How to store cooked oats
To ensure that your oatmeal stays fresh and retains its nutritional value, you need to learn how to store it correctly.
It’s always better to buy your oats in bulk and cook larger portions to save some money and time, but often people don’t understand how to keep oats fresh and end up throwing away a good portion that has gone bad or rancid.
How do you store cooked oatmeal? Store the cooked oats in an airtight container in the fridge. This will prevent it from spoiling or developing bacteria. Cooked rolled oats can be stored safely in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze cooked oats for up to 3 months.
Learning how to properly store oats can help you get the most out of your oats at home, and ensure none goes to waste. Read on for best storage practices for cooked oats and much more.
Storage of cooked oatmeal
It’s so easy to make more oatmeal than you can handle, and you don’t want to throw away your leftovers and waste good oatmeal.
There are some great ways to store cooked oatmeal to enjoy later, and you can even make a larger serving to save some for weeknight meals.
Cooked rolled oats can keep for up to 5 days if stored properly , allowing you to have rolled oats every day of the work week without having to cook them in the morning.
There are three different ways to store cooked oatmeal, all of which are great for different storage times:
- Refrigeration - The fridge is the easiest option for storing oats, especially if you plan to eat them in the next few days. You can separate the oats into individual portions and keep them in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezing - Using the freezer to store oats is for when you don’t plan to eat them for the next few days and want to further extend their shelf life. Oats stored in the freezer can be kept for up to 3 months.
- Dehydration - If for some reason you don’t want to keep your oats in the fridge or freezer, you can place them in a dehydrator. Once dehydrated, the oats can be kept in a cool, dry and dark place for 3 months. You have to use an airtight container to ensure that it maintains its optimal quality.
Either of these methods will work well for plain oats, but remember that you’ll need to add the toppings later. Some dressings don’t keep as well and will alter the texture and flavor of your rolled oats if stored together.
How to choose the best container to store cooked oats
When you go to store the remains of cooked oats, you have to choose an airtight container. This helps prevent extra moisture and air contact, which could cause the oats to spoil.
- Freezer bags – Freezer bags are a good option because they are durable and you can stack them on top of each other to save space. They have a semi-permeable membrane that helps keep the oats protected from moisture. The problem with freezer bags is that they are not necessarily reusable and they retain bad odors.
- Glass Containers - Glass containers are a popular choice for cooked oats. They close hermetically and the glass does not harbor bad odors and can be reused over and over again. There aren’t many drawbacks to using glass containers, but you should remember that glass can break easily and glass is heavier than plastic.
- Plastic Containers - Plastic containers are very convenient to use. The good ones close tightly, are stackable and durable. You can reuse plastic containers, but they retain bad odors, so care must be taken when using them to store cooked oatmeal.
Once the oats are cooked, you have to refrigerate them within 2 hours. You cannot leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as this favors the proliferation of bacteria, which could cause foodborne illnesses.
When you want to eat the rolled oats , you can leave them out at room temperature and then add more liquid to the flakes, stir and microwave to warm through, or heat on the stove until piping hot.
Remove from heat and stir again to make sure all the oats have heated through, add a little more liquid if needed, and enjoy.
How to keep dry oats for a long time
Where and how you store dry oats will determine how long it lasts. A few simple precautions will drastically extend the life of oats.
These are the conditions in which you must ensure that dry oats are preserved:
- Clean - Keeping the container and area where the oats are kept clean is important to ensure that pests do not spoil the oats.
- Cool - Temperature control is essential to ensure that oats retain their nutrients.
- Dark – There should be little light exposure to the oats, again to preserve the nutrients.
- Dry - Oats quickly absorb moisture, which can lead to mold and mildew. Store the oats in a dry place.
Once you know how to store oats, you can decide where to store them. Here are the best storage options:
- Pantry - The pantry is a good place to store dry oats, as long as it is well ventilated, dark, and cool.
- Refrigerator - Refrigerators are dark, cool, and dry, making them a perfect space for dry oats.
- Freezer - You can freeze dried oatmeal to further extend its shelf life, but it’s not ideal if you don’t have a lot of freezer space.
If stored under the right conditions, dried oat flakes can keep for up to 24 months.
After this they can be eaten, but they will not have the same high quality as before 24 months. This should be enough time to eat them all!
Can oat flakes go bad?
There is no exact test to know if oats are bad. You will have to rely on your senses to know if oatmeal is okay to eat.
If the oats look dull or discolored , or if they have a strange smell or taste, you should play it safe and throw out the oats. Look for obvious signs of mold , or if the oats have turned mushy.
If you have some old oatmeal to throw away, you can always use it to make a bath bomb, body scrub, or even a face mask.
We hope we’ve answered all of your burning questions about storing cooked oatmeal, but just in case you’re still curious, we’ve rounded up some common questions for you to explore below.
Can the oat ingredients be frozen?
If you like rolled oats with apples and cinnamon, or any other added ingredients, it’s best to cook the rolled oats plain before freezing and add them later when reheating.
Cooking these ingredients with the rolled oats the first time and then storing them in the fridge or freezer can cause them to become soggy and mushy when defrosting and reheating.
Spices also change flavor when frozen and thawed , so the cinnamon or nutmeg might not taste the same as when you ate the oats fresh.
Just let the oats thaw and add any additional ingredients and spices before microwaving or baking to soften and flavor all the oats.
Can the oats be made ahead of time and reheated?
Yes, you can make the oatmeal ahead of time and reheat it. Many people choose to do this to avoid having to cook oatmeal from scratch every day.
You can make a batch of oats on a Sunday, store individual servings in airtight containers in the fridge, and enjoy a serving of oats each morning throughout the week.
You can quickly reheat rolled oats in the microwave or oven and add any extras you like.
Can I eat oatmeal that has been sitting out all day?
You should avoid eating oatmeal that has been sitting out all day. The oats should not be left out for more than 2 hours.
Leaving it out at room temperature for longer increases the risk of bacteria growing, which could lead to foodborne illness.
Can I store the oats in a can?
Yes, you can store oats in a can if you have the proper canning equipment. The only problem with using a can is that it cannot be reclosed and can only be used once.
However, it is a good way to keep oats protected, dry, and in a dark environment.
What are the best ways to cook oats?
There are several ways to cook oats, from the stove to the microwave.
Our favorite way is to use an oatmeal cooker, but if you’re looking for a quicker solution or don’t want another appliance cluttering up your kitchen, there are plenty of other ways to cook oats to perfection.
In addition to these different cooking methods, there are many different ways to flavor and coat your rolled oats, from savory ingredients like eggs and avocado to sweet ingredients like cinnamon sugar and berries.
We’ve found a great tutorial on 6 different ways to cook oats, put together by the Simply Quinoa YouTube channel, below.
Storing Cooked Oats: Final Thoughts
You can keep a batch of dry oats in the pantry for up to a year if stored properly. Cooked oatmeal can be eaten up to 3 months after cooking if stored in the freezer.
There are a few ways to store both dry and cooked oats, so you never have to throw away leftovers or spoiled oats.
It is important that cooked oatmeal be stored in an airtight container. This alone offers great protection, and then choosing the perfect storage environment further increases the shelf life of the oats.
Cook up a batch of oatmeal, store it well, and enjoy it for quick and easy breakfasts throughout the week.