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 sound too tasty. But, as Food & Nutrition reports, tofu's notorious flavorlessness and high absorbency make it one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. It can be prepared crispy, fried, or even barbecued. 

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 it such a unique plant-based product is that it is a complete source of protein, per 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 well-being, and heart health (via WebMD). Plus, all these health benefits are squished into only 144 calories per 3.5-ounce serving.

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 healthy 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 that will be hard to miss. 

In addition, 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 or is starting to look clotted versus smooth, that is also an indicator that you should throw it out, per The Kitchen Community

How to tell if tofu has gone bad

Tofu has an impressive shelf life, but that's only if you know how to store it correctly. Unopened, refrigerated tofu will last you for as long as three to five days in the refrigerator. However, you can keep an opened, partially used block of tofu in your fridge for just as long; you just need to keep it in an air-tight container and give it fresh water for the best storage results. Unrefrigerated packaged tofu will last in your pantry unopened for two to three months. But, once it's opened, it will only be usable for another three to five days. Still, there are ways to make it last longer.

Like any other food, tofu can be stored in the freezer to extend its shelf life. Frozen tofu will last several months, but remember that its texture will change. This can be a benefit if you use tofu as a meat replacement, seeing as freezing alters the texture to make tofu seem more like meat. But it can hinder your recipes if you prefer your tofu extra-firm. Of course, there may be moments within these time frames when you're unsure whether or not your tofu has gone bad. In those instances, it's best to stick with your senses.