Does tahini go bad? Will those ground up sesame seeds turn rancid? If so, how long have I got and how do I tell? All this, and more, will be revealed in today’s post!
Those of you who’ve been reading my blog for a while will already know how much I adore hummus (check out can vegans enjoy hummus and how to store hummus for further proof!). It’s very rare that a week will go by without me tucking into a big ol’ bowl of the stuff, so I’ve always got a jar or two of tahini lurking around the kitchen.
I’m usually pretty good with keeping track of what’s been opened and using stuff up before it has a chance to turn funky. However, the other day I came across some tahini in the fridge that had gotten tucked behind something else.
I’ve no idea how long it’d been there, and that got me thinking, “Can tahini go bad?” I figured it could, but I didn’t know for absolute certain, so I started digging around.
Here’s what I found out!
Does tahini paste go bad?
As with the majority of foodstuffs, the shelf life of tahini varies. For example, if you’ve bought your tahini paste from a store there’s a fair chance that it’ll contain some kind of preservative. Homemade tahini, on the other hand, will largely be free from such stabilizers.
Store-bought tahini will have both an expiration date and a recommended timeframe in which you should eat the paste once the jar has been opened. These vary radically too.
How long does tahini last? Some brands will give a best before date of two years in the future, others can be as short as six months. Same applies for the length of time from cracking the seal. One will say you must consume within four weeks, another brand may recommend far longer.
While these guidelines are handy, they don’t really answer the question of whether or not it will actually go bad. I’ve heard stories of people eating tahini five years after it was first opened! Obviously, I’m not recommending such lunacy, but still.
So, does tahini expire? After doing some research, I’m inclined to say yes, but the length of time you have until it does will vary.
What makes tahini susceptible to going off is the oil that comes from the ground sesame seeds. When you open a jar, you’ll notice that a degree of separation has occurred. At the bottom you’ll have the paste, at the top will be the oil.
Despite the fact the oil protects the paste, natural oils can become oxidized and go rancid over time. How do you know if your tahini has gone off? Good question! (1)
How to tell if tahini has gone bad
So, if there are no hard and fast rules on how long does tahini last, it’s a good idea to know how to tell if your paste has gone bad or not. Thankfully, it isn’t all that difficult to work out. All you need are your senses: sight, smell, and taste.
When you open a jar of tahini, give it a once over visually. Any obvious signs of mold (especially around the rim of the jar) are obviously a fair indication your jar needs to hit the trash.
If all seems well, raise the jar to your nose and give it a good sniffing. Rancid oil has a very distinctive smell and will probably have you recoiling, which will tell you that the next step isn’t necessary. (2)
Should your sense of smell tell you to proceed, try tasting a tiny amount. Again, if something is awry you’ll know about it.
Finally, if you really are concerned about anything and have a gut feeling about your tahini’s quality, bin it. While it’s not the cheapest ingredient in the world and we really shouldn’t be wasting food, sometimes you just have to chuck stuff out and head for the store.
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How to store tahini
The key to extending your tahini’s lifespan is to store it correctly. Luckily, there’s not a lot to it.
Store-bought tahini will have instructions on the side of the jar for you to follow. Tahini storage instructions will vary from brand to brand, so it’s best to read each one when you buy a jar you’re not familiar with.
Does tahini need to be refrigerated? Not necessarily, but I always feel more comfortable with keeping anything oily in the fridge. Again, follow your particular brands instructions. For homemade tahini, I’d always put the paste in the fridge.
One thing to bear in mind when you refrigerate tahini is that it can be a hell of a job to mix once the oil and paste have separated. Allowing it to return to room temperature before use will help, so try and remember to get it out an hour or so before you need to use it.
If you forget, a quick whizz in a mini food processor will do the trick.
About The Author:
Lisa Williams is a committed vegan, passionate animal welfare advocate, and keen follower of too many v-friendly food blogs to mention. She started happyhappyvegan.com back in 2016 because she felt there was a need for more straightforward information on plant-based living.
Back then, too many sites seem to either concentrate solely on recipes or be too intimidating or inaccessible for the v-curious, and she wanted to change that. The landscape is certainly a whole lot different now!
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- Judy Thalheimer, RD, LDN | Oxidized oils in food may be harmful to health | https://eu.detroitnews.com/story/life/food/2015/01/20/oxidized-oils-food-may-harmful-health/21773393/
- Claire Lower | What to Smell for to Check if Your Oil Is Rancid | https://lifehacker.com/what-to-smell-for-to-check-if-your-oil-is-rancid-1762405833
26 thoughts on “Does Tahini Go Bad? How To Store Tahini And Extend Its Shelf Life”
Holy crap dude, write to the point please I’m not reading rocket science.
Haha! I really liked the long and detailed explanation. I found it to be quite helpful. I’m mixing my tahini well first, storing it in the frig but keeping a small jar out for quick use.
Hey Wendy, thanks for commenting! The small jar is definitely a good idea if you don’t want to mess around with a solid lump of ground sesame seed paste…I can never get over just how gooey that stuff gets when chilled!
Waaay too long of an explanation, like this is not the realm to do that
Sorry you didn’t like the post, Chris. Hope it doesn’t put you off of visiting Happy Happy Vegan again in the future.
Frankly, I appreciate the detail and enjoyed reading it. Different strokes, I guess. Thanks, Lisa.
Yep, we’re all different, Angie. Pleased to hear you enjoyed reading it.
I really appreciated the detail. Tahini is an ingredient I don’t use very often, so it may sit in my fridge for a bit.
Thanks for the wonderful explanation! I have a – goodness knows how old jar of tahini – and was wondering if I should toss it out or use it. You did the digging for me and did an article! THANKS!!!!
That’s what we’re here for, Florence! Glad you liked it.
Hi, I have a can of Joyva Sesame Tahini and cannot find an expiration date anywhere. The only thing that it has is a 4 digit code on the lid. That code is 2289, which means nothing to me. How do I know if it is still good???? Do you know?
I totally appreciate your in-depth description! Hard to believe people would give you a hard time about it. If they don’t learn to put some gratitude in their attitude, they are in for a very unsatisfied life.
Glad you liked it, Terre, and thank you!
What a terrific article and VERY informative. I’ve never used tahini before and just opened the jar. Wish I had known about using the food processor to mix it together before 30 minutes of effort. My jar had no instructions about what to do after it was open so your information was very helpful.
Glad you enjoyed the article, Helene!
I thought this was an excellent article, and I appreciated the in-depth explanation. It took like about three minutes to read for God sake it’s not like you’re reading War and Peace or something!
Thanks Jean. Glad you like it!
What kind of maniac complains about length on a post like this??
I just finished a small mason jar sized batch of tahini that I made probably 2 years ago. It did not look like yours though. I just toasted the seeds then put them in a Breville Boss blender and it looked like nut butter, but dry. Was super tasty….
Thanks Rob, glad you lived to tell the tale!!
Don’t know what those others were talking about – I liked the lengthy explanation. It helped me determine whether my canned Tahini was still good after 2-3 years (!). I’ve had an opened but sealed can in the fridge, and when I went to use it I followed your advice and used my sight-smell-taste and amazingly it was still good! Thanks! Now on to making some tasty hummus…
Thanks Tony! Glad you enjoyed the post ?
Hope the hummus turned out well. If you end up wondering how long you can keep that, we’ve got you covered ? – How Long Does Hummus Last?
I too enjoyed the post. Had no idea about expiration of tahini paste. Did the taste and smell test. I guess you can’t pease everyone.
Thanks Patti. Glad it was helpful.
Help!! My unopened Tahini was on shelf for several years. I just opened it and it separated, with the solid part very firmly in the bottom of the jar. Any suggestions? No unsightly mold or smells, but I need it to blend back into the condition it should be in!
I am eating four year old tahini as it was fine, no mold, oil covered the paste, smell and taste were good. I imagine I put it in the frig and it was only opened once for use. Nothing rancid or off color, nothing growing inside the jar, even the stuff above the oil line. Is it possible to explain this.
Finally ready to use the Joyva Tahini paste bought who knows when, on Molly Yeh’s Magic Beans (lucky the beans were still good after a full week in the fridge). No expiration date on the can. Have never seen tahini before, was not prepared to find it separated, considered getting the immersion blender out but did not want to have to clean that twice so patiently sat down with the can and a spoon and incorporated the oil. Quite the job but accomplished eventually. Read these posts middle of the night when worry about proper storage of tahini woke me. I have one more recipe to try, if the canned chickpeas are still good. ; )
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