Does couscous go bad?

The traditions of couscous come from Africa, but now this food is consumed all over the world.

But couscous is very similar to grain, but it’s actually closer to pasta as it is either made from semolina or durum wheat flour. Couscous is typically served as a side dish, but don’t dismiss couscous quickly. There is more to it than meets the eye.

Did you know that couscous is a rich source of selenium, folic acid, manganese, thiamine, and niacin. It’s a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals needed by your body to function efficiently.

This article will give you advice on how to store couscous to maximize its shelf life and provide you with answers to many frequently asked questions.

Let’s get into it.

Does couscous expire?

Yes. Couscous does expire, but it has a long shelf life being a dry product. Like most other dry goods, the key to extended shelf life is the storage technique you are using.

An unopened pack of couscous will last for around six months when stored in a cool, dry environment like a pantry or kitchen cabinet.

It makes sense to store unopened and open packs of couscous in an airtight container wherever you decide to store the couscous. This will prevent pantry insects from setting up home in an open pack of couscous and will provide a more secure environment for storage.

If you think couscous is easy to store, you are right, and it could not be any more simple. However, there is a challenge, and that challenge is to prevent moisture from entering the pack of couscous.

Dry products like couscous will pull the slightest bit of moisture from the air. In a busy kitchen where you are boiling veggies or pasta to feed the kids, controlling moisture in the kitchen can be an uphill battle.

Selecting a kitchen cabinet away from the cooking hob is a smart move, and ensuring the lid of the airtight container is sealed correctly will be critical to the life of the couscous.

Does couscous need to be refrigerated?

Placing dry couscous in the fridge for storage is unnecessary, and your fridge is not the driest environment in your kitchen. Placing dry couscous in the fridge will not extend the product’s shelf life.

Couscous that has been cooked on its own, without being added to any other foods, will keep in the fridge for three to five days. This is assuming it isn’t combined with other foods during a meal. Couscous keeps better in the back of the refrigerator rather than on the door, where it will be exposed to a cycle of constant warmer air from opening the fridge door.

Store cooked couscous in an airtight container. This will have a double effect on the couscous. It will prevent the couscous from absorbing stronger odors in the fridge, such as cheese and some cooked meats, effectively spoiling the flavor profile of the couscous.

Sealing the couscous in an airtight container will prevent bacteria growth, extending its shelf life in the fridge.

You can use a Ziploc bag if you don’t have an airtight container. Ensure you squeeze as much air as possible from the Ziploc bag as possible before placing the couscous in the fridge.

Can you put warm couscous in the fridge?

It depends on your interpretation of warm. If warm means you can’t hold it in your hand, then the answer is no. Placing hot food in the fridge is a risky business. Hot food will elevate the interior of the fridge, which also elevates the temperature of the foods contained in the fridge.

Foods that are stored in a fluctuating temperature in the fridge could become subject to increased bacteria growth in the fridge, which could introduce the potential for food poisoning, particularly on foods that are not expected to be reheated.

Leave the couscous for thirty minutes on the side to cool sufficiently, then place the couscous in an airtight container and then place it in the fridge. If you feel the container is still warm, leave it but cover it until it is cool enough to be in the fridge.

Does covering food make a difference?

Yes. Whenever you place warm food in the fridge, make sure it’s covered. This will prevent bacteria growth in the food.

When you say covered, it is not about just covering with some cling film but covering with a sealable lid inside a container that can isolate the cooked food from bacteria and potential mold spores.

Covered couscous in the fridge will last for four days easily and still taste great.

Does couscous go bad if left out?

It depends on how long it’s left out. According to the USDA, perishable foods left out on the side for two hours or more should be considered garbage. The bacteria load on the food in two hours is high enough to be concerned about food poisoning.

If you have guests over and a buffet-style get-together, then ensure the couscous is kept in a sealed container and should be resealed after each serving.

Does unopened couscous go bad?

If stirred correctly, dried couscous does not really have a shelf life, and you can expect the couscous to still be edible long after the best-before date on the packet.

Eventually, the couscous will degrade to the point it is not edible such as losing its color and flavor, but in terms of being bad, it doesn’t happen as long as the couscous does not absorb moisture.

How long does couscous last in the fridge?

Cooked couscous that is not mixed with other foods and is sealed in an airtight container will last four days in the fridge.

Does frozen couscous go bad?

In theory, any food constantly storied at 0℉ or below has an indefinite shelf life. However, at some point, the frozen couscous would lose its texture, its flavor, and color and become unappetizing.

There is also freezer burn to consider. Extended freezing can cause freezer burn, together with poor packaging.

The product isn’t bad, as in you would become sick if you ate it, but it sure wouldn’t be a tasty meal.

Does dry couscous go bad?

Bad is the wrong word to use. It will degrade over time to the point it is not edible. The key to keeping dry couscous is to prevent it from being exposed to moisture. Moisture and dried foods don’t mix and will cause the couscous to spoil prematurely with potential mold growth.

Does uncooked couscous go bad?

If couscous is stored correctly in an airtight container and free from moisture exposure, it will not go bad. You can expect couscous to be perfect months after the expiry date on the pack.

It is essential to store couscous correctly, even when in a container. It should be placed in a cool dark space like a kitchen cabinet or pantry.

Does couscous go bad after cooking?

Once you have cooked couscous and served your meal, couscous should be in an airtight container. Couscous will only last for 2 hours on the side. According to the USDA, the bacteria proliferation after two hours could be enough to cause food poisoning.

Does refrigerated couscous go bad?

Couscous will last for a maximum of four days in the fridge if sealed in an airtight container. After this, the couscous should be discarded.

Although the couscous is stored in an airtight container inside a fridge, it’s hard to prevent bacteria from growing and making the couscous bad.

How long does couscous last in the fridge?

Couscous is a delicate product and should be consumed as soon as possible once cooked. However, if the couscous is not mixed with veggies or meat, it will last for four days. Four days in an airtight container.

If the couscous is mixed as a meal, you will be guided by the product in the meal that has the shortest life in the fridge. It would be reasonable to expect couscous mixed with veggies and meat to only be suitable for consumption after two days in the fridge.

Can you freeze couscous?

One of the best things about couscous is its versatility as a food base. Once couscous is cooked, it can be frozen for up to four months and possibly longer if the couscous has been packaged correctly for freezing.

After four months, you can expect the couscous to degrade slightly. The longer in the freezer, the more it will degrade until it reaches a point where it is not edible.

Freezing dried couscous will not extend its shelf life.

Final thoughts

Couscous is a versatile food and a good source of vitamins and minerals. It is relatively shelf stable and can last long past its best-before date, making couscous the ideal food to have stored in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Once cooked, couscous has a short shelf life of four days maximum if stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Like any other perishable food, couscous can not spend more than two hours on the side before being considered garbage due to accelerated bacteria growth.

Freezing cooked couscous is an ideal way to have a quick meal on hand at any time.

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