You might be thinking of purchasing instant potatoes (like Idahoan) in large batches, but then wondering how long they would last in the pantry before they become completely inedible.
The answer is that instant mashed potatoes last a really long time before they truly eventually lose their nutritional quality. Instant potatoes will only last this lengthy duration of time so long as you take the necessary measures to preserve it.
This article explains what instant potatoes are, how they’re made, how long they last on the pantry shelf, how you can be able to tell if your instant potatoes are bad and what you can do about them.
What are instant potatoes?
Instant potatoes, as the name suggests, are potatoes that have gone through the industrial process of peeling, cooking, mashing and dehydration in order to form a flaky substance that can easily be reconstituted back into a mashed potato with the addition of a hot liquid such as water or milk: thereby taking away the efforts of having to peel and boil potatoes yourself, as well as mash them into mashed potatoes.
Depending on the brand making the mashed potato, you can have various ingredients added for flavor and preservation. Examples include cheeses, roasted garlic and parsley, chive and meat flavor.
How are instant potatoes made?
Instant mashed potatoes are made exactly the same way home made mashed potatoes are made: by peeling the potatoes first, then cutting them in chunks, boiling or steaming, mashing, then dehydrating in order to remove the excess moisture in them (so as to produce a product that is shelf stable) and then lastly, added with all sort of flavoring ingredients and preservatives.
Such powder of flakes derived from the process can then be reconstituted and turned back into a mash by the simple addition of a hot liquid such as water or milk.
The powder or flakes nature of the product (along side some preservatives such as sodium acid pyrophosphate and sodium bisulfite, makes it so successful in storage.
The vacuum packaging also ensure that no air can access the medium and introduce moisture or microorganisms.
Do instant mashed potatoes ever spoil?
Instant mashed potatoes are still potatoes at the end of the day which means that eventually, they would reach a point of expiry where would have very little to benefit one nutritionally.
If that is so, at what point then do instant potatoes expire?
Typically, you would find imprinted on the packaging of instant mashed potatoes the best before date or the use by date.
These dates are an indication of when the time is, to best consume the product for the most nutritional value as well as taste and flavor
After that date, the manufacturer cannot longer guarantee that the taste and flavor of the product would remain the same, or mimic that of the true mashed potato, but in no way are they cautioning on the safety of the product as the vacuum seal of the packaging and the preservatives used in the products all ensure that it stays shelf stable and storable for a very long time; as long as 10 years in some cases.
On most packaging, you’ll find that the best by date is typically 1 year after production, then afterwards, you may encounter a change in taste, change in flavor, and change in the appearance of the product, but the product overall would still be safe to consume for many years to come so long as the packaging is intact and not broken.
Can You Use Instant Potatoes After The Expiration Date?
Almost all packets of instant mashed potatoes have a best before date of 1 year after manufacture. This in no way means that you cannot use the product after expiration of the date, however.
Expiry date is simply a mere indication of when the best time is for you to enjoy the product in order to enjoy and benefit from it the most.
Afterwards, the product may begin to gradually degrade in aspects such as appearance, taste and flavor.
You can eat instant mashed potatoes at least 3 to 4 years after expiry and still be fine. The most important thing is for you to check for the signs of spoilage first, and then if you find any, make sure to discard the mashed potato promptly.
How do you store Instant mashed potatoes?
Storing instant mashed potatoes is literally very easy. Most of the storage work has been done for you by packaging the product in with a vacuum seal
So all you have to do now is to find a cool, dark place, like the back of the pantry, and keep the instant mashed potatoes for as long as you like, or as the expiry date dictates.
Make sure to avoid places that receive direct sunlight because sunlight causes the quick deterioration of food and also causes the breakdown of some nutrients.
As a double layer of protection, you can choose to put the instant mashed potatoes in a plastic container, add some oxygen absorbers and then lid. Store the package in the pantry and this will ensure that the original packaging of the instant mashed potatoes is safe from pests during storage.
If you happen to open an instant mashed potato packet, use some quantity out of the packet, and want to store the leftover, then you can do so by sealing the opening and then putting the mashed potato packet inside a plastic freezer safe bag then storing it in the refrigerator.
The instant mashed potato should last for about a week there.
Make sure to use the refrigerated instant mashed potato as soon as possible to avoid running into a product that has deteriorated.
How do you know if instant mashed potatoes are bad?
You can identify instant mashed potatoes that are bad through the following ways.
- Openings or holes on the product packaging which would give access to moisture, insects and microorganisms that can cause deterioration in quality of the product.
- Growth of fungus like mold present on the flakes when you open it.
- Tiny insects moving about in the flakes which would indicate a broken seal during storage.
- Presence of lumps in the flakes which would indicate ageing, or a broken seal.
- A bitter or an off taste of the cooked mashed potatoes.
- Darkening of the mashed potatoes after cooking.
Storing leftover mashed potatoes for a very long time can also cause them to go bad, so for instant mashed potatoes that you have opened, make sure to store them in a sealed bag away from sunlight for no longer than a month.