This rich, creamy, nutty sludge can enhance the taste of stews, soups and baked items. The famous tahini makes for a great sauce as well as snack.
The best thing is that you can easily prepare it at home if you do not want a store-bought product. Just take a handful of sesame seeds, some olive oil and a pinch of salt. You can use hulled and roasted seeds. Crush them and grind them with the other ingredients until it gets a paste-like form.
But does tahini go bad? We have provided all the necessary information you need regarding its storage and life.
What Is Tahini Anyway?
Tahini is a paste produced from grounded and toasted sesame seeds. The seeds are blanched and crushed to separate the bran from the kernel.
They are then soaked in salty water where the bran sinks and the floating seeds are collected, which are toasted and grounded to make a thick, oily paste.
It is associated with Middle Eastern cooking. It is a major condiment for halva, hummus and baba ghanoush.
It is also used as salad dressing, sandwich spread, dipping sauce (like guacamole, hummus, ...) or drizzled on baked goods such as cakes, brownies and cookies. You can even add it in meat, vegan and pasta dishes.
It is healthy as The Guardian states that tahini paste has more proteins than most nuts.
It is rich in vitamin B (which provides energy and boosts brain activity) and vitamin E (which prevents heart diseases and strokes). It also contains important minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron.
Most people prefer the paler version of tahini made from skinned sesame seeds. The darker and unprocessed version with no additional ingredients is referred to as raw tahini. It has a slightly bitter and stronger taste but is healthier.
How Long Does Tahini Last? Does Tahini Go Bad?
Tahini tends to separate after some time, especially with no added ingredients and stabilizers. You might buy it in a creamy state, but over time, the oil will come to the surface and the solids will sit at the bottom. It is a natural occurrence, so no need to be alarmed. Just give a good stir beforehand.
Tahini has a long shelf life, so it is hard to tell how long it will last. However, it won’t have the same quality as before and you are likely to discard it, although it will still be safe to consume.
It usually comes with a Best By date, which is a rough estimation for how long the paste would remain fresh. If stored properly, it can last you for months after the Best By date.
The processed product has preservatives and stabilizers to ensure it lives longer, while organic tahini will have a comparatively shorter lifespan.
Some manufacturers will give a date of 2 years, while others will limit it to 6 months. The same goes for the period it will stay fresh for after you crack the seal open.
Some brands will recommend finishing it in 4 weeks, while others could say much longer.
Generally, an unopened bottle will last up to 4-6 months in the pantry and 6 months to 1 year in the fridge.
However, once you open it, the degradation process will accelerate because tahini is sensitive to temperature changes. Thus, an opened bottle is likely to stay good for 2 months in the pantry and 6 months in the fridge.
For homemade tahini, it is necessary to keep it cold as it contains no preservatives, so the mixture can go south very quickly. It has a shorter storage life, so you should only keep the product for about 5-7 months in the refrigerator.
How to Tell If Tahini Is Bad?
Like all food items, tahini can go bad. As we mentioned earlier, not storing it properly can spoil it. Heat and humidity play a key role here. If you put it near heat, it will quickly become unusable.
Hygiene also contributes. Handling it with unwashed hands and utensils and keeping it in an unclean and loose container will spoil the paste quickly.
The mixture has lots of oil, so bacteria and mold growth will be difficult (source), but if the storage conditions are unfavorable, your paste will go bad. If the oil begins to break down and you see anything suspicious, it is better to discard it and get a new batch.
But how will you know the signs? Bad tahini is hard to miss. Use your sense of sight, smell and taste.
Rancid odor emitting from the tahini should be your first clue, and its taste will be awful. Although it will still be safe to eat, you shouldn’t.
Furthermore, if it is really unstable, there will be mold present and you can see greenish-blue spots all over. No matter what the brand says, if the tahini has gone rancid, throw it out.
How to Store Tahini Properly?
Tahini paste can be used in different ways. Just a spoonful combined with lemon juice, water and a dash of garlic can add flavor to any meal.
Therefore, it is found in many kitchens in large quantities. Most people believe that it won’t go bad for a long period of time, but let us tell you that it will. Hence, you should store it properly to prevent it from going bad.
It should be kept in a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight and heat sources like the stove or oven. Kitchen cabinets and pantry are the best places to store an unopened bottle.
As for an opened bottle, you should refrigerate it. Always close the lid tightly after using. We suggest you keep it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life. Chilling it after opening increases its quality, but if you plan to use it within a few weeks, refrigeration isn’t needed.
Keep in mind that tahini stored in fridge takes on a hard, ice-cream-like texture, making it difficult to use. According to The Kitchn, this can be avoided by taking it out of the fridge at least 15 minutes before using it. If it is still hard, scoop out as required and blend with a little bit of water or oil.
Some brands don’t want their products to be stored in refrigerator, while others do.
For instance, Artisana and Arrowhead Mills suggest refrigeration to prolong the shelf life, whereas Ziyad recommends storing in a cool, dry place. We suggest you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.