According to Quaker Oats, the only way you can store oats

I'm a fan of the many benefits of oatmeal — it's versatile and keeps me fuller for longer — so I think about eating more of it. I will always welcome a sweet spiced oatmeal cookie as a treat or a nice bowl of steel cut oatmeal topped with cinnamon, sugar, milk and a banana, especially on a cold winter day.

When it comes to storing my oats, however, I'm a little lazy. I keep it in its original packaging, stick it in the closet, and use it when the mood strikes. Lately, I've been trying to do a better job of keeping my groceries fresh longer after I get them home. So to learn how to store my oats, I scoured the internet to see what the experts, including Quaker Oats, had to say.

Here's what I learned.

The perfect container for storing oats

There are many varieties of oats, such as rolled or old-fashioned, instant, steel-cut, and Irish, and they come in a variety of packaging such as tins, cardboard cylinders, and plastic and paper bags. While you can certainly keep the oats in the same containers they came in, it's best to transfer the oats to an airtight metal or glass canister once you've opened them. Oats stored in non-porous containers will last longer.

Once the packaging is opened, exposure to air can shorten the shelf life of your oats. Moisture and yeast can make your oats tainted, and unwanted insects can enter them. This is especially true if the oats are packed in paper—air and moisture can spoil the oats.

Great place to store your oats

Here's Quaker Oats' take on where to store your oats: “We recommend storing all grain-based products in a clean, cool, dry place.” This means you should avoid direct sunlight, heat from stoves, ovens or other appliances, and any kind of moisture.

This can be applied to many places in your kitchen, such as a closed cupboard or pantry. If the oats are in an airtight container, you can also store them in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.

What does best really mean by date?

Your oat package should be stamped with a “best if used by/before” date. When it comes to Quaker products, if that date passes, “the product is still safe to eat, but the quality of the product may decline, and you may notice a change in texture or taste.”

According to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services, a “best if used by or before” date is not a purchase or safety date. This is simply reflecting the best time for product freshness. So, use your best judgment to know if it's time to throw them away: The oats shouldn't smell or taste, and you shouldn't see any visible signs of mold or decay.

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How long do oats last?

While the “best if used/before” date on your package of oats is a good guess, if you store them properly, they will last a little longer. Uncooked grains and oats can last six to 12 months if unopened and stored in the pantry, and up to three months once opened, the USDA says.

Oats can be transferred to an airtight metal or glass canister and stored in the refrigerator or freezer to extend their shelf life.

How to tell if your oats are spoiled

There are several ways to tell if your oats have gone rancid. Mold can accumulate on grains, so keep an eye on growth and color. As for smell, spoiled oats will have a distinctly sour smell. A sour taste in oats is also a sure way to tell you that they are spoiled.

take away

As soon as you open your oats, transfer them to an airtight container. Store them in a cool, dry, dark place like a closed pantry, or in your refrigerator or freezer. You can eat oats before their best-by date, but check that they haven't gone bad for mold or insects. In general, you can keep an unopened package of oats for six to 12 months if stored in the pantry, and up to three months if opened.

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