How To Tell If Tofu Has Gone Bad

Tofu hasn't always had the best reputation. Not only does it typically have a less-than appetizing appearance — it's made from soy milk that has been coagulated into curds, which doesn't exactly sounds too tasty (via Medical News Today). But, as Food & Nutrition reports, tofu's notorious flavorlessness and high absorbency makes it one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. It can be prepared crispy, fried, or barbecued. Mapo tofu –- showcasing tofu as the star ingredient –- is a staple Sichuan dish.

Whether you're a skeptic or a tofu devotee, the stuff is packed full of an array of health benefits. Nutritionist Tanya Freirich explains that what makes tofu such a unique plant-based product is that it is a complete source of protein, via Health. Not only does tofu pack a massive protein punch, she says, but it also contains all nine amino acids essential to a healthy diet. According to the USDA, tofu is a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, and fiber. It can also promote good cholesterol levels, bone density, neurological wellbeing, and heart health, per WebMD. Plus, all these health benefits are squished into only 144 calories per 3.5-ounce serving, per Healthline.

But, if it has gone bad, eating that same tofu can cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or even a fever, according to VegFAQs. Follow these tips to keep your tofu a health food instead of a hazard. 

Use your senses to decide if your tofu has expired

As with most foods, the best way to tell if your tofu has gone bad is to give it a thorough inspection and a good sniff. Expired tofu will turn from that signature creamy white color to tan or brown, says TofuBud, and it might even exhibit visible growths of mold. Also, whereas fresh tofu doesn't really have a detectable fragrance at all, bad tofu will develop a pungent sour smell.

Also, keep an eye out for a bloated package. As tofu deteriorates and breaks down, bacteria develop and release gas, which gets trapped inside the package and causes it to bloat, reports Fitibility. And, if it has begun to exhibit a slimy exterior, that is an indicator that you should throw it out, via The Kitchen Community.

Luckily, tofu has an impressively long shelf life. Lucky Belly says your unopened tofu will last for 2 to 3 months in the pantry. Opened, tofu is safe to eat 3 to 5 days after the expiration date on the package — as long as you keep it refrigerated. In the freezer, it'll keep for 3 to 5 months beyond that. But, as a rule, says TofuBud, if you bought that tofu chilled, keep it chilled; If it came at room temperature, store it in the pantry.