Tahini has become increasingly popular in the western world as well as in the areas where it originated, with more people choosing to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet. The sesame-based paste is rich in protein, fiber, and a number of vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, A, and E.
The problem which many people have is that tahini is sold in larger jars than you will need for preparing one batch of hummus or for another meal. So, inevitably the questions of how to store tahini properly, does it go bad and does tahini need to be refrigerated arise.
The different types of tahini
Tahini comes in two main types. One is hulled tahini which is made of sesame seeds with their outer shells removed, and unhulled tahini, which is made of whole sesame seeds and is a tad more bitter than hulled tahini.
While hulled tahini is creamier than the unhulled type, the latter contains more healthy nutrients and fibers than the former.
How to store tahini properly
You can keep a jar of unopened tahini in a cabinet, pantry, or any other cool place without direct sunlight.
Once you open it, it is safe to keep storing the tahini outside of the fridge if its lid is tightly sealed and if you are planning on using it all within the next few weeks.
If you are planning on longer-term storage, then it is best to store it in the refrigerator.
Keep in mind that tahini can become thicker and get an ice cream-like texture when stored in the fridge, but this can easily be avoided.
To restore the wonderful texture of the tahini after keeping it in the refrigerator, you can blend it with very little water or with some sesame seed oil. Add as much tahini as you need in a bowl, and add the water or sesame seed oil, and use an immersion blender to blend it back into a nice and smooth paste.
Do not add the oil or water directly into the entire jar of tahini unless you plan to use it all up immediately.
Plus, like other similar oil-based pastes, tahini can separate after prolonged storage. While the paste usually comes with a nice and creamy structure, if left in storage for a long time, it can gradually split, with the solids left sunken in the bottom and oil on top of the jar. But do not worry because this is completely normal, and the tahini is safe to eat even if it separates.
To restore the texture of the tahini, which has separated, you can blend it back into a smooth paste with a food processor, an immersion blender, or with a whisk or fork.
To make sure that your tahini is safe to eat, always check the best before date on its label before using it to prepare hummus or another delicious meal.
How long will the stored tahini last
Because the main ingredients in tahini are sesame seed oils, the paste has a long shelf life. But it is difficult to determine its exact durability.
Like most other seed and nut-based kinds of butter, tahini paste will deteriorate in quality, and its texture will change over time. So, it is more likely that it will lose its quality rather than turn bad or become unsafe to eat.
As with all other products, you should check the best before date on your tahini jar label to get an idea of how long you can store it. Keep in mind that it is very likely that tahini will retain its quality and be safe to eat even months after its “best before” date passes.
If there are added preservatives and stabilizers in the tahini, then its shelf life will be even longer than usual. As for organic tahini, which does not contain such additives, you should adhere to the best before date because it is less likely to last longer.
As soon as the jar is opened, the quality of the tahini will start degrading, so it is recommended that you use up the content in the next several months.
Here is the estimated shelf life of tahini:
- Unopened tahini – up to 6 months after the best before date
- Opened tahini – up to 2 months in the pantry and up to 6 months in the refrigerator
How to tell when the tahini has gone bad
Thanks to the fact that tahini is made of sesame seed oils, the risk of fungi and bacteria development is minimal. So, you should not expect to see suspicious growths in your tahini jar. If you do notice something wrong with the jar and the texture of the paste, then you should throw it out.
The good news is that even if the tahini has gone bad, there are hardly any risks for your health and wellbeing if you accidentally eat it. At the same time, the taste, smell, and texture of tahini may become unpleasant over time, which is another reason to throw away that old jar sitting in the pantry or fridge.
The oils in the tahini can become rancid and unpleasant to eat due to oxygen, light, and high temperatures affecting it.
To be certain whether the tahini is still good to eat, try tasting it before using it for food prep. If you do not detect a rancid smell or taste, and if the texture seems fine, then it is probably safe to make some delicious homemade hummus with it.