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 eat 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!
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.
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.