Do Sesame Seeds Go Bad?

Do sesame seeds go bad? Sesame seeds add a sweet, nutty flavor and aroma to everyday dishes. Available in white and black varieties, sesame seeds are a staple in Asian cooking. Between the two varieties, black sesame seeds lend a stronger, richer aroma while white sesame seeds add a mild, delicate flavor to stir-fry’s, stews, and fried dishes.

Sesame seeds paste
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

When it comes to sesame seeds’ shelf life, they could turn rancid due to the seeds’ high oil content. Generally, sesame seeds are sold in bulk so leftovers are inevitable. As long as the sesame seeds are packed and stored properly, they should keep for months. Still, if you can purchase sesame seeds in the smallest bags, do so to avoid leftovers.

How to Store Sesame Seeds?

Storing Sesame Seeds in the Pantry

Sealed or unopened bags of raw sesame seeds are best stored in the pantry. Sesame seeds are incredibly shelf stable so they will keep for weeks, even months, at room temperature. It helps if the container is kept unopened to extend the seeds’ shelf life. Always store the sesame seeds in a cool, dry, and dark place, away from direct sunlight.

Exposure to heat and/or light could cause the oils within the seeds to turn bad, which will shorten the shelf life of the sesame seeds. The darker the storage spot, the better it is for the sesame seeds. You can store opened bags of sesame seeds in the pantry but these are best stored in the fridge. If you must, transfer the opened bags of sesame seeds in a glass container with an airtight, tightly sealed lid.

Storing Sesame Seeds in the Refrigerator

This method is perfect for storing unopened and open bags of sesame seeds, raw and toasted alike. For unopened bags of sesame seeds, there is no need to transfer these in another packaging. For opened bags of sesame seeds, make sure the opening of the bag is kept sealed so the seeds won’t pour out. Leaky packaging may also shorten the shelf life of the sesame seeds.

Storing Sesame Seeds in the Freezer

You may store bags of sesame seeds in the freezer in case you have no plans of using up your supply right away. This method will stretch the shelf life of the sesame seeds, allowing the product to stay fresh for years! Of course, it’s best to use up your supply right away for optimal quality.

There is no need to pack the sesame seeds in a different container if the bag is unopened. But for opened bags of sesame seeds, put this in a resealable plastic bag then seal. You could also use a freezer-safe container with an airtight lid to protect the sesame seeds from frost.

Seeds on a spoon
Image used under Creative Commons from Marco Verch

Shelf Life of Sesame Seeds

Even when stored at room temperature, sesame seeds have a long shelf life. When kept in the pantry, raw sesame seeds will keep for a year while roasted sesame seeds will keep for 2 to 3 years in the pantry. In the fridge, raw sesame seeds will keep for a year while roasted sesame seeds will keep for 3 years or so. In the freezer, both raw and roasted sesame seeds will keep indefinitely.

How to Tell If Sesame Seeds Have Gone Bad?

When raw, sesame seeds have a mild, nutty aroma. When toasted, the nutty aroma intensifies. But when the sesame seeds have gone bad, the nuttiness will be replaced by a sour or rancid aroma. The nasty aroma is due to the breakdown of the sesame seed oil. When it comes to changes in appearance, it is really hard to tell if sesame seeds have gone bad at a glance. You have to smell it or taste it to determine whether or not the seeds are still safe to use.

Summary

Do sesame seeds go bad? Sesame seeds are so shelf stable, they will keep for years in storage. Still, nothing last forever, not even sesame seeds. But as long as you stored the seeds properly, you’ll be able to maximize your supply!