Can Microwave Popcorn Go Bad?
Like other packaged snacks, microwave popcorn can spoil over time due to the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. To ensure the best quality and safety, it is important to store microwave popcorn in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat. It is also important to check the expiration date on the package and to discard any expired microwave popcorn.
Loose-kernel popcorn either pops or does not, and you will know whether or not your popcorn is being compromised by weather and moisture by the amount of unpopped kernels on the bottom of your skillet. If, after popping your popcorn, a large percentage of the kernels are not popped (half or more), it probably indicates the popcorn is older and that the kernels are drying out. At some point, you will find popcorn dry and flavorless, which is the time when you should throw it away. This means the quality of your popcorn will start to decline after the due date, but will still be edible.
|Popcorns||Shelf Life (at 60-68°F)|
|Popped popcorn||2-3 weeks|
|Dried kernels||6-8 months|
|Instant popcorn||8 months|
|Microwaveable popcorn packets||3 months|
In practice, you will likely enjoy a bowl of popcorn pretty well six or eight months after this date. Remember, popcorn, like many grains, typically has a best-by date, rather than a use-by or expiration date. This date is for when you will enjoy the best quality and taste from your microwave popcorn, but you can still use popcorn that is past that date if you keep it stored correctly. If you purchase bags of microwave popcorn at the store, you will notice the shelf life printed on the bag is typically about two years after the product was manufactured.
You can expect that your microwave popcorn can be expected to last about 6-8 months past its best-by date, with no major issues. As long as it is stored correctly, you should be able to eat your microwaveable popcorn up to three months past its best-by date. If you are eating popcorn that is two years old, it is likely that you are not getting enough nutrition out of it. If your popped popcorn is mostly free of flavorings and water-based additives, and is stored correctly shortly after popping, it can stay fresh, as well as be safe to eat, for a relatively long period of time, as much as two, maybe three weeks.
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If you do choose to go with freezing, just know that popped popcorn will not still be quite as good as fresh, though there are a few tips to try and revive it. Popcorn should still be fine a couple more weeks or so after its best-by date, but you are going to end up with some stale popcorn sooner than later.
These oils and flavors will deteriorate over time, possibly turning rancid before you are done using your popcorn. So, when you open up the bag of popcorn, you may get a nasty oily smell from it when it is cooked.
For example, if you are buying air-popped popcorn, you may be using aging kernels, since it does not matter how old the kernels are. Some say that you can still use microwaved popcorn kernels past that 3 month mark, but it could pose a major health hazard. You can keep plain popcorn kernels for a pretty long time (up to one year or longer) as long as you keep them stored correctly, in an airtight space or container. Ultimately, popcorn kernels are recommended to stay fresh for 1 -2 years, but they can last an unlimited amount of time as long as you store them well.
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If you do not store your popcorn kernels properly, either in an airtight bag or container, and where it is exposed to sunlight, it can lose moisture from inside, and it may not pop as good as it did when you used it for the first time. It is best to use dried popcorn kernels for up to 1 year after your printing date to guarantee consistent popability and a good flavor, but that does not necessarily mean that they will not taste worse past that time. Yes, though, although the shelf life dates are established, as popcorn kernels will eventually lose moisture and become dry on the inside, leading to either stale popcorn or popcorn that is easy to burn.
There are a few factors that can impact your popcorns shelf life, but generally speaking, the quality of loose kernels in a container lasts for up to one year, popped popcorn for 2-3 weeks, and bagged popcorn kernels last 6-8 months. Unpopped popcorn (whether it is in a microwaveable packet or in loose kernels) has, unsurprisingly, a far different shelf life than popcorn that is been already popped. Dried kernels and pop-ready popcorn have dramatically different shelf lives, while microwaveable packets fall somewhere in the middle. The shelf life for dry kernels is typically 6-8 months, while the shelf life for microwaveable instant kernels is 8 months.
It is pretty hard to prolong the shelf life of microwave instant popcorn kernels, as every producer will have different flavoring formulas and ratios of sugar to butter. Instant popcorn kernels have much shorter shelf lives than regular ones since manufacturers already added oil, butter, sugar, or a variety of flavors within the packaging. When it comes to microwave popcorn, a good rule of thumb is that most microwave popcorn should last up until one to two months after its best-by date, and while it will still be edible after this, it is more than likely gone stale and possibly worse due to the oils or fats it contains.
Microwaveable popcorn packets will last about 3 months or longer past the written good-by date, provided that they are stored correctly in a cool, dry, dark corner of your pantry, away from direct sunlight and heat, and that the wrapper is still in tact. An unopened box of factory sealed popcorn is probably good for several months past the best by date. It is important to store popcorn in an airtight container, as oxygen can ruin popcorns taste.
How do you know if microwave popcorn is bad?
It is important to note that microwave popcorn contains fats and oils inside the bag, resulting in rancidity. A foul smell or a lot of un-popped kernels may indicate that your popcorn is past its best date if it has been sitting for over a year.
How long is microwave popcorn good for after expiration?
The popcorn you find on the shelf and in microwaveable bags holds their moisture for approximately 6-12 months, which means that most popcorn you see on the shelf and in microwaveable bags is not more than eight months old. After the expiration date of popcorn, you may be able to eat it as long as it is still fresh; however, if you decide to consume it beyond two months later, you may find it very dry.
How long does microwave popped popcorn last?
Microwave popcorn is good for approximately two to three months if it is still sealed in its package. However, once popped, it only lasts about a week. Microwave popped popcorn stales faster than other types of popcorn that you pop yourself.