Making protein bars is a popular snack among those who want a healthy source of nutrition. You decide what ingredients to put in by following any recipe with your choice of protein powder.
This source of nutrition can keep the busiest people energized and full while staying active with a couple of bites. It’s also a great post-workout snack to sustain energy levels or aid in gaining muscles or weight.
However, storing homemade protein bars on the shelf isn’t ideal for the sustainability of ingredients, as some can expire within less than three days.
This article will reveal how long protein bars can be kept on a shelf for edibility, what ingredients sustain shelf life, what ingredients to avoid, and general tips on keeping your protein bars up to their quality par.
How Long do Homemade Protein Bars Last?
Homemade protein bars can be stored at room temperature for up to one week. Any longer than that they can become a little stale.
Package them in a tight container so no air can seep through to avoid drying them out. You can even wrap them in tinfoil, plastic wrap, or wax paper.
For a chewy texture, it’s best to keep them packaged on a shelf or fridge rather than the freezer.
Since protein bars are made with raw ingredients, shelf life is minimal. However, making them more frequently and eating them before they go stale is an option if you don’t want to eat them cold.
Refrigerated protein bars can be kept fresh for up to one month.
However, storing them in a cool and dry temperature will make them last longer. This healthy snack can be put in the freezer and live up to par, for three months while frozen. You can wrap them individually and place them in the freezer.
Freezer-stored protein bars can last up to six months.
What Protein Bars Have the Longest Shelf Life?
Protein bars high in protein have an improved texture and elongated shelf life in comparison to conventional protein bars. To make a high protein bar, soy protein products are most commonly used as they are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
A study showed a protein-rich cereal bar’s storage life is significantly determined by what packaging it’s wrapped in.
The results of this study showed that a protein-rich bar remained shelf-stable for three months wrapped in polypropylene (PP) and for six months packaged in paper aluminum foil polyethylene, metalized polyester (MP) followed by vacuum packaging in metalized polyester films (MP plus) under 37°C temperature circumstances.
Moisture plays a large role in defining the quality and shelf life of homemade sugar protein bars. Water is an important part of the process of making the bars. It combines the texture and most importantly is a critical factor in maintaining shelf life.
A study showed that the hardening of protein bars is determined by the migration of water from protein to the microstructural separation of accumulated protein.
Therefore, creating sugar protein bars with water can help sustain its quality to be left on the shelf for longer.
Natural Preservatives for Protein Bars
Protein snack bars contain high-quality protein, sugars, and molecular polyhydroxy compounds (PHS), high energy fats, and added water.
Sometimes, these ingredients may react to one another that can affect storage life, and create sensory characteristics that are intolerable to the eater.
This study showed the changes occurring in a model protein bar during storage for 50 days at 20 °C.
Further studies suggest that chemical reactions play little part in the hardening of protein bars and that changes in molecular mobility and changes in microstructure driven by moisture migration may be more important.
From this research, it is suggested that the shelf life quality of homemade protein bars are intermediate-moisture foods due to its moisture of the combination of ingredients packed together.
Best Ingredients to Store
Use high-quality ingredients such as granola, flour, oats, nut butter are excellent for stable storage. Make sure to add lots of water so the ingredients stick together. Any type of nuts is a great additive in this snack.
Any type of nuts for a crunch and raisins, chocolate, or dates for chewiness. Dried fruits have extended shelf life in the pantry for up to six months on their own. In combination with the protein bar though, a week is ideally the maximum time length at room temperature.
Nuts’ shelf life is also six months on its own. However, the long life is strongly influenced by storage conditions. Nuts stored in a shell typically last longer than shell-less nuts.
Keep dried fruit or nut containers packaged correctly with no air openings to sustain its quality to its maximum. This will prevent the major ingredients to not go stale or rotten. Place nuts of dried fruit in the fridge to extend the shelf life as cooler temperatures sustain quality for an extended period of time.
Better yet, you can use a natural sweetener such as honey or maple syrup instead of chocolate to increase shelf life. Or, sugar-free chocolate.
Avoid unhealthy sweeteners though, such as high fructose corn syrup.
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Protein Bar Ingredients That Impede Shelf Life
A study showed that some glassy sugars tend to be hygroscopic, which can rapidly pick up moisture from the air, which can cause substantial changes that lead to the end of shelf life. These products need to be protected from moisture uptake during storage.
The bottom line is to either store protein bars with sugary ingredients in the fridge or freezer or eat them in three days (if on the shelf) to upkeep the edibility and quality.
How to Make Shelf Stable Protein Bars
Outlined below is a protein bar recipe for the healthiest protein bars for long-living pantry storage.
- 2 cups of dry cereal of your choice (Whole grain cheerios work best if not gluten-free)
- 2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
- ½ cup of smooth nut butter (almond butter)
- ½ brown rice syrup (instead of honey) and ¼ water
- Chocolate chips (sugar-free)
- Use a baking tray with baking paper
- Grab a large mixing bowl and mix cereal with protein powder
- Heat up nut butter, sweetener, and pour it into the large mixture, and stir
- Pour the complete mixture into the baking tray and press it into place to cover the tray. Refrigerate for thirty minutes.
- ¼ cup of peanut butter
- ¼ water, ¼ cup of nuts (almonds)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup, ¼ chocolate chip (sugar-free)
- ¾ whole grain oat flour
- ¼ soy protein powder
- Baking pan with wax or parchment paper
- Combine peanut butter, water, maple syrup in a large mixing bowl. Add oat flour, soy protein powder, and mix.
- Press oat mixture into bottom of the pan evenly
- Heat up the chocolate chips in the microwave and pour over the mixture surface.
- Cool baking dish in refrigerator for thirty minutes after baked.
Dried fruit protein bars shelf life and taste work best with oats, honey, and your choice of protein powder (such as whey protein, plant based protein for vegan protein bar, or soy protein powder) with any additional nut butter and nuts.
As dried fruit has a long shelf life, you can substitute or add the fruit in any of the above recipes.
Amazon has Organic Vanilla Protein Powder that is high in protein and is perfect to make in a protein bar for a post-workout snack
Can Protein Powder Go Bad?
Dietitian Scott Keatley, founder of Keatley Medical Nutrition Therapy suggests that you should keep your protein powder sealed and stored at a cooler temperature. It can last for months exceeding the expiry date.
Generally, foods tend to go bad because of bacteria, fungi, oxygen, heat, and moisture. By sealing the container, no air or bacteria can seep into it.
Even if you do use expired protein powder, it won’t make you sick or anything if you’ve stored it properly. The one ingredient to look out for that may cause trouble is fat and can go rotten if used past the due date.
However, if not careful the moisture or air can cause the fat to go bad – to the extent of a foul smell upon opening. It also may blot together in clumps, indicating mold.
It’s best to avoid expired protein containers, or only use the protein that you stored properly that doesn’t have any of the above-mentioned risk factors.
Tips for Keeping Protein Powder High-Quality
By following these tips for maximum storage quality, your protein powder will stay as fresh as you need for a suitable protein bar mix.
- Stash the container in a cool, and dry place such as a pantry or cupboard
- Avoid putting the protein powder on top of the fridge. The hot air and humidity can shorten the shelf life.
- Ensure the scooper you use is dry. Water can seep into the powder and can cause bacteria to grow, even worse increase the risk of mold growth.
- A more surprising tip is to keep the powder in the same package
Making long-lasting, homemade protein bars is more efficient when you know how long the ingredients can live on your shelf, and the precautions you should take when storing them.
One week for the shelf, three months for the fridge, and six months for the freezer. no added sugar will prolong the shelf life. sugar-free dark chocolate is a healthy alternative. Avoid artificial sweeteners.
This healthy snack is perfect for on the go athletes, or anyone trying to bulk up on protein while being mindful of the low carbs involved in the manufacturing.
To sustain its top-notch shelf quality, package each bar in a tightly sealed wrapper such as tin foil so no air can seep through and make it stale.
Ensure the protein powder container is sealed tightly, you wouldn’t want mold or bacteria to get in and make you sick from eating your intentionally delicious bar – even if it’s past the due date.
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