Why You Should Store Grits In The Freezer Instead Of The Pantry

A delicious comfort food classic, homemade grits are the smooth and creamy side dish that completes many seafood stunners, from cajun catfish to creole-style shrimp. With its porridge-like consistency, grits lend themselves to both breakfast and dinner, making them a very versatile pantry staple to have on hand. However, this "pantry" staple shouldn't exactly be stored there. Instead, you need to consider putting your grits into a much colder environment, like the freezer. 

Though you may think of grits in the same way that you think of all-purpose flour, you should actually consider it to share more kinship with a nut meal or whole grain blend. Stone-ground grits are the grit du jour for Southern cooks, and they are distinguished by a coarsely ground texture, with the germ still intact. The germ makes grits more perishable, so you should store them in the freezer where they will last much longer.

How to keep grits fresher for longer

First, let's address how much longer you've extended the tasty shelf-life of your corn grits by storing them in the freezer. Store-bought grits stored in the pantry will be at peak flavor for three to six months before suffering from diminishing returns. However, if you store them in the freezer they will be fresh-tasting for at least six months and up to a year. 

If you haven't yet opened the package, you can store it directly in the freezer. Otherwise, seal the grits in a freezer-safe ziptop bag. Note that instant grits will last longer than stone ground, as they are more processed but you'll notice that the flavor is inferior as well. There's no need to thaw them when you pull them from the fridge, but you might want to have them come back to room temperature before adding to your boiling water as the shock of cold may lower the heat. 

In case you were wondering, yes, you can freeze cooked grits as well. You'll simply make the grits as normal, let it cool, and then portion it out into plastic wrap-lined muffin tins or individual sandwich bags. Once you've divided it up into smaller portions, you'll freeze it in a larger zip-top bag. When you're ready to eat it, you'll defrost it overnight in the fridge and then microwave in 30-second intervals.