Flaxseed meal is a nutritious and versatile food that provides healthy fats and fiber to your diet. Because it’s high in fat, flaxseed meal is prone to going bad – but how long will that take, exactly?
Flaxseed meal should last around six months when stored in the fridge or freezer (or by the best-by date; whichever is sooner). Flaxseed meal will go bad much more quickly when stored at room temperature, only lasting around a week before becoming less ideal in terms of freshness and quality.
We’ll walk you through the best storage practices for flaxseed meal and much more in this article!
What is the shelf life of flaxseed meal?
Flaxseed meal (ground flaxseed; also called flaxseed flour) has a shorter shelf life than whole flaxseed. A package of flaxseed meal will come with a printed expiration date, use-by date, or best-by date. This date will vary depending on when the flaxseed meal was packaged and how long it was sitting on a shelf before you bought it.
In general, flaxseed meal should have a shelf life of around six months when sealed. Once you open it, the shelf life will shorten drastically due to the oxidation of the fats in the flaxseed meal – and we’ll get to that next!
How long does flaxseed meal last after opening?
The shelf life of ground flaxseed is very short if stored at room temperature (e.g. the pantry or countertop). That’s because the fats in flaxseed are unsaturated in their chemical nature, and unsaturated fats are more prone to going rancid by oxidizing (when oxygen breaks down the fats) compared to saturated fats.
The shelf life for flaxseed meal seems to be around 6 months across the board, whether opened, sealed, or stored in the fridge or freezer. As you can see from the table below, it’s worth it to toss an open bag of flaxseed meal in the fridge or freezer to prolong its shelf life.
|Flaxseed meal – SEALED||Best-by date||~6 months or best-by date; whichever is sooner||~6 months or best-by date; whichever is sooner|
|Flaxseed meal – OPEN||Up to one week||~6 months or best-by date; whichever is sooner||~6 months or best-by date; whichever is sooner|
Can you use flaxseed meal after its expiration date?
Flaxseed meal is rich in unsaturated fats which are prone to going rancid, so you won’t have a lot of leeway to use it past its expiration date. If it’s been stored in the fridge or freezer and there are no signs that the flaxseed meal went bad (we’ll explain more about that in the next section), then it’s likely fine to use ground flaxseed after its expiration date.
While it’s probably fine to used sealed flaxseed meal past its expiration date, you won’t have a ton of extra time – maybe a couple of weeks tops before it’s better to replace it with a new batch. If the package was sealed and in the freezer, you could likely use it up to a month after the expiration date, but only if there are no signs of rancidity.
How to tell if flaxseed meal went bad
Flaxseed is rich in unsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fats. Those fats can go rancid over time, so you’ll likely have very clear signs when flaxseed meal has gone bad.
Some signs your flaxseed meal has gone bad:
- An off-putting smell; some describe rancid flaxseed meal as smelling like paint or even wet cardboard.
- Flaxseed meal has a bitter flavor instead of a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
- Any signs of mold from moisture entering the container.
What’s the danger in using flaxseed meal after it’s gone bad?
You aren’t likely to get seriously sick from eating bad flaxseed meal, which is good news. If flaxseed meal has gone rancid, you probably wouldn’t eat much of it before you realized that fact. If you did eat rancid flaxseed meal, you might end up with some stomach upset afterward.
Flaxseed meal isn’t usually used in large quantities (usually tablespoons at a time versus cups of more traditional types of flour), which is another thing that can protect you from getting sick from eating too much flaxseed meal after it’s gone bad.
Best storage practices for flaxseed meal
- Once you open a bag of flaxseed meal, put it in the fridge or freezer for storage, since room-temperature flaxseed meal doesn’t last very long.
- Store flaxseed meal in a tightly-sealed container to keep excess oxygen and moisture out, which can prolong its shelf life.
- Buy flaxseed meal in small packages if you don’t use it very quickly to help reduce potential waste.
If flaxseed meal has taken on a different color than its original golden or light brown color, then it could be a sign that it’s gone rancid. The best way to tell if it’s gone bad is to smell it and taste it.
Ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal) will go bad more quickly than whole flax seeds since it loses its protective outer coating, exposing the flaxseed meal to factors that lead to rancidity.