Tahini is a favorite ingredient of many and a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine. Many people have likely consumed tahini without even realizing it. One of the most common foods you’ll find tahini is in hummus along with other dips, veggie bowls, desserts, and so much more!
I almost always have an open jar of tahini on hand. But if you’re like me, life happens, time passes, and I’m left wondering: How long does tahini last? Does tahini go bad? And what is the best way to store tahini? I’ll answer these questions for you below.
What is Tahini?
Tahini is a thick, creamy paste made from ground sesame seeds, blended to make a tahini paste or sesame seed paste. Some tahini recipes also call for adding oil such as olive oil, vegetable oil, or sesame oil for creamy consistency or flavor.
Tahini has a mild, nutty flavor, and slightly bitter taste. It tastes much like its main ingredient, sesame seeds. The flavor of tahini can vary based on if the seeds have been hulled, sprouted, or toasted and if any additional ingredients have been added, and what type of oil or oils are used. The consistency of tahini is similar to peanut butter or sunflower seed butter.
Tahini is a common ingredient in hummus, along with chickpeas. It is also sold separately as it is an ingredient for many other Middle Eastern dishes such as baba ghanoush, desserts and can be used as a dip.
How Long Does Tahini Last?
The short answer is, in general, an unopened jar of tahini can last 2 plus years from the manufacturing date or 6-12 months past the best-by date. An opened tahini jar can last up to 12 months when stored properly. However, the shelf-life of tahini can vary based on the ingredients and storage conditions, which will be discussed below.
Store Bought Tahini
Many variables contribute to tahini’s longevity. Let’s dive in to understand in more depth how long your store-bought tahini will last.
Sesame paste, the primary (or only) ingredient in tahini, has similar chemical composition and properties to nut butter, which tends to have a respectable long shelf life. While tahini’s shelf life has the potential to be lengthy, it is not indefinite. The shelf life largely depends on its ingredients as well as storage conditions.
As with most products, tahini’s quality will degrade over time, albeit rather slowly. Store-bought tahini will have a “best if used by” or “expiration date” on the container. This date is typically set from the time that the Tahini container is filled and sealed. However, at best, it is a rough estimate of when the quality of that particular type of tahini paste may begin to degrade.
The natural oils in tahini help to act as a preservative. Other types of oils used and any additional ingredients or preservatives will contribute to how long the tahini lasts. The type of tahini seeds used also impacts its shelf-life. Tahini made with raw seeds typically lasts longer than tahini made from roasted sesame seeds.
One sign that tahini is beginning to degrade in quality is that the texture of the tahini begins to harden, becoming thicker and stiffer. This may make it taste less enjoyable.
In general, store-bought unopened tahini can last 2 plus years from the manufacturing date or 6-12 months past the best-by date. Opened tahini can last up to 12 months when stored properly. But like with any food item, you’ll want to examine the smell and texture to decide if it is still good to eat.
Homemade and Organic Tahini
When it comes to the longevity of homemade Tahini, it will likely have a shorter shelf-life. As homemade or organic tahini is made without additional preservatives.
Homemade tahini is inexpensive and easy to make. And can result in a fresh, more organic product ensuring that you get the best quality ingredients without added preservatives, sugars, or fillers.
Homemade tahini can last up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
Does Tahini Expire?
Yes, tahini does expire. The “expiry date” or “best by” date on store-bought tahini labels is just an estimation of how long the product is expected to last from manufacturing time to the end of what most would generally regard as the time when its optimum quality will pass.
If stored properly, Tahini can be consumed for between 6 to 12 months after the “best by” date passes. However, tahini may degrade more quickly if not stored properly, especially once the jar has been opened.
How To Store Tahini
The best way to store tahini is in an airtight, glass jar or container. Placed in a dark, dry place, away from heat sources such as a kitchen cabinet or pantry.
Like other nut butters, tahini can be stored in a cabinet or the fridge, depending on what you prefer. Storing tahini in the fridge will create a thicker consistency yet may help extend shelf life. If your jar of tahini is labeled with a preferred storage method, it’s best to follow the manufactures label.
When scooping tahini out of the glass jar, always use a clean, dry spoon. If a spoon were to be wet or have any other ingredients or bacteria on it, it could cause the tahini to go rancid or degrade more quickly.
If you desire a thinner consistency of tahini, add water to the amount of tahini you are going to use in a separate dish rather than thinning out the whole jar.
Tahini can be sensitive to temperature changes. Sunlight and high temperatures will exponentially speed up the degradation of the quality of tahini, which is why it is recommended to store tahini in a dark place away from heat sources.
It’s also best to pick one consistent temperature to store your tahini at, either in the fridge or at room temperature. If you live in a warm climate or during summer, you may choose to store tahini in the fridge to avoid air temperature fluctuations.
Freezing tahini in an airtight container is also an option but may change consistency and/or flavor.
Does Tahini Go Bad?
Yes, tahini can and will go bad over time. The shelf life of tahini depends on whether it is made with preservatives or not and storage conditions.
When tahini goes bad, it is most commonly because it has gone rancid. Rancid tahini has an unpleasant rancid odor and won’t taste good.
How To Tell if Tahini Has Gone Bad?
When tahini has gone bad, the most tell-tale sign is it will have an unpleasant, rancid smell. Some may describe it as having a soapy aroma or a smell like playdough or a crayon. Rancid tahini is the most common way for tahini to go bad.
While the smell is the most common sign, that tahini has gone bad. Another way, but less common, is for tahini to grow mold and become discolored. This may happen when the tahini has been compromised by dirty spoons, water, or additional ingredients.
When in doubt, whether by smell, taste, or sight, always throw it out. If you have sesame seeds, you can quickly make a new batch using a food processor.
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Karla Kueber is a Certified Evidence Based EFT Practioner and Health Coach, with a double Masters Degree in Education. She works with people to overcome emotional eating, curb cravings, and overcome resistance to eating new healthy foods. You can learn more about coaching with her here.