If you’re new to eating tofu, it is only normal for you to wonder: ‘how long can tofu sit out, and how can I preserve it.’
As with other perishable foods, tofu can’t sit out for long at room temperature, except it is shelf-stable(not refrigerated but preserved differently to extend usability).
Cooked tofu can sit out for two hours at most at room temperature. After two hours, you shouldn’t eat the tofu. Discard it.
Instead of leaving your tofu to sit out at room temperature, you can store it in the fridge or freezer, but how long will it last when refrigerated or frozen? Read on to find out.
How Long Can Tofu Sit Out?
Tofu’s shelf life at room temperature depends on if it is cooked, raw, opened, or unopened.
Cooked tofu should only be allowed to sit out for two hours maximum.
Whether refrigerated or shelf-stable, Opened tofu can sit out for only one hour at room temperature. After one hour, the chance of bacterial growth on your tofu is high, so you shouldn’t eat it.
Raw and Unopened tofu are of two variants; refrigerated tofu and shelf-stable tofu. Raw refrigerated tofu shouldn’t be stored at room temperature, while raw shelf-stable tofu can sit out for as long as the best by date allows.
How long can raw tofu sit out at room temperature?
Raw tofu, provided shelf-stable, can sit out until its expiry date. However, as the name suggests, raw and unopened refrigerated tofu should not be stored at room temperature but rather in a refrigerator.
How long does tofu last in the fridge?
Opened tofu lasts for about three to five days in the fridge. If it is left longer than that, it starts to spoil.
On the other hand, unopened tofu can safely sit in the fridge till its expiry date.
Cooked tofu can spend about 6-7 days in the fridge without getting spoiled.
How long does tofu last in the fridge unopened?
If stored in the fridge, unopened tofu can last until its best-by, best before, or expiry.
How long does tofu last after opening?
Raw opened tofu lasts for about an hour at room temperature and three to five days in the refrigerator.
Does tofu go bad?
Yes, tofu spoils eventually.
Like every perishable food item, tofu will lose quality and spoil someday. However, several factors like your storage option can affect how quickly your tofu goes bad.
Unopened tofu that is well-stored can last for about two or three months after it was made before going bad.
Opened tofu left at room temperature will be more susceptible to bacteria after an hour, and opened tofu stored in the fridge will begin to spoil after 3-5 days.
Cooked tofu will spoil after about two hours at room temperature and 6-7 days in the refrigerator.
If you opted for storing your tofu long-term, frozen tofu could conveniently stay suitable for about three or four months.
How can you tell if tofu is bad?
- Check to see if it has exceeded its expiry date.
The expiry date is also called best before or best-by and is often printed on the packaging.
- Do a tofu smell test.
Does the tofu smell rotten or moldy? If yes, then it is an indication of spoilage.
- Mold growth.
Any signs of mold growth shouldn’t be taken for granted. If your tofu has developed some mold, please throw it away.
- Color change.
Healthy tofu should have an off-white color; there’s a problem when it begins to change to brown or yellow.
- Swollen packaging.
If the packaging of your tofu is swollen or oddly enlarged, it might be a sign that it is spoiled. This enlargement comes from the fermentation and activities of the spoilage bacteria in the tofu.
How to thaw frozen tofu
If you don’t plan to use your frozen tofu immediately or on the day you take it out, you can let it defrost in the refrigerator.
How to thaw frozen tofu from the freezer
- Place the tofu on a plate and leave it to thaw for about five hours or overnight if you need it the next day.
How to thaw frozen tofu in the microwave
- Take the tofu out of its packaging, put it on a paper towel, and then on a microwave-safe dish.
- Set the microwave on high and microwave it for about a minute or till it thaws.
- Pierce the tofu gently from time to time with a knife till you’re sure it has melted.
How to thaw frozen tofu on the stove
- Put some water in a pot over high heat and let it heat a little, then place the block of tofu in the water while you let the water boil.
- Reduce to medium heat, and leave the tofu in the water till it defrosts.
Read also: What Happens If Frozen Pizza Is Thawed?
How to cook frozen tofu
The first step to cooking frozen tofu is to let it thaw; you can use any of the three methods discussed above to defrost your tofu.
When you have done that, go ahead and cook your tofu following any recipe.
There are several methods and many recipes to cook tofu; it is not one-size-fits-all.
How long does tofu take to cook?
It depends on the recipe and how you’re cooking it.
Microwave-cooked tofu should take about 6 minutes, while oven-baked tofu should cook thoroughly after about 45 minutes.
On average, air-fried tofu might take between 15 and 20 minutes.
Pan sautéed tofu takes around 20 minutes, while scrambled tofu shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes, and fried tofu may take about 12 minutes.
Best ways to store tofu
The best ways to store tofu are in the fridge and freezer.
Keep it in the fridge if you plan to use your tofu within 3-5 days.
Tips for storing tofu in the fridge
- You can store it in its original packaging or a sealable container with fresh water.
- If you store it in a container with clean fresh water, you have to change the water daily to maintain freshness.
- When you’re ready to use the tofu, drain the water and pat the tofu dry.
- Store it in the freezer if you won’t use the tofu anytime soon.
Tips for storing tofu in the freezer
- You can freeze the tofu in the packaging or in an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Pat the blocks of tofu dry before placing them in the airtight container and freezing.
- Frozen tofu can last about 3 or 4 months.
Can you freeze cooked tofu?
Yes, you can freeze cooked tofu.
The only loophole with this process is that cooked tofu has more moisture than uncooked tofu, so it experiences texture and flavor changes when frozen.
The only way around this problem is to fry the tofu before freezing; fried frozen tofu has little moisture content, hence minimal flavor and texture changes.
Can you freeze tofu in its package?
You can freeze tofu in the packaging it comes in.