Here's How Long Your Tofu Should Last After Opening

Tofu blocks on white plate
Tofu blocks on white plate - Kritchai7752/Shutterstock

Tofu is the perfect meat substitute; it can be cooked in a number of ways to change its flavor and texture, and it's great as a standalone meal or as an add-on in soups, scrambles, or even salads. In short, tofu is made from soybeans that sit in water for at least four hours; they're then thoroughly crushed and boiled to make soy milk, which eventually hardens and is cut into tofu squares. Once you open that pack of tofu, though, you'll have to use it within about five days for its best quality.

Though it is a meat alternative, tofu is still perishable, so it should be refrigerated. There are shelf-stable varieties, but make sure to check the label to avoid the risk of foodborne illness. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to use that leftover tofu, and if you find yourself with too much, you can easily freeze it.

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How To Properly Store Tofu For Freshness

Tofu satay on white plate
Tofu satay on white plate - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

Soy requires the same safe handling as dairy products, so in addition to refrigeration, you should not leave tofu at room temperature for more than two hours or you risk foodborne illness. If you find that you can't use the leftover tofu after opening, it's perfectly fine to freeze.

Tofu might have excess water, so drain this before you freeze it. From there, wrap it well (a layer of plastic wrap and aluminum foil does the trick for most foods) or store it in an airtight container to prevent moisture or oxygen from getting in. It will freeze well for up to three months, per the USDA. The USDA also recommends cutting it into smaller pieces before freezing it and refrigerating it overnight to let it properly thaw before use. There are different types of tofu, which are differentiated by their firmness, but the refrigerator and freezer instructions remain the same for each.

How To Tell When Tofu Has Gone Bad

Crispy tofu on dark background
Crispy tofu on dark background - Mediterranean/Getty Images

If you freeze your tofu, it will last indefinitely. While it might get freezer burn after that three-month period, which could impact its taste and texture, the tofu will remain safe to eat forever as long as it is never defrosted.

Refrigerated tofu, on the other hand, will start to show signs when it's gone bad. Look, smell, and texture are great tests to know the condition of your tofu -- if you have doubts, don't test it by eating it. First and foremost, check its color. That cream or off-white typical color will start to darken as it ages, turning more beige or brown. Any discoloration is a sign that it's past its prime, but mold is a sure sign it's time to toss it. Plus, tofu shouldn't have a noticeable smell. If you take a whiff and get an unpleasant, sour odor, don't eat it. Texture matters, too if -- it's slimy, throw it away.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.