Ramen noodles are great for a quick meal or just to have in case of an emergency, but if you’re like me you probably buy them, throw them in the pantry, then forget about them for months (or years).
Ramen noodles have a best by date on the package. For the best taste and texture, you should eat them before that date, but they’re still good to eat for up to a year after the best by date.
Let’s dig deeper into how safe it is to eat expired ramen noodles.
We’re really discussing two major types of ramen noodles in this article. There are the block style ramen noodles with a separate packet of flavoring and the styrofoam cup style of ramen noodles that have the flavoring mixed in with the noodles.
Most popular brands of ramen noodles are just made with flour, vegetable oil, and preservatives. The flavoring added can contain a wide variety of ingredients depending on who is making them.
The preservatives and lack of moisture in ramen noodles make it really difficult for microbes and bacteria to grow in a package of ramen noodles.
The date on the packaging of ramen noodles is often referred to as the expiration date. This is actually the best by date set by the manufacturer.
Best by dates are there to guarantee that the noodles will still taste the way that they’re intended and have the right texture that the manufacturer had in mind when they designed them. It basically ensures that you’re getting the experience that they want you to have when you eat them.
The truth is your ramen noodles are good for a lot longer than that. In general, ramen noodles are good for a year after the date printed on the package.
Water is one of the worst things for ramen noodles that are in storage. As soon as moisture is added to the noodles, they can start to grow mold, and spoil.
Another quick way to shorten the shelf life of ramen noodles is by letting the outer packaging get damaged. This can allow any number of bad things inside from outside contaminants to insects.
The oil used to make ramen noodles will also spoil and turn rancid over time. This will ruin the taste and could even cause nausea and diarrhea.
The flavoring added to ramen is another thing that can cause your ramen to go bad. There are a lot of preservatives in the flavoring but they still have a lot of different oils in them which will probably spoil before the noodles go bad. This makes the block style ramen noodles last longer than the cup style with the flavoring already added.
Ramen noodles can actually start to spoil and rot pretty quickly if they’re exposed to moisture. Once water is added to the noodles, you start to get a better environment for microbes to start growing.
Before you start eating ramen noodles that have passed their best by date, you should do the following things:
- Inspect the outer packaging for tears, holes or other damage. If there is any damage, throw them away.
- Look over the noodles and seasoning. You shouldn’t see any insects or mold. If you do, throw them away.
- Smell the noodles and seasoning. If anything smells rancid or strange in any way, throw them away.
- Taste a small piece of the noodles and a little bit of the seasoning. If they taste off in any way, throw them away.
Ramen noodles really aren’t any different than other types of prepackaged foods when it comes to storage. Keep them in a cool, dry and dark area that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight and they should be fine.
The only special consideration that you may want to take is storing them in a plastic container to keep rodents or bugs away. This also helps to keep the packaging intact so they don’t spoil prematurely.
Storing ramen noodles for survival situations is an interesting idea, but it really isn’t ideal. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t have anything to eat and there is a three-year-old pack of ramen noodles on the shelf, then you should probably eat it, but that doesn’t mean that you should specifically store ramen noodles as a survival food.
Ramen noodles are cheap so it may seem like a good idea to store them for survival situations. Once you factor in the fact that you’re going to have to throw them away every couple of years if you don’t use them, that cost really starts to add up.
You’d be better off buying more expensive survival foods like rice, beans, wheat berries, salt, and other items like that if you’re really interested in storing food for survival.
Ramen noodles can be eaten for a year after the best by date on the package. Just make sure that you look them over before you cook them and throw them away if they seem off in any way. It’s just not worth risking possibly getting sick to try to save a pack of ramen that costs less than a dollar.