Chia seeds are very popular in weight loss programs. People include chia seeds in their diet in the hopes of reaching their desired, healthy weight.
In turn, the market for Chia Seeds has grown exponentially, expected to exceed 4.7 billion in the US by 2025. Additional factors in the growing popularity of Chia seeds are:
- Consumer demand for gluten-free products.
- An awareness of the benefits of Chia seeds.
- The desire for culinary products with a long shelf life.
The 12 oz bag your chia seeds come in makes 30, 1 tablespoon servings. Unless you’re someone who eats them regularly, that one little bag could last you a long time.
So, it’s natural to wonder, even with chia on the regular menu: do chia seeds go bad quickly, and when should you throw them out?
- You’re in luck. Our research shows that a bag of chia seeds lasts a very long time when stored properly before it becomes rancid.
- You can forget about the resealable bag or jar, unopened, and away from sunlight in the back of your pantry for over 2 years without the worry of them going rancid.
It’s not uncommon to have other questions about chia seeds besides do chia seeds go off or expire.
For example, what’s the best way to store your chia seeds to avoid a bitter taste? Can you put the package in the freezer? What about chia pudding?
Then too, when should you discard them? And what about all the talk regarding the health benefits of chia seeds? Read on!
Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?
Turns out the same quality that makes chia seeds so nutritious also gives the seeds an extended shelf life, namely Antioxidants (*).
What are Antioxidants? Antioxidants deter the buildup of free radicals in your body, staving off heart disease and other illnesses.
So, with this in mind, how long before you should worry? There are variances in the estimates for how long it takes before you may discover your chia seeds have gone bad. (*)
Some sources agree with the two-year estimate we spoke of, with up to four years in the refrigerator. Others say 1 year fresh in the pantry and three years in the fridge.
In other product forms, the longevity of chia seeds changes. We recommend the following guideline:
- Chia Flour: 6 months in the pantry (do not refrigerate)
- Chia Gel: 2 hours at room temperature, 2-3 weeks refrigerated
- Meal: 2-4 weeks in the pantry, 1-2 years in the refrigerator.
- Chia Pudding: 5-7 days, refrigerated
- Soaked chia seeds: 3-5 days refrigerated
Both chia pudding and gel belong exclusively stored in the refrigerator. At room temperature, they immediately start breaking down, and the seeds go bad. (*)
How To Know if Chia Seeds Have Gone Bad?
The chances of a properly stored bag of chia seeds will go bad are slim, even when expired. But there are things for which to be on the lookout if you’re concerned the seeds might be rancid.
Signs of Spoilage:
There are a lot of ways to tell if chia seeds are bad. In fact, there are signs they have in common among various types of spoiled goods, including other seeds. (*)
- Lumps: when you see the seeds stuck to the bottom of a container or to each other, discard them.
- Mold: Do a visual search. White scum between your seeds is likely to mold. It occurs due to exposure to moisture. Don’t consume them. Throw them out.
- Slime: Unless you’ve made gel if your dry chia seeds develop slime, it is one of the signs they are no longer safe for use.
- Smell: Your nose knows. The smell of chia is neutral.
- Taste: If the chia seeds or chia pudding have a bitter taste, toss them.
On the upside? We are happy to report chia seeds are resistant to bugs.
How Long Do Chia Seeds Last?
At what point do seeds go bad, and how do you know if the seeds are still OK to eat from the bag?
We know that every consumable can get tricky when it comes to figuring out expiration dates, the best by date, and whether or not either has any bearing on your food being “OK” to eat.
Who wants to eat rancid products? We certainly don’t!
So what’s the answer?
What’s in a Date?
If you were to ask 10 people what “best by” and “expiration” dates mean, you’d get 10 answers (well, maybe 6 – many consumers really don’t know).
When will the seeds go bad? How long do chia seeds last? So here’s the scoop:
Use by dates indicates the date past which a manufacturer can no longer promise the product’s best quality. It does not mean the chia seeds are bad beyond that date.
The sell-by-date is really more for the store’s use. (*) After that date, the store should consider whether to remove the chia seeds from the shelf as they may lose flavor.
Stores assume you’ll use your product within a few days. If your seeds are beyond any of these points, it never hurts to taste one or two before adding them to your recipe or blend.
How to Store Chia Seeds
We have some great tips for bags of chia seed, and safe storage practices so you don’t have to search everywhere.
When working only with seeds, chia stored properly in an airtight container, in a dark area of the pantry unopened, lasts a long time. But, what else can you do to keep your seeds (or recipes with chia seeds) safe to eat and at their best quality beyond the best by date?
The rules for chia flour are the same for the seeds. Keep it cool and dry in an area where the temperature is consistent.
1. Refrigerate after Opening?
As seeds, chia can remain in the refrigerator to extend shelf life so long as you can keep them dry.
It’s a good storage method. As with the pantry, use an airtight container.
Flour, however, cannot go in the fridge as it will get damp very easily. (*)
Chia seeds go bad when exposed to dampness. Also, chia seeds go bad when they’re in hot conditions, so the fridge is perfect.
Chia pudding needs to be in the refrigerator or freezer. Leave the pudding in the fridge to thaw for 6-8 hours.
2. Freeze Chia Seeds
As with refrigeration, freezing the seeds extends the shelf life so they don’t go rancid before you can use them in your food preparations.
Freezing is one way to give them a life far beyond the best by date and keep the taste intact. It’s easy to store chia seeds in the freezer.
You can portion them out and store them in resealable bags so long as there is no moisture within and as airtight as possible. Don’t let them become soaked.
In this form, in an airtight container, chia seed lasts for up to a decade. (*)
How long do they last depends on using the best type of jar: namely glass, in the pantry.
If you are concerned about breakage, consider a plastic storage container with a secure lid. It will do the trick for retaining quality.
When you are transferring the seed from another jar, make sure to sanitize the new one with boiling water. Dry completely before filling.
4. Hands Off!
Try to avoid using your hands to serve out the number of chia seeds you need. Either pour them directly from the package into a receptacle or use a freshly cleaned food scoop.
Why? If you have germs on your hands, they can be transferred to the entire pack.
Let’s Learn More About Chia Seed!
While they might not look it, chia seeds are part of the mint family, native to South and Central America. (*) The seeds were an important part of the MesoAmerican and Aztec cultures and one of the five stable crops of Mexico. (*)(*)
“Chia” means strength. The Aztec warriors ate the seeds for fortitude and energy. And we seem to be following that lead.
Today, you can search around and find them in many health-food stores or large, global supermarkets. Eat them as a healthy addition to your diet.
Is there a difference between black and white chia seeds?
Essentially no, but supermarkets may price them differently. Also, brown seeds are immature.
What Do Chia Seeds Taste and Smell Like?
They have a very subtle flavor profile. Because of this, they blend into various recipes without changing the basic taste you’d expect. (*)
If we had to narrow it down, chiaseeds have a mild nutty taste as you bite into them. They really don’t smell like anything distinctive.
Are Chia Seeds Really Good for Me?
There’s no question that chiaseeds and chia flour are generally safe-to-eat food beyond their expiration date, but do they really have nutritional value? Yes.
Besides being gluten-free, they are cholesterol-free and have lots of fiber, helping stave off hunger pains. (*)
They are a source of fiber, protein, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Two tablespoons yields:
- 4 grams protein
- 1 grams fiber
- 1% RDA for calcium
and are the richest plant source for omega-3 fatty acids. (*)
Beyond this, chiaseeds offer B-complex vitamins and some trace minerals. (*) So you don’t have to worry about the question of, can chiaseeds go bad, and you get health benefits too.
How can I include chiaseeds in my diet?
The easiest answer is to add them to tried-n-true recipes.
Chia pudding is great as a treat. You can add seeds to fruit juice, and smoothies or even decorate the top of your favorite salad or cereal with them.
Can I eat too many chiaseeds?
Yes. For most people, a bag of chiaseeds is a great addition to their diet. However, for some, eating too much chia out of a package results in digestive issues, diarrhea, headaches, weight gain, and potential allergic reactions.
We’ve answered the question about chia seeds and its shelf life, storage and expiration tips. If your diet includes a search for a healthy addition to your diet, chia seed fits the bill.
So do chia seeds go bad? You don’t have to worry about using it up quickly, and it lasts for years in the pantry, fridge, and freezer.