So you have a half open jar of tahini in the fridge or pantry. It’s been there quite a while. You have all the ingredients to make homemade hummus and you’ve noticed that the tahini is past the date on the label. Does the tahini go bad?
You really need that hummus for the party tonight, but at the same time you don’t want anyone to get sick.
If you’re not sure if you can use your leftover tahini, read on to learn more about the expiration, storage, and spoilage of this sesame seed paste.
Does tahini have to be refrigerated?
Both unopened and opened tahini keep well, which means you don’t have to refrigerate it even after opening the jar. That being said, refrigeration helps preserve quality for a bit longer. Otherwise, store the tahini in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
Although some people suggest that opened tahini be refrigerated, it’s okay to store it in the kitchen cabinet, just like you would with peanut butter. In short, chilling sesame seed paste in the fridge after opening it maximizes its quality and shelf life. However, if you plan to use the entire jar in a couple of months, refrigerating isn’t really necessary.
That being said, read the product label for information on its storage. Some manufacturers insist on keeping the tahini in the refrigerator after opening. And if so, you must obey.
Keep in mind that storing the pasta in the fridge makes it thicker and often more like ice cream in consistency. That doesn’t help to use the paste, but you can’t help it.
You can fix the texture of the paste by mixing it with a little water or sesame seed oil. Pour in as much tahini as you need, add a teaspoon of water or oil, and mix with an immersion blender. Do not add the oil or water to the jar unless you plan to use the rest of the tahini at that time.
|Do you have a bottle of “expired” sesame oil and aren’t sure if you can still use it? Read my article that answers the question “is sesame oil bad?”.|
Lastly, keep the half open tahini jar tightly closed when not in use.
Since tahini is basically a butter made from sesame seeds, it has some similarities to nut butters, such as peanut butter.
One of the similarities is that tahini, especially one without additional ingredients, tends to separate over time. It may appear as a creamy paste, but after a while it will separate. The oil will remain at the top, while all the solids will remain at the bottom. It’s a perfectly natural process, and such tahini is safe to eat.
Fortunately, you can easily fix separate tahini. Again, a hand blender or a food processor will be of great help. A few minutes of mixing and the paste will recover its creamy consistency. Of course, you can always stir it with a fork or whisk, but that will take a lot longer.
How long does tahini last?
Tahini comes with an expiration date of 1-2 years from the date the tahini is packaged, and typically keeps for at least a few months afterward. Once opened, it will keep until the printed date or for at least 5-6 months. In addition, refrigeration helps to better preserve its quality.
As tahini paste is made mostly of sesame seed oils, it has a fairly long shelf life and it’s hard to tell exactly how long it will last.
Like nut butters, tahini’s quality degrades over time. Therefore, you will most likely decide to throw it away for quality reasons, not because it is unsafe to eat.
Tahini jars often come with an expiration date. This date informs us of the time that the product must maintain its freshness. Of course, that date is a rough estimate and the tahini can easily last a few more months. But, as we have already said, it is impossible to say exactly how long.
Also, some manufacturers add stabilizers and preservatives to the pasta, which makes it retain its quality even longer. In short, if you’ve gone for organic tahini, it won’t last as long as one with a few extra ingredients.
Once you open the jar, the quality degradation process speeds up a bit. That means you should ideally finish the jar in a few months. But the paste should keep well for at least a couple of months or until the printed date, whichever is later.
tahini shelf life
|Tahini (unopened)||Consume preferably before + 6 months|
|Tahini (open)||5 to 6 months or expiration date||Expiration date + 6 months|
Please note that the periods indicated are rough estimates and refer only to the best quality.
How do you know if the tahini is bad?
Tahini is made up primarily of sesame seed oils. This environment makes it quite difficult for most bacteria and fungi to grow. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that you will find mold or any type of growth on the surface of the tahini. Of course, if you find something fishy in the jar, you should throw out the flavor.
Tahini, like other high-fat items, can go rancid. Rancidity is a type of spoilage that is for the most part harmless as far as food safety is concerned, so there is little to no health risk from eating rancid tahini.
However, rancidity also affects the taste and smell of the oil. For this reason, most people choose to discard rancid oils, since foods made with them tend to taste bad.
The most important factors when it comes to going rancid are time and access to oxygen, but access to light and high temperatures also play a role. So if you open a jar of tahini and it smells musty, you should probably throw it away.
If the sesame seed paste looks and smells good, give it a try. If it tastes rancid or weird, throw it out, too.
Otherwise, it’s most likely perfectly fine to use in your hummus, even if it’s been a couple of months since the label date.