Tofu is a really popular food product that is especially common among vegetarians and vegans who use it as an alternative to meat and dairy products. Tofu is also known as bean curd, which is made up of soymilk that is curdled together and morphs together in soft white blocks similar to white cheese. Tofu is a food that is most common in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisines especially in China, Japan, and Thailand. Tofu comes in many different forms such as fresh, processed, soft, firm or extremely hard. Tofu can be used in recipes for food dishes that are sweet or savory. It is also common for tofu to be marinated and seasoned in order to add to its’ original flavor. Tofu is quite an old food product with its origins being traced back to the Han dynasty of China over two thousand years ago. The popularity of tofu is in part due to its large amount of protein and relatively small amount of calories making it a healthy alternative to meat products like chicken or beef. Tofu is also high in iron, magnesium, and other useful nutrients for the human body. If you’re at a local supermarket or food market and you see a big sale on containers of tofu or a package of fresh tofu, what should you do? Would it be worth the savings in time and money to buy some extra tofu for you, your friends, and your family? Will it be possible to store the tofu for the long term in order to get the most out of it? The ultimate question remains; does tofu go bad?
Does Tofu Go Bad?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is yes, tofu can indeed go bad on you. Tofu that has been refrigerated and stored in cold environments can go bad quite quickly. That’s why it’s very important to read through the rest of this article to find out more about how to properly store tofu for the long-term, what is the shelf life of the product, and what are the signs to look for when determining if the tofu has gone bad or not.
Storing The Tofu
It’s most important to store the tofu that has been sold from the refrigerated part of the supermarket to store the tofu after purchase in the refrigerator for best results. You have to make sure that the tofu is not opened when you store it in the refrigerator and that a container or bag would be sealed tightly. After the tofu is opened, it should be transferred to an airtight container that you could fill with fresh water in order for the food to maintain its’ original taste and texture.
In order to get the most out of your tofu in terms of storage, you should freeze it so that your tofu will last for a long time. If you decide to freeze the tofu, you should go ahead and drain the tofu of any water or moisture that still remains. You can then cover the tofu with plastic or aluminum wrapping and then transfer the product into a freezer-safe bag or container. Even if you freeze the tofu, the taste and quality will remain the same even after the freezing process.
You can freeze your tofu up to 3 months. Defrost the tofu in the refrigerator. When you are ready to cook the tofu, squeeze out any excess liquid before cooking. Usually, previously frozen and thawed tofu will have a spongier and sturdier consistency. Many chefs actually prefer this texture better than the fresh tofu’s texture.
If you thawed out your tofu already, it’s not advisable to refreeze it again. Tofu should never be stored at room temperature and should always be stored in cool and dry environments such as a freezer or refrigerator. Lastly, it would be a mistake to expose the tofu to any outside elements such as water, oxygen, heat, and sunlight.
Shelf Life of Tofu
Every package or container of tofu comes with a “Use by” or “Best before” date. However, contrary to popular belief, this is actually not the date of expiration but rather the date on which the overall quality of the tofu will begin to inevitably decline. If you leave the tofu unopened and unused, it will last for between two to three months after the “Use by” date passes by.
It’s important to remember that the longer you store the tofu for especially after the “Best before” date passes, the lesser overall quality, taste, and texture your tofu will have. It’s better to consume the product as quickly as possible rather than wait a couple of months to eat the tofu. Still though, if you can’t really use the tofu for three to six months after the date of production, it will still be good to use and eat if it has been properly stored and the package is still closed. The shelf life of unopened tofu might be a little bit longer as a result. However, once the tofu has been opened and used, the shelf life shrinks to about a three to five day window where it should be consumed before it goes bad.
If you cannot use all of your tofu within a week of opening, it would be best to freeze the rest of your tofu for the long-term. You can freeze the tofu for months or even up to a year, which will give you plenty of time to use the remainder of your product. It is not recommended to thaw the tofu for longer than a year continuously and the product must be thawed out overnight in the refrigerator before being served.
Signs of Bad Tofu
When it comes to bad tofu, it’s very easy to tell when the product has gone sour on you. You should first check the appearance of the tofu to see if there is any discoloration, mold, or bacteria forming on the surface of the product. If the tofu looks curdled or the texture is becoming loose, that’s another bad sign. If you’re still not convinced, you should check to see how the tofu smells. If there’s a really strong, pungent odor, it’s likely that the tofu should go in the trashcan.
If you were still unsure, it would be best to do a small taste test with a spoon to check the taste and flavor of the tofu. It won’t make you sick to do a small tasting and it’s the most surefire way to tell if you should be buying new tofu or not at the supermarket. Good luck and use your best judgment!