How Long Does Popcorn Last?
You've been here before — a sudden craving for delicious popcorn, whether salty and buttery or a gourmet option with sweet and fun flavors. Luckily, you've got some on hand, but perhaps it's been around for a few days. Maybe you aren't even sure when you got it. So can popcorn go bad? How long does popcorn keep, anyway?
We've got the answers so you can continue on your snacking adventure or replenish your stock of delicious popcorn! Learn more about popcorn shelf life below so you can enjoy your favorite snack.
How Long Is Popcorn Good For?
The lifespan of your popcorn will depend on a handful of factors about the product you get. You can be looking at a popcorn shelf life from a couple of days for popped options to almost a year for kernels.
If your popcorn is pre-popped, buy from a reliable business that pops their corn in small batches before distributing or sending it your way. That helps you get the longest shelf life possible, rather than buying a product popped in a large batch from a few days to weeks ago.
If you want kernels to keep for a while, choose dry, plain ones that you can add flavorful oils or butter to and keep for longer. Microwaveable kernel options don't last as long as dry ones, so consider getting a container of dry kernels to get your popcorn fix instead. Be sure not to buy too big of a bag at once, unless you go through plenty of popcorn and have a large enough container to store it in.
How long your popcorn keeps for will also depend on how you store it. If you haven't opened a container of popcorn yet, keep it in a cool, dry place. If you have cracked into a package of popcorn, keep it in an airtight container, again in a cool, dry place. A vacuum-seal container works for a package of dry kernels that you've opened, but it may not work as well for popped options because it could affect the texture.
Does Popcorn Go Bad?
If you have a tin of popcorn that's been around for a while, you'll wonder if it can go bad. Popcorn mainly turns stale, instead of spoiling the way other foods do. That does lead to a less delicious product, but it's not unsafe to eat. Still, almost every food can go bad and be risky to eat with enough time and the wrong conditions, so store your popcorn the right way to help keep it from going to waste.
How to Tell If Popcorn Is Bad
The texture and taste of your popcorn will tell you if it's gone bad. If you haven't sealed your popcorn correctly, it'll be stale. The texture won't be as fluffy, and instead of a crunch, it may have more of a soft chew to it. While that doesn't always mean your popcorn is unsafe to eat, it's not an enjoyable popcorn experience.
As for the taste, flavored popcorn varieties can lose their flavor or not taste as good as they did when you first got them. Again, this isn't always a sign that your popcorn is bad, just that it's time to get a new package to enjoy the delicious flavors you love.
In rare cases, if you've had popcorn for an extended time, and moisture got into the storage container, you could notice mold. That's very unlikely and won't happen with an airtight container in a dry place. If you aren't sure how long you've had your popcorn, but want to eat some, it's worth it to do a quick check to be safe.
You'll know if dry kernels have gone bad based on how well they pop. If you notice more kernels left behind after popping than when you first got the package, it could be a sign that either you aren't storing them in an airtight container or you've had them for a while. You can still pop and eat this popcorn, but the texture may be less enjoyable, and you'll end up with more unpopped kernels than usual.
Shelf Life Based on Different Types of Popcorn
You've probably had different popcorn varieties in your pantry at some point. So does the type of popcorn you have change how long it's good for? Yes! The shelf life of popcorn depends on what kind you have and whether it's popped or unpopped.
- Popped popcorn: If left unopened, popped popcorn will be good for around two to four weeks. Once you open the package, the shelf life drops to one to two weeks.
- Gourmet popcorn: With delicious toppings and flavors, gourmet popcorn can have a different shelf life than standard popped popcorn. That shelf life will depend on what seasonings are on your specialty popcorn. Stick with keeping gourmet popcorn in an airtight container to help it last as long as possible.
- Unpopped popcorn: Popcorn kernels keep indefinitely with the right, airtight storage, but try to pop and eat kernels within six months to a year of getting them. Over time, they'll lose their ability to pop as consistently, and they may have a slightly less fluffy texture than when you first got them. That's because as time goes on, popcorn kernels lose the moisture inside that makes them pop. An airtight container is essential for keeping your popcorn long-lasting because it helps kernels retain their moisture.
- Microwaveable popcorn: While microwaveable popcorn packages contain kernels, they don't keep as long as plain kernels. Manufacturers pack microwavable popcorn with oils, which won't taste good over time. Try to use microwaveable popcorn by the expiration date, but you can sometimes go up to three months past that date.
Check any recommendations on the packaging of whatever popcorn you have for more specifics on shelf life and expiration dates.
How to Keep Gourmet Popcorn Fresh
Whether sweet, savory or a combination of flavors, there's nothing better than a tin full of gourmet popcorn. The average American eats nearly 45 quarts of this crunchy snack each year — that's a lot of popcorn!
It's clear that popcorn is a favorite for many, but with so many quarts consumed per year, there are bound to be times when you find it challenging to finish a tin in one sitting. Thankfully, you can do a few things to help your gourmet popcorn stay fresh for as long as possible.
Tips for Helping Popcorn Stay Fresh Longer
Don't let leftover gourmet popcorn go to waste. By storing your popcorn correctly, you can enjoy this tasty treat over and over again. Here are a few helpful ways to store your snacks:
1. Store Out of Direct Sunlight
Avoid storing your gourmet popcorn in or near direct sunlight. Because popcorn comes from a type of corn, it naturally responds to conditions like light exposure and humidity. Even airtight containers can get too warm inside if left in the sun, and that warmth may interfere with your popcorn storage.
Plus, many gourmet toppings — including chocolate and caramel drizzles — can melt quickly in the sun, which might cause your popcorn to stick together inside the container.
2. Let the Popcorn Reach Room Temperature
The ideal moisture level for a piece of popcorn is about 14%, which is the amount a kernel needs to pop successfully. If you're munching away on a fresh tin of warm kettle corn, always let it come to room temperature before storing it in a container. Otherwise, the container will trap the warm popcorn with its own steam, and the excess moisture will cause it to lose freshness and become stale faster.
If you want your fresh gourmet popcorn to cool faster before storage, spread it in an even layer on a baking sheet and set it in a cool, dark place until it's ready. Just be sure to avoid the refrigerator.
3. Use an Airtight Container
The more airtight the storage container, the better. If left uncovered, popcorn will lose its natural moisture and get dry and stale. For an even tighter seal, cover the top of your container in a layer of plastic wrap before putting on the lid. After you secure the lid, place your container in your cupboard or pantry until you're ready to resume snacking.
Can You Freeze Popcorn?
While you should never store popcorn in the refrigerator, freezing your popcorn might actually help it last longer than it would in an airtight container alone.
To freeze your popcorn, follow these steps:
- Seal your popcorn in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Add a layer or two of plastic wrap between the lid and the popcorn.
- Wrap your container in a freezer-grade plastic or foil and set it on a level surface in your freezer.
- When you're ready to eat your popcorn, simply remove it from the freezer and start snacking!
Keep in mind that any toppings, such as caramel or peanut butter, will likely be frozen solid. Proceed cautiously to avoid hurting your teeth.
You should also note that, while freezing popped popcorn is a great method for prolonging freshness, you should not freeze unpopped kernels, as it could affect their ability to pop correctly. Once you remove your popped popcorn from the freezer, you want to avoid refreezing, which will diminish the quality and taste.
Best Containers for Popcorn Storage
The best way to store popped popcorn is in an airtight container — but which type is best? Popcorn tins, as well as plastic and glass storage containers with sealable lids, are the best for ensuring freshness. If you plan on freezing your leftover popcorn, look for containers marked as freezer-safe. For most containers, you can determine this by looking for a snowflake symbol on the bottom. Whichever type of vessel you choose, make sure it has a fully sealable, airtight lid.
Some containers come with a section for labels so you can name and date the items inside. If yours doesn't have one, mark the date on a piece of tape and put it on your container so you know how long it has been in the freezer or pantry when you're ready to remove it.
Popped popcorn typically has no specific expiration date and should last several days or weeks if stored correctly. However, different types of popcorn and gourmet toppings may respond differently to storage than others.
What If It's Too Late?
Does popcorn get stale even when stored in an airtight container? Eventually, yes. Even when stored correctly, gourmet popped popcorn will begin to lose its freshness after a while — but don't worry! If you waited a little too long to eat your popcorn or forgot to store it in an airtight container, there are still plenty of ways you can use it:
- Revive it: You can revive some stale popcorn in the oven. To do this, spread an even layer of popcorn on a baking sheet and bake in a 250-degree oven for five minutes. Keep in mind this method may not be suitable for all types of gourmet popcorn, especially those topped with easily meltable ingredients, like chocolate.
- Mix it with something else: If your gourmet popcorn is a little stale, you can hide some of that flavor by mixing it with other, fresher ingredients. For example, you could toss it into a batch of homemade trail mix or create bite-size popcorn balls.
- Use it as a topping: The only way to make gourmet popcorn even more delicious is to add it to ice cream! If you're not sure what to do with your leftover snack, top off a bowl of your favorite ice cream for a truly indulgent experience.
Order Gourmet Popcorn From Bedford Candies
If your mouth is watering for some gourmet popcorn, we have you covered at Bedford Candies. With our selection of delicious popcorn creations, you won't have to worry about a shelf life with how often you'll snack and come back for more — your only concern will be ordering again to fulfill your popcorn cravings! From trios and tins to Seasonal Popcorn Flavors , we've got something everyone will enjoy, whether you gift our treats or enjoy them for yourself.
Order gourmet popcorn from Bedford Candies today and taste the care we put into crafting each delectable flavor!