Looking Backward Into the Present

Using the Popular Culture of the Past to Help Answer Perplexing Questions in the Present

What is the Shelf Life of Dried Pasta?

My wife and I were waiting to be seated in one of our favorite Little Italy restaurants, when we noticed jars of dried pasta in glass containers on the shelves (for decoration) that looked like they had been there for years.  We wondered out loud to each other if that pasta would still be good.  She said yes…I said no. 


Many experts agree that the normal shelf-life of dried pasta is two years, presuming it is stored in an airtight container.  One of the biggest problems with long-term storage of pasta is that it will become a breeding ground for bacteria or small bugs. 


However, if the pasta on the shelf was perfectly stored could it still be eaten? According to www.shelfreliance.com, spaghetti could be edible for 10 years in a desperate situation.  However, there’s no telling if the nutritional value would still be maintained.  According to www.containerandpackaging.com, “Pasta will store longer than flour if kept dry. Hermetically sealed in the absence of oxygen, plan on a storage life of 10-15 years at a stable temperature of 70°F. Pasta should keep proportionately longer if stored at cooler temperatures.”


However, that is under perfect conditions.  So as much as it hurts me to be right, I would probably say that the pasta on the shelf in that restaurant would probably not be good to eat.

Incidentally, according to the National Pasta Association (www.ilovepasta.org), the American pasta industry was founded in 1848 by Antoine Zerega, a flour miller from Lyon, France. 


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