Tahini is always a spot whether used to complement a side dish, add oomph to a bowl of hummus, or to make a tangy vinaigrette. A little of this stuff goes a long way though and if you still have a lot of it leftover, you might wonder does tahini go bad? Read on to find out!
Does Tahini Go Bad?
Tahini has an impressively long shelf life but both the homemade and store-bought variety can go bad if not properly stored. Homemade tahini does not have preservatives and it is prone to ‘turning’ much faster than the store-bought stuff.
The main ingredient in tahini is sesame seeds and oil. The oil acts as a natural preservative and protects the paste against spoilage. Improper storage and oxidization can cause the oil to break down and become rancid and this is what is meant by tahini going bad i.e. when the top oil turns rancid.
We’ll talk about how to check if your jar has gone bad in a bit. But first, let’s take a look at the actual shelf life of tahini.
How Long Does Tahini Last?
There is no definitive answer to how long tahini lasts. Several factors will affect the shelf life of your sesame paste.
The first variable that will affect how long your jar of tahini can last is whether it is opened or unopened. The taste and freshness will begin to decline as soon as you open the jar of tahini. An unopened jar will last a few months longer than one that is already opened.
Another factor that plays into how long tahini lasts is whether it is homemade or store-bought. Tahini that is made at home does not have preservatives so you should consume it within a few days.
Store-bought tahini paste has a best-before, which will vary from one manufacturer to another. The best before-date is an indication of how long the tahini will retain peak freshness.
You can still consume the condiment a few months up to a year after the best-before date but you will notice the quality wane as the days go by.
Here is a quick summary of how long tahini lasts. These are just estimates and tahini can stay good weeks or months past the best-before date.
The Shelf Life of Tahini
|Store-bought tahini||4-12 months|
|1-3 days||1 week|
|Tahini (opened)||4-6 months|
|+6 months past best-before date|
4 Tips To Tell If Tahini Has Gone Bad
Trust your sense of sight, smell, and taste and you should be able to tell apart a jar of tahini that has turned and one that is still good to use.
Here are sure signs that your tahini needs to be binned.
1. Rancid smell
The oil that floats at the top of a jar of Tahini is supposed to preserve the underlying paste. However, when the condiment is exposed to oxygen, the oil will oxidize and develop a rancid smell. Look out for a metallic, bitter, or soapy smell, as this could be a sign of rancidity.
2. Unpleasant taste
If you want to ascertain the freshness of your tahini paste, you can taste a small scoop. Unless there is visible mold, tasting tahini that you suspect has gone bad will not necessarily harm you.
Check for a petrol-like taste or the taste of overstayed cooking oil and discard if this is the case. You definitely do not want to spoil your recipes with an off-tasting condiment.
Like peanut butter, tahini that has lost its freshness will lose its smooth consistency and begin to harden. You will mostly notice this with paste that has stayed too long or has been exposed to the elements. This is why it is important to tightly seal your jar of tahini after every use. You should also try to consume your sesame paste within the shortest time after opening the jar.
Mold on food is never a good sign. The oil in Tahini indeed makes it difficult for mold to grow in there but this does not completely rule out the possibility of mold growth.
In particular, check around the lips of the jar where it is exposed to air and moisture, which are the perfect conditions for mold growth.
Do not be tempted to just wipe the mold spores and continue using the Tahini. It is best to be safe and throw away that moldy jar. Tahini is not the cheapest condiment but you are better off not consuming mold-contaminated food.
3 Tips To Store Tahini
Proper storage is the surest way to keep your Tahini fresher for longer. This way, you can enjoy your sesame condiment well past the best-by date.
Here are some smart tahini storage tips:
1. Pantry storage
Many people like to refrigerate tahini and although there is nothing wrong with this, the best place to store is a pantry or kitchen cabinet. Tahini requires a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, heat, and humidity.
You should always keep an eye on the best-by date and expiry date if your particular brand has one. Be sure to keep your jar tightly sealed to prevent oxidation as this can lead to rancidity.
As we mentioned earlier, tahini has a relatively long life so it is not necessary to store it in the refrigerator. Of course, if you have homemade tahini at hand, we recommend refrigerating right away and consuming it within a few days.
Refrigeration might be a good choice if you live in a warm climate or during the summer. If you choose to go this route, be sure to tightly seal the jar before sticking it back in the fridge. Leaving the cap on loose will let in moisture and increase the risk of mold growth.
Keep in mind that tahini is sensitive to temperature changes so you will need to minimize the act of removing the tahini and putting it back in the fridge. If possible, scoop enough paste for the day and leave the rest in the fridge.
3. Use the right storage container
You should always store tahini in an airtight container to keep moisture, oxygen, and other contaminants away. The slightest amount of water will make tahini ‘turn’ so be careful to always keep the lid on the jar after every use.
For store-bought tahini, you can always store it in its original container. But, for home-made tahini, you will want to put it in a fridge-friendly airtight container and if possible, use the paste within a few days to enjoy peak quality.
Whether stored in the fridge or pantry, tahini will pick up smells from neighboring foods. Avoid this and retain the paste’s maximum freshness by always covering the container containing the sesame paste.
The Risks of Consuming Contaminated Tahini
Tahini takes a long time before it can truly go bad. The oil in the paste makes it difficult for mold and bacteria to thrive. However, it is still possible for mold to appear, especially on the lips of the bottle.
Avoid consuming Tahini that is exposed to mold spores. You might be unable to determine whether the mold is dangerous but we recommend that you err on the side of caution and discard the bottle. Some types of mold can be harmful and can cause symptoms as mild as tummy ache to more serious ones such as kidney failure.
You can still eat tahini that is a few weeks or even months past its best-by date. If your tahini seems to have gone rancid and shows no other signs of spoilage such as mold, it might be okay to consume.
Even though rancidity is not wholly dangerous to your health, you likely will not appreciate the foul smell or taste of rancid tahini and you are better off buying a new jar.
Can You Freeze Tahini?
You can freeze tahini as a long-term storage method. Just keep in mind that freezing can affect the texture and the sesame paste might not be as smooth and viscous.
If you decide to freeze tahini, here are a few pointers on how to do it:
- Make tahini ice-cubes: Pour tahini in ice cube trays and stick in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer the ice cubes into a re-sealable freezer-safe storage bag and freeze. This method lets you use one ice cube at a time and leave the rest of the tahini intact.
- Preserve leftovers: If you want to store a partially used jar of tahini, plastic wrap will come in handy. Simply place plastic wrap over the opening of the jar and replace the lid as usual. Cover the jar with another layer of plastic wrap to keep the tahini from picking up odors from other foods. Stick in the freezer until you are ready to use.
- Use re-sealable bags: This method is ideal for storing homemade tahini. Simply pour the paste in a re-sealable bag, seal, and place the bag in another re-sealable bag to protect against odor and moisture. Just be sure not to fill the tahini to the top to give it space to expand when it freezes.
Tahini has quite a long shelf life and storage in a cool, dark, and dry pantry is often enough to retain the paste’s freshness. You can extend the quality of tahini by storing it in an airtight container. This will protect it against oxidization and rancidity. If possible, use up your tahini as soon as you open it or buy in small quantities to enjoy maximum freshness.