Ramen… 2-minute noodles, instant noodles, whatever you call them, this is one heck of a foodstuff! This is quite possibly a hiker’s best friend, while out on the trails because it’s lightweight, it doesn’t take up much space in your pack, and it’s easy to prepare.
Additionally, it’s great for household meals and snacks – yes, in my house we use ramen as a snack. We eat ramen pretty regularly but we’re always paying attention to expiration dates to avoid eating bad food. This, of course, raises the question: do ramen noodles expire?
Do Ramen noodles expire? Yes, despite a long shelf life (around 2 years), ramen noodles will eventually expire. The sealed packaging prevents air and moisture from getting into the noodles, but any sauces or vegetables that are in the packaging may be able to absorb moisture which could lead to bacteria and mold on your noodles.
Expiration Dates are Inventory Tools
Originally, expiration dates were an inventory tool and the numbers have more to do with quality than safety.
Eating bad food is obviously not safe, but an expiration date is a marker for when the nutritional value will start to degrade. The food itself is still safe to eat, but it won’t taste as good and won’t be nearly as healthy.
What Makes Ramen Noodles Go Bad?
The manufacturing process for Ramen noodles involves dehydrating the noodles and seasonings. The noodles are also put through a deep-frying process to remove any moisture that wasn’t removed during dehydration. This means that they will eventually go bad, but what makes them go bad?
We know that instant ramen is pre-cooked (fried) and dehydrated to remove moisture before being sealed in an airtight container/bag and that the seasoning(s) is also dehydrated.
Here’s the thing, though, some packages may contain ingredients (i.e. sauces or vegetables) which will go bad after a period of time. These ingredients can still absorb moisture which can lead to mold and/or bacteria forming inside the packaging.
Improper storage can also pose a serious problem. Ramen noodles are meant to be stored in a cool, dry place in a sealed container/package. Exposure to moist/wet conditions may lead to the growth of bacteria and mold.
How to Know Your Ramen has Gone Bad
There are a few tell-tale signs that your ramen has gone bad, for example:
- An unpleasant odor from the packaging or its contents.
- Mold on the noodles
- Odd texture
- Strange flavor
If you see any of these signs and the expiration date has passed, don’t eat the noodles!
Extending the Shelf Life of Ramen Noodles
There aren’t many ways to extend the life of ramen noodles, but you can avoid shortening their shelf life by not opening them until you plan to eat them.
They should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dry place away from moisture and sunlight. If you’ve opened the noodles, you’ll have to re-seal them in an airtight container before putting back in its spot in your pantry.
So, let’s recap:
- Yes, ramen noodles do expire.
- Ramen has a shelf life of roughly 2 years.
- Ramen is made by pre-cooking (deep-frying) and dehydrating the noodles and seasonings.
- Certain ingredients (i.e. sauces) can still absorb moisture which can lead to mold.
- Ramen noodles should be stored at room temperature in a cool, clean, dry place away from moisture and sunlight.
Whether you’re sprinkling powdered or sliced biltong into it or making spaghetti (yes, you can do this), or mixing it with baked beans, you can’t deny that ramen noodles are a useful snack to have around. It’s cheap, tasty, and a quick, two-minute meal for when you want something light.
I hope you guys enjoyed the article and found it informative. As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you for the next article. Now, if you’ll excuse me; I believe there’s a bowl of ramen with my name on it!
Greg is a South African farmer and homesteader who’s been around animals ever since he can remember. he’s also an avid camper and hiker.