Tortellini originated in the Bologna region of Italy where it still plays a starring role. The tiny pasta pockets might contain ground meat, cheese or vegetable purees. Fresh tortellini is the most perishable -- typically lasting less than one week. Frozen tortellini has a shelf life of several months, while dried tortellini can last for one year or more. Use your senses to gauge whether the pasta has spoiled, but when in doubt, throw it out.
Check the sell-by date on an unopened package. So long as fresh tortellini was properly packaged and refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be good through at least this date. Commercially frozen tortellini must be kept at zero F. and eaten by the sell-by date. Dried tortellini doesn't need to be refrigerated, but you should still look for an expiration date.
Evaluate how long the tortellini has been in storage if the package was opened. For example, leftover or opened fresh tortellini can safely be stored in the refrigerator at 40 F. for up to three days. Frozen tortellini leftovers kept at zero F. remains safe to eat indefinitely, although quality declines after three or four months. Refrigerate leftover tortellini no more than 2 hours after serving it; that wiggle room shrinks to 1 hour in hot weather. If the tortellini sat out for longer than this time period, throw it out.
Smell the tortellini. Throw it out if you notice any sour or unpleasant odors. Examine the tortellini, as well. Discard pasta that looks slimy or has signs of mold growth.
- Wrap any leftover tortellinis tightly in plastic wrap or put them in a covered container before you refrigerate or freeze them. Write the date on leftovers that are headed for the freezer. Keep in mind that not all sauces freeze well. Leftover tortellini with marinara sauce can go in the freezer, but cream sauces sometimes separate or curdle.
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."
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