it into loose nests. Place it in a cling wrap and place in the refrigerator.
• Cooked Pasta
If you have leftover pasta, the best way to store it and extend its shelf life is by placing it either on a refrigerator or a freezer.
To ensure that the cooked pasta will be able to retain its texture and taste, you should place it in a re-sealable plastic bag or airtight container before putting it in a refrigerator. If you plan to freeze it, put it in a heavy-duty freezer bag (remove all the air before sealing it to avoid freezer burn).
If you plan to store the pasta in the freezer for an extended period, it is recommended that you divide the pasta into separate re-sealable bags. It is also advised that you label the plastic bags with either the date of storage or expected date of expiration.
• Cooked Pasta with Sauce
If you are storing cooked pasta with sauce, it is best if you would store the pasta and sauce separately. In this way, the pasta won’t further absorb the sauce and won’t end up mushy or soggy.
Here are more storage tips that I would like to share with you:
• If the pasta is still warm, you should let it cool down first before placing it inside the container or freezer bag.
• Before putting the pasta in the freezer bag, drizzle olive oil or any cooking oil over the pasta then toss it well. In this way, the pasta won’t stick together when it freezes.
How Long Does Pasta Last in the Fridge?
Let us talk about the life of uncooked dry and fresh pasta first. Here is a short yet detailed guideline you need to read:
• For an unopened package of dry pasta, it will last as long as the expiration date stated in the packaging so you should always check it before cooking.
• Once you have already opened the packaging, the best thing that you can do is to place it in an airtight container or a tightly sealed bag. For an opened pack of pasta, you should use it within 2 – 3 weeks upon opening or else; it will start to lose its quality.
• A pack of unopened and uncooked fresh pasta is best used within one to two weeks. On the other hand, an opened package of fresh pasta can last only for 2- 5 days.
Of course, we are not that much concerned with uncooked pasta. After all, the packs of dry and fresh pasta are labeled with its expiration date. But the tricky part is determining its shelf life when it is already cooked. To know more about it, check out these guidelines:
• When placed in the refrigerator, cooked pasta can last for 5 -7 days.
• When placed in the freezer, cooked pasta is still considered to be suitable for consumption for up to 6 months after the date of storage.
• Baked pasta dishes (like lasagna and bake macaroni) can last for 3 – 4 days when refrigerated and up to 3 months when frozen.
Signs that Your Pasta Has Gone Bad
Once you have decided to reuse the leftover pasta in your fridge, it is crucial that you confirm its safety and viability first. There are lots of signs that you should look out for when it comes to determining if your pasta has already gone bad or not (I hope not though!). These are as follows:
• Greenish or blackish discoloration
• Presence of mold
• Pungent smell
• Slimy texture
• Bland or stale taste
How to Reheat Your Frozen or Refrigerated Cooked Pasta If the pasta did not exhibit any of the signs mentioned above, it means that the pasta is still good for consumption. If that’s the case, congrats! No pasta has been wasted—that’s a win for us, pasta lovers!
Now, our next step would be to thaw or reheat the frozen or refrigerated pasta. Here are some tips on how you can do that:
• Refrigerated Pasta
For pasta that has only been refrigerated, you need to place it in a pot with water. Place the pot over medium-high heat, put some salt and bring the water to a boil. Make sure to check the pasta after every 15 seconds to avoid overcooking and prevent it from becoming too mushy.
Another option is to place the refrigerated cooked pasta in a metal strainer then dip it in a pot of boiling water until it is warm enough. This will take just 30 seconds.
You can also try microwaving the pasta. First, place it in a microwave-safe container and cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure that one corner is slightly open so steam will come out. Set the microwave to medium heat and reheat the pasta for about 1 to 1 ½ minutes.
• Frozen Cooked Pasta
If you placed the cooked pasta in the freezer, it needs to be thawed first. You can put it in the refrigerator overnight.
But if you are in a hurry, you can place the bag of frozen pasta in a colander and run tepid water over it. If you do it this way, it will take around 5 to 10 minutes for the frozen pasta to thaw properly.
Once thawed, you can proceed on reheating the pasta following the instructions mentioned above.
• Baked and Sauced Pasta dishes
The best way to reheat this type of pasta is by using an oven. To do this, placed the pasta dish in an oven-proof container. I suggest covering it with aluminum foil to prevent it from drying. Heat it for around 20 minutes.
But there would be times when the pasta won’t be thoroughly heated. After all, the reheating time may vary depending on the thickness of the sauce or the number of layers of the pasta.
Lucky for you, this has already happened to me too many times, so I already discovered a way to avoid it. What I do is to insert the tip of the fork to the middle part of the pasta. I let it stay for 20 seconds.
After that, I remove the fork then check its tip. If the tip is already hot to touch, then the work is done! If not, you may have to return it to the oven and heat it again for 10 to 15 seconds more.
The surprising thing is, people have discovered one benefit of reheating pasta, watch this video to find out what it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kos5i74n_1E
I hope that, unlike me, you will never ever have to throw a bag of cooked pasta ever. As pasta lovers, we should make it our duty to ensure that no bag of pasta will be put to waste ever again. That is why it is a must that you familiarize yourself with the information about how long does cooked pasta last in the fridge that is mentioned above.
When dealing with refrigerated pasta, do not forget to perform the following steps:
• Store it properly.
• Determine its shelf life.
• Look for signs of spoilage before cooking.
• If there are none, thaw and cook the right way.
I hope that this article has provided you with useful information on how to manage excess amounts of pasta. If you have more storage tips, please share them with us in the comments section or read more kitchen tips here .