Does Barley Go Bad? How To Extend Its Shelf Life?

Are you confused about whether that package of barley in your cabinet has gone bad? Like any other food grain, barley has a best before, after which its quality will deteriorate. Storing it in bulk will only lead to wastage. Especially if you live in a hot and humid region, heat, moisture, and bacteria will hamper the taste, texture, and quality of your grains with time.

Therefore, the sooner you consume barley, the better it will be in taste and quality. So it is a wise idea to store it in small quantities and save your money and energy!

In this article, we will tell you if barley goes bad, how to increase the shelf life of your cooked and uncooked barley, and the 4 signs it has expired. So let’s get started!


How Long Does Barley Last?

How long your barley will last depends on whether it is cooked or uncooked. Let’s take a closer look at:


 Uncooked barley


For around 1 to 2 years, your uncooked barley will remain at its best quality if you keep it at room temperature.

Moreover, If you have not opened your barley package and stored it properly, it can be fit for consumption for up to 3 years.

However, once opened, barley will last in your kitchen cabinet for around 12 to 18 months before going bad.

Even after the best before date, your packaged barley can be consumed for up to 3 months.


Cooked barley


Like other cooked foods, the shelf life of cooked barley will also be shorter than that of uncooked barley. Moreover, at room temperature, it could last for just 24 hours.

But don’t worry! Your cooked barley can last as long as a week in the fridge and a month in the freezer.


4 Simple Ways To Identify If Your Barley Has Gone Bad:

We have enlisted below 4 simple but foolproof ways to determine whether your barley is fit for consumption:


Look at its color

With time, discoloration will occur in barley grains due to bacteria and moisture. Hence, if you notice that your barley has gown brown, it can be a sign that it has exceeded its ‘best before’/’best by’ date.


Smell it


Another way of identifying whether you barely have spoiled is to smell it. If you notice a rancid smell coming from your barely, tossing off!


Look at its texture

Due to moisture, your barley can get spoilt and become a breeding ground for insects and worms. Take a handful of barley kernels and carefully examine them. If you notice mold growth or tiny bugs on them, it’s time to stop consuming them immediately!


Taste it


This is the last step to determine if your barley has gone bad. If you don’t find any signs of mold growth, insects, or a foul odor from your barley, chew a few kernels. If they develop an unusual taste, throw it away.


What Happens When You Eat Expired Barley?


While you may not get seriously ill by consuming expired barley, it can ruin the taste of your recipe.

The reason behind this is that expired barley develops a foul smell and tastes bad, which will manifest itself in your dishes.

Moreover, expired barley will lose many vital nutrients, making it less healthy.

While even after the expiry date, your packaged barley can be consumed for up to 3 months, we recommend you to consume it as soon as possible.

The earlier you consume it, the better it will be in nutritional content!


 The Best Way To Store Barley

Now that you know the average shelf life of cooked and uncooked barley let’s learn how to store them and elongate their self-life.


Uncooked Barley

Follow these tips to increase the shelf life of uncooked barley:

  • Place it in an airtight container or a plastic bag.
  • Make sure you close the lid tightly. If you’re using a plastic bag, go for zippered bags.
  • Then, place it in your pantry or kitchen cabinet. This will keep your barley fresh and prevent it soak up moisture and odors from other foods.


  Cooked Barley

Follow these tips to increase the shelf life of uncooked barley:

  1. Refrigerating:fridge

Like any other cooked food, cooked barley also has a shorter life span than uncooked barley. But the good news is that refrigerating it could increase its shelf life.

  • Transfer your cooked barley into an airtight bag/container.
  • Then, place it in your fridge. This will prevent the barley from absorbing moisture and odor from other foods stored in the refrigerator. It will last up to 3-6


  1. Freezing:freezer

 Your cooked barley can last up to 3 months in your freezer. We understand your busy schedule means you can’t cook your favorite barley recipe very often. No problem!

  • Just let your barley recipe cool down before freezing. This is because hot barley will cause condensation in the container and makes it soggy.
  • Once you’re barely at room temperature, transfer it into a plastic bag or a freezer-safe container and seal it tightly.

Note: While the Whole Grain Council states that you can freeze barely for up to 3 months, it is always a better idea to consume it within a month to obtain its maximum benefits.




1. Is it important to rinse barley before cooking it?

Like rice, oats, and other food grains, it is important to rinse barley thoroughly with cold water before cooking it. This will wash away dirt, debris, insects, and extra starch.


2. Can I refreeze barley?

No, it would be best if you did not refreeze barley after defrosting it. Doing so will make it go soggy and lose its flavor.



  To sum up, the shelf life of your barley depends more on whether it is cooked or uncooked and less on the storage conditions.

While uncooked barley can last up to 3 years when stored properly, cooked barley may last only up to a month, even in the freezer.

By now, we hope you’re aware of how to extend the shelf life of your barely to its maximum and identify when it’s time to discard it.

Also, if you have any other queries, please reach out to us in the comment section below! We will be delighted to help you!

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