When I don’t know how to satisfy my sweet tooth, I always go for some pancakes. There are so many ways to make them and various delicious fillings to make it even more perfect.
As your culinary imagination is the limit when it comes to ingredients, a fresh pancake mix is a must when making them.
Pancake mix is available at many grocery stores and it is quite simple to use, but the question of handling and shelf life is often not clear.
So, does pancake mix go bad? The good news is that it doesn’t go bad easily, and it certainly does not go bad in a traditional way, i.e. like most other types of foods and ingredients.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it can not get dangerous for some people and that it won’t lose its quality, so it is important to learn more.
Can Pancake Mix Go Bad?
When answering this question, you need to precisely define the term “bad”. If it means that the food will spoil when the harmful bacteria arise after some time, like with chicken, for example, then pancake mix can not go bad.
However, if the definition of the term is lower quality or mold appearance if you do not store the food properly, then your pancake mix certainly can go bad.
Pancake mix contains only dry, shelf-stable ingredients. These include flour, salt, sugar, and rising agents (baking soda and/or baking powder).
Flour, salt, and sugar have a ridiculously long shelf life and they can maintain quality for a very long time. Baking soda and baking powder also won’t go bad that easily, but they can lose their potency after some time, leading to less-palatable pancakes.
Another problem is mold. Mold won’t appear by itself, but as a consequence of poor storage, i.e. when you let moisture in because mold feeds on moisture.
So, based on this information, let’s first see what the exact shelf life of pancake mix is, and later on, what the best storage practices are, in order to avoid these negative consequences.
So, What Is Its Shelf Life?
Pancake mix is one of those shelf-stable ingredients, like tahini, flour, etc.
Indeed, once you buy the package of pancake mix from your local grocery store, you can expect it to last for about 6 to 12 months.
However, in this case, it is best to check the “best by date”. By that time your pancake mix will offer you the best possible quality, but you can also consume it up to 1 year past that printed date if the package is unopened.
But my recommendation is to use it within 6 months past that date because its quality won’t deteriorate much within that time frame.
When it comes to an opened package of pancake mix, there is not much difference. If you store it the right way, it will stay good for the exact same amount of time, so you shouldn’t worry about that.
Can You Eat Expired Pancake Mix?
Interestingly, most people don’t know that the expiration date is actually a “best by date”, which means that it only says how long the ingredients will maintain its best quality, rather than how long it will be safe for consumption.
The same goes for pancake mix, as it is usually safe to eat it past that date. As I already said, it will even maintain its quality for a few months after, usually up to 6 months.
However, after that time, its potency will slowly start to deteriorate and rapidly accelerate after 1 year, although it will still be safe for consumption if stored the right way.
The cause of this deteriorated quality is baking soda and baking powder, which tend to deteriorate after that time. So, if you use pancake mix with deteriorated rising agents, you will end up with flat and chewy pancakes, instead of light and fluffy ones.
How To Fix Its Quality Once It Expires?
Fortunately, there is a way to fix this problem. If you are not sure that your pancake mix is at its peak quality, it is best to do a simple test.
First, simply prepare the right amount of pancake mix you are planning to use for making your pancakes.
After that, make a single pancake and check its quality. If it is light and fluffy, your pancake mix is probably good and ready to create more of those delicious sweet treats.
However, if the texture and consistency are not what you expected, you need to make some adjustments, i.e. add some extra baking powder.
If they are so flat that you can not eat them, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder per cup of pancake mix.
If they are not completely awful, but still not as fluffy as you would like, add another teaspoon per cup of pancake mix.
If they are okay to a great extent, but you think that they could benefit from some extra rise, ½ teaspoon per cup will be enough.
One extra piece of advice. If you have both baking soda and baking powder, add 2 teaspoons of baking powder and ⅛ teaspoon of baking soda per cup of pancake mix you used. This can add extra quality, but if you don’t have baking soda, baking powder alone is perfectly fine.
However, I have to emphasize that, if you are not sure, it is always better to avoid eating expired pancake mix no matter what.
How To Know When It Is Bad?
I already said that pancake mix can not go bad in a traditional way that easily, but there are certainly some other ways that it can become unpalatable, so it is very important to know about them. Here are the signs of spoilage:
• Mold is the Biggest Enemy: Although pancake mix probably won’t get moldy on its own, long-term improper storage can easily create it. So, if you see any mold or mold spots in the package, get rid of it to stay on the safe side.
• Large Wet Clumps: If you are not sure that there is mold, but you see large clumps or any other organic growth, throw the package of pancake mix in the trash, especially if the bag has been opened.
• Presence of Pantry Bugs: Pests, larvae, or eggs can penetrate any type of food and they are certainly not there to be consumed.
• Off-Smell: If your pancake mix smells moldy, sour, or “funny”, something is definitely wrong, and you shouldn’t use it anymore.
• Unsealed Packaging: If you don’t notice any of these signs, but your pancake mix has been sitting half-open and uncovered for several months, you should toss it for safety reasons.
• 2 Years Past the Expiration Date: Pancake mix can stay good for a really long time, but you have to know the limits. If it has been sitting for 2 years or longer, you shouldn’t consume it. The USDA states that cakes, brownies, and bread mixes can last 12-18 months unopened, and after opening you should follow the package used by date. The same applies to pancake mix.
The American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology covered the story of a 19-year-old man that proves this thesis. Namely, he ate two pancakes made from an opened pancake mix that was 2 years old, had an anaphylactic shock, and died.
Considering this, you have to be really careful with old pancake mixes.
One more note: Know that dry clumps are pretty normal, i.e., they are not a red flag, and you can break them apart by simply using a fork or a teaspoon.
How To Store It Properly?
You now see that there is a possibility that your pancake mix can spoil, especially if it gets moldy. Aside from knowing the shelf life, it is also very important to know how to store it properly in order to avoid this.
If you just bought pancake mix from the grocery store or supermarket, and you didn’t open it, just leave it in its original packaging and store it in the pantry.
Take note that the place must be cool and dry, as well as away from any direct sunlight or high heat sources. This is because these conditions can easily create moisture, consequently causing mold to form.
When it comes to the opened bag, the key is sealing it tightly. You can leave the mix in the original bag, but you have to seal it with a twist tie or sealing clip.
This will keep moisture, mold spores, and pantry bugs away. Also, keep that bag in a cupboard.
If you want to be even more sure of your pancake mix safety, you can transfer it to an airtight container, or just transfer the original packaging in a resealable bag.
Can You Freeze Or Refrigerate Pancake Mix?
Although refrigeration and freezing are generally able to extend the shelf life of many food items, like freezing flour for example, they are not so successful when it comes to pancake mix.
It will probably extend the shelf life of the mix for some period, but nothing significant.
Aside from that, most manufacturers recommend avoiding refrigeration since baking powder can lose its potency more easily at lower temperatures.
So, it is not out of hand to make pancake mix and freeze it, in case you want your pancakes quickly, instead of relying on the mix.
After freezing, you don’t even need to defrost it. Just stir it a little bit, and it will be ready to make your perfectly delicious pancakes.
So does pancake mix go bad? Here are some key takeaways:
• Pancake mix won’t go bad in a traditional way, but it can get moldy or pests-infected if not stored properly.
• Unopened pancake mix will be good for around 1 year, but for the best quality, you should consume it within 6 months.
• Once you open it, use it within 6 months for the best quality.
• When storing pancake mix, it is essential to seal it tightly and keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources, ideally in the pantry. Once opened, it is best to transfer it to an airtight container.