Does Hummus Go Bad?

Like with any other dip or sauce, the size of a container of hummus never meets your needs, right? It’s either too small, in which case you need to buy multiple containers, or too big, which means you won’t use all of it in a single dish. In both cases, there will be leftovers. And after a few days in the fridge, the dreaded question comes up: does hummus go bad? And how long can it last in the refrigerator before it spoils? If you’re not a big-time hummus fan who easts every container of hummus you can get your hand on right away, it makes sense to know some basics regarding storage, shelf life and going bad of hummus. In this article, we cover those basics.

Hummus and chicory
Image used under Creative Commons from Lablascovegmenu

How To Store Hummus

When it comes to storage, hummus is very similar to pesto. That means there are two types of hummus available on the market: sold refrigerated and sold unrefrigerated.

If you have never seen a container of hummus sold unrefrigerated, let me inform you there’s a brand called Hummustir that sells one. The trick they use is that ingredients that make hummus, like tahini, have a pretty long shelf life on their own. So instead of selling the ready-to-eat hummus, they sell it separated into tahini and the chickpea purée, and you simply stir it before eating. Plus sometimes you can find canned hummus, which also is sold unrefrigerated. So, if your hummus wasn’t in the refrigerated section, you can keep it at room temperature as long as it stays unopened. Make sure it’s away from sunlight and sources of heat. Once you open the container, transfer the leftovers into the fridge and make sure they’re sealed tightly. If that’s not possible, pour the sauce into an airtight container before refrigerating.

When it comes to the much more popular variety of hummus, the one sold refrigerated, you should always keep it in the fridge. After opening, remember to seal it tightly. Again, if that’s not an option with the original packaging, pour the dip into a resealable container.

Homemade hummus belongs to the fridge too. Of course, it would be ideal if you would whip up a new batch of fresh hummus every time you need it. But let’s be honest, that’s probably not going to happen. So if you prepare a bigger batch for the next few days, make sure it sits in the fridge tightly sealed.

Last but not least, food hygiene. I know that most containers of hummus are super convenient if you want to use hummus for dipping. But if you don’t plan on finishing the entire package in one sitting, pour a few tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl and use it instead. This way you avoid contaminating the hummus with various bacteria from your food and prevent it from spoiling in a day or two. For the same reasons, you should always use clean utensils when using hummus as a bread spread.

Can You Freeze Hummus?

If you would like to store hummus for an extended period, freezing it is an option. Hummus changes the texture slightly after freezing and thawing. However, once defrosted, you can usually stir it up to its normal consistency. Please note that different brands of hummus freeze differently, so it makes sense to test if your favorite brand freezes well before freezing a bigger batch. When it comes to what method you should use to freeze hummus, freezing in an ice cube tray is a great choice.

How Long Does Hummus Last

Again, let’s go through all varieties available on the market. First, the commercial unrefrigerated one. It usually comes with a best-by date on the label. And like always with the best-by date, the product should last longer. In this particular case, the hummus should stay fresh for at least a month past that date, maybe more. Once you open the package, you should finish the sauce in 4 to 7 days. If your hummus doesn’t contain any preservatives, stick with the 4 days period. If there are added preservatives, it should last for up to 7 days.

When it comes to the commercially packaged refrigerated hummus, it usually comes with a use-by date. The sauce should last a few days past that date, but nothing crazy. Once you open the package, the same 4 to 7 days period applies as mentioned above.

Homemade hummus usually doesn’t contain any preservatives, so you should expect it to last in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days.

Pantry Fridge
Hummus (sold unrefrigerated, unopened) Best by + 1 – 3 months
Hummus (sold unrefrigerated, opened) 4 – 7 days
Hummus (sold refrigerated, unopened) Use by + 3 – 7 days
Hummus (sold refrigerated, opened) 4 – 7 days
Hummus (homemade) 4 – 5 days

When it comes to opened hummus, it will quite often last a few days longer than the estimates above, but that’s not a given. Please note that all periods above are rough estimates.

How To Tell If Hummus Is Bad

There are a few signs that might suggest your hummus has gone bad. The first and most popular one is mold or any other growth on the surface of the sauce. If you notice any of these, discard the product. Same thing if the smell is off or funny. Minor changes in texture, like some oil separation, are quite normal and you can fix this with a quick stir. That’s the same thing that happens to mustard or peanut butter. However, if the oil seems completely separated and the texture altered significantly, throw the dip away. It might be safe to eat, but it’s better to stay on the safe side. If it looks, smells, and tastes okay, the hummus should be OK to eat.

Last but not least, please remember that hummus goes bad quickly once you open the package. That means if your half-open container of Sabra hummus sits in the fridge for 10 days or longer, it’s time to discard it. Even if it seems to be okay and tastes as it should. As usual, it’s better to be safe than sorry.