The Biggest Mistake You're Making With Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seed pudding is a convenient, make-ahead breakfast staple. Sticking to a ratio of a tablespoon of chia seeds for every quarter cup of milk, there's not much you can get wrong when you're preparing it the night before. But there is one mistake you could be making — and the odds are you don't even realize you're doing it. Often bought in bulk, chia seeds usually get stowed away somewhere in the cupboard with your other dried goods. However, just like your lentils and rolled oats, the shelf life of your chia seeds can vary dramatically if they're not being stored correctly, which means that you could be using expired chia seeds without even knowing.

Depending on how you store your chia seeds, they can last anywhere from two to five years. In order to keep them and your chia seed pudding at their best, your chia seeds should always be stored in a closed container in a dark, dry place. Some tall tale signs that your chia seeds may not have been stored correctly and have gone expired are if you can see the seeds clumping or sticking together, or if they've become slimy or gel-like in texture. It's important to look out for because expired chia seeds won't only impact the flavor of your chia seed pudding, but also the texture because they won't bond as well. And, when it comes to chia pudding, the texture is just as imperative as the flavor, if not more.

What to do with expired chia seeds

Besides clumping and texture, other things to look out for with your chia seeds that could mean that they're expired are an off-putting aroma and even the presence of insects. However, just because the expiration date printed on the packaging of your chia seeds might have passed, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't safe to consume — but this is only in the case that none of the aforementioned smells, bugs, clumping, or slimy textures are present, in which case you should definitely toss them.

On the other hand, should you find a bag of chia seeds in the back of your cupboard from you don't even know when and it seems safe, or it's been over a year since you opened the bag you're currently debating on using for your morning pudding, save it. Never risk ruining your day with a badly bonded chia seed pudding. Instead, add them to your next grocery list and opt for another recipe where their texture and bonding abilities might not be as dire.

Smoothies and smoothie bowls, baked goods, homemade granola and granola bars, and energy balls are all great options. Even though, depending on how old they are, your chia seeds might not contain as much of the nutrients as they would if they were fresh, you will at least get a fraction of what you would've. And, best of all, they won't be going to waste. But that's only if you store them right.