Tofu has risen to popularity as a meat substitute in both the vegan and meat-eating world. Not only is it full of protein, but it’s also extremely versatile. Its own lack of flavor and ability to absorb other flavors makes it a flexible ingredient in a range of recipes. But, just like other proteins, tofu can go bad. Despite being plant-based, eating bad tofu can give you all the same symptoms of eating rotten meat. When tofu reaches the point of spoiling, enzymes and bacteria begin to break down the proteins in the tofu into peptides and amino acids, giving the tofu a certain smell and taste. Additionally, because of tofu’s moisture, it’s the perfect place for bacteria and mold to fester, causing the tofu to spoil. Here’s how to know if tofu is bad.

The Expiration Date

When you purchase tofu, the package has a “best by” date, indicating the date until which the tofu will maintain its best quality. So, it’s totally fine to eat it after this date.

Unopened, refrigerated tofu can last three to five days in the refrigerator. Once it’s opened, you can keep it fresh by storing it in an airtight container with new water. It’ll last for three to five days after this.

Unrefrigerated packaged tofu can last up to three months, but once it’s opened, you only have up to five days before it goes bad.

If you want to extend the life of your tofu, you can freeze it, just like you would do with meat. Frozen tofu can last for months, but the texture will change to a chewier, more meat-like texture. 

The Smell

Even though tofu lacks a scent, it emits a smell when it becomes rotten. Bad tofu develops a strong sour smell, and one that isn’t hard to miss. So if you’re in doubt about whether your tofu has gone bad or not, just take a sniff!

The Color

You can also tell if your tofu is rotten by using your eyes. When rotten, tofu trades its signature creamy white color for a brown. It can even have mold if it’s been bad for long enough.