When you hear the word chia, do you picture the Chia Pet commercial and hear the words, “Ch, Ch, Ch, Chia?”
I had my first Chia Pet in the early 80s and to this day, every time I hear the word Chia, I think of that silly commercial.
However, these days, I buy chia seeds because they are a nutrient powerhouse and a staple in my cost-effective kitchen.
In this article, we’ll explore what chia seeds are and where they came from as well as how to store chia seeds and their shelf life.
Let’s get to the question at hand….
What Are Chia Seeds?
Chia seeds are the tiny edible seeds from a plant in the mint family known as Salvia hispanica. The seeds come in black and white varieties although they are technically a combination of several mottled colors.
Where Do Chia Seeds Come From?
Evidence suggests that chia seeds were cultivated as early as the 16th century by the Aztecs. The seeds are native to southern and central Mexico. Presently, they are commercially grown in Central and South America.
Are Chia Seeds Hydrophilic?
Yes, chia seeds are hydrophilic. When chia seeds are soaked, they will absorb up to 10-12 times their weight.
Do Chia Seeds Go Bad?
Yes, chia seeds do eventually go bad. They contain oil and will eventually turn rancid rendering them inedible. Fortunately, if stored properly, chia seeds last 2 to 4 years before spoiling.
How Do You Know If Chia Seeds Are Expired?
Many companies label their chia seeds with “best by” dates. Often these dates range anywhere from 18-24 months from the date packaged but if stored properly, the seeds may last many months or even several years past the “best by” date marked on the package.
You can soak your seeds in water or crush the seeds then smell and taste. If the seeds smell rancid or “off” or if they have an “off” flavor, discard and do not eat.
You should also avoid eating any seeds that show any type of growth.
Pro-Tip: Avoid scooping chia seeds out of the bag. Instead, pour the seeds onto your spoon or into your measuring cup. This helps ensure your seeds don’t get moldy by keeping damp or contaminated items out of your seeds.
Are Expired Chia Seeds Still Good?
As stated previously, many companies label their chia seeds with “best by” dates and not “use by” or “expiration date”.
If your seeds have reached their “best by” date, you should test them as mentioned above before consuming them.
Do Chia Seeds Need To Be Refrigerated After Opening?
No, chia seeds do not need to be refrigerated. With that said, you can refrigerate your seeds to extend their shelf life.
Just be sure to store them in an airtight container to prevent moisture buildup and to keep the seeds from picking up any “off” odors from your fridge.
You also want to avoid storing them in clear containers to help prevent oxidation of the oils.
What Happens When You Eat Expired Chia Seeds?
In my research, I could find no direct evidence that eating expired chia seeds could make you sick. But we all know eating spoiled foods can make us ill.
As we discussed earlier, most companies use a “best by” date so while their seeds may be beyond that date, it doesn’t mean the seeds have actually gone bad.
If your seeds have an off smell or bitter taste and you feel they have actually gone bad, do you really want to eat those seeds?
Is getting ill worth the risk? After all, a doctor’s visit will cost you more than replacing questionable chia seeds.
If your seeds have an off smell, bitter taste, or show any signs of growth on them, it is best to err on the side of caution and discard the entire container of seeds.
How To Store Chia Seeds
Chia seeds should be stored in a dark, cool, dry place. Think pantry or cabinet away from the sunlight and the heat of your oven.
Once opened, be sure to keep your chia seeds sealed in an airtight container to help extend their shelf life. You can use a freezer bag, airtight storage container, or glass container.
How Long Do Chia Seeds Last In Water
If you choose to soak your chia seeds, they will last up to 5 days in the fridge.
Chia Seeds Nutrition
In addition to being high in omega 3 fatty acids, according to the USDA’s Food Data Central, 100 grams (3.5274 ounces) contains the following:
- 486 calories
- 42.1 g carbohydrates
- 34.4 g dietary fiber
- 30.7 g fat
- 16.5 g protein
Chia seeds also contain the following vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin A equivalent
- Thiamine B1
- Riboflavin B2
- Niacin B3
- Folate B9
- Vit C
- Vit E
Chia Seed Benefits
Chia seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals making them an excellent addition to your diet.
How To Eat Chia Seeds
Chia seeds can be used to make chia seed pudding, eaten raw, sprinkled on top of yogurt, cereals, and bread. They can also be ground up and used in smoothies or granola bars. And they can also be added to salads.
Can Chia Seeds Be Cooked?
Yes, chia seeds can be cooked. However, extreme heat can dramatically reduce the omega-3 content of the seeds.
You can successfully boil, toast, or bake chia seeds for short periods of time.
Can You Freeze Chia Seeds?
Yes, you can freeze chia seeds to further extend their shelf life but you must keep the moisture level down or you will have chia gel instead of crunchy chia seeds once thawed.
The best way to freeze chia seeds is to vacuum-seal them and then freeze!
Other informational guides:
Because chia seeds are chock full of nutrients and high in fiber, they are a great addition to any kitchen. Throw in the fact that they have an extremely long shelf-life and you have a perfect nutrient-dense food to stock long-term.
Just be sure they are stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat and that you never get moisture or other contaminants in your seeds.