tahini

Tahini Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

If you enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine, chances are you have a jar of tahini in the kitchen. Whether to make classic hummus recipe or to serve with falafel wrap, tahini is an ingredient that you can’t skip when preparing Middle Eastern dishes.

The recipes often call for only a small amount of tahini paste and you might end up with a half-full jar of tahini to store. One day you find a jar that has passed the date on the label. Is it still okay to use it for making hummus? Does tahini go bad? How long should tahini be stored after opening?

Does the situation above sound familiar to you? If yes, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we talk about tahini shelf life and address the most common questions around it. Let’s read on!

What is Tahini?

Tahini is a thick paste made from sesame seeds as the main ingredient, usually added with vegetable oil and salt. It has a creamy, nutty flavor and is a notable part of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.

Store-bought tahini is usually made from hulled (peeled) or unhulled sesame seeds, and raw or toasted seeds. If you prefer a certain method of preparation, you may need to check the ingredients list.

Tahini is known as the main ingredient for making hummus (besides the chickpeas, of course). This paste is also used for making many other dishes and desserts such as baba ghanoush and halva, as well as for condiments for falafel wrap, fresh and roasted vegetables, and the list goes on.

Sesame oil, as the main ingredient of tahini, is a good source of plant protein, rich in fiber, and some other minerals and vitamins. Hence, tahini is preferred by many vegetarians and vegan to supplement their nutrients intake.

Tahini is simple and easy to make and is also widely available in the supermarket.

Now, where do you find tahini in the supermarket? Tahini is usually placed on an unrefrigerated shelf, next to other condiments and sauces, or at the ethnic food aisle.

How to Store Tahini

One common question about storing tahini is, does tahini need to be refrigerated? The short answer is: it depends.

If you have homemade tahini, it is recommended to store it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge to extend the shelf life.

If you have an unopened jar of tahini, it is safe to keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place away from sources of heat and sunlight. Just like other packaged food, your kitchen pantry or cabinet is an ideal place.

Tahini producers may have different instructions regarding storing methods after opening. Some manufacturers suggest keeping tahini in the fridge, while some others strongly recommend to keep it in the pantry.

This different manner has to do with the fact that tahini is rich in oil content and thus, tends to harden when refrigerated and may affect the consistency and flavor. Our best advice is to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

After opening, always remember to tightly close the lid when not in use and always use clean utensils when scooping the product.

How Long Does Tahini Last?

The shelf life of an unopened store-bought tahini may vary quite radically. Some manufacturers may use preservatives and stabilizers, while some don’t. Hence, some brands last for 6 months, while others may last up to 2 years.  

Be sure to check the “best before date” printed on the label as guidance. This date is an estimated period from the producer that products should retain their peak quality.

If you ask, is tahini still fine to consume after passing the date? Yes, it is, subject to proper storage. Tahini may stay good for the next 6-12 months after passing the date. However, it is also possible that tahini will go bad before the date if not stored properly or if the container is damaged.

After opening, tahini can be stored either in the pantry or in the fridge. Storing in the fridge will extend the shelf life and prevent the oil from going rancid more quickly. When stored in the fridge, it is suggested to consume within 3 – 4 weeks to still enjoy the best quality.

Homemade tahini should be good to keep for 2 – 4 weeks in the fridge.

How to Tell if Tahini is Bad

Tahini contains a good amount of oil from sesame oil and vegetable oil (if used). Just like any other oil-containing food, tahini tends to go rancid after some time.

How fast food goes rancid is influenced by exposure to air, light, and heat. For example, tahini made from roasted sesame seeds tends to be rancid more quickly due to the exposure to heat, compared to one made from raw seeds.

Rancidity is one sign you need to check to tell if tahini has gone bad.  How can you tell if tahini has gone rancid? Sniff the product. If you smell an unpleasant odor, some people say like crayons or soapy aroma, that’s a telltale sign that tahini is rancid.

It is no better suggestion other than discarding rancid tahini. It won’t taste great and may ruin your dishes.


FAQs

Why is my tahini separated?

By now we have known that tahini is high in oil content. After some time the oil part of tahini may separate on top of the paste. This is completely normal and also happens in other typical products, such as peanut butter or Nutella.

To fix this problem, give it a good stir to get the consistency back or put tahini into a food processor and mix well. As simple as that.

Can you eat tahini that has passed the best before date?

It is possible that after the date, tahini will stay good. But, you may need to check if it is rancid or not. If tahini is not rancid or other signs or spoilage is not found, feel free to use it. Otherwise, better to toss it and get a new jar!

Can you freeze tahini?

Yes. But, you may expect a change in consistency and flavor.

Conclusion

Tahini is a staple ingredient for Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. After some time, tahini can go bad, but proper storage can help maintain the quality and maximize the shelf life of tahini.

Rancidity is the main issue with bad tahini. If your tahini is rancid or there are any signs of spoilage, it is better to discard it.

tahini shelf life

*Photo by luknaja/depositphotos

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