Does Ghee Go Bad?

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that’s popular in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking. This product is often used as cooking oil. Regular butter contains butterfat, milk solids, and water. The milk solids are the reason why butter has a low smoke point. When making ghee, the milk solids are strained out, leaving a clear golden liquid that you can cook with. Apart from having a high smoke point, ghee has a toasted umami flavor that complements any dish. Does ghee go bad?

Although ghee has a long shelf life, it will go bad at some point. However, the process of spoilage is different from regular butter due to the lack of milk solids. When butter is about to go bad, it goes through hydrolysis, the butyrate in it starts producing a foul odor.

does ghee go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from Larry Jacobsen

Since ghee doesn’t have butyrate, it doesn’t go through hydrolysis. Instead, it oxidizes when it is about to go bad but it is not as smelly. Since the milk solids are removed, ghee does not spoil as quickly as ordinary butter.

Ghee is a healthy cooking oil. It is packed with essential fatty acids as well as vitamins A, D, E and K. It has zero trans-fat so it is much healthier than some plant-based cooking oils. Now let’s discuss the right ways to store ghee.

How to Store Ghee?

Ghee can be stored in many ways. You can store it in the pantry, chill it in the refrigerator, or keep it in the freezer for long-term storage. Below is the guide on how to store ghee properly.

Storing Ghee in the Pantry

The lack of milk solids means ghee is a stable oil. That means the shelf life of ghee is long so refrigeration is not necessary. However, if the ghee has been kept in the pantry/kitchen cabinet for months, storing it in the fridge should help extend its shelf life.

If you are making ghee from scratch, transfer the product in a heatproof glass with an airtight lid. Pour the ghee into the container and seal with the airtight lid. Write the storage date then place in a dark, cool place away from direct sunlight.

If you can, please make ghee in small batches. Air exposure, heat exposure, exposure to light, and other contaminants may shorten the shelf life of ghee if it is only kept in the pantry. By making less ghee, you are able to use up your supply and avoid waste.

On the other hand, if you bought ghee from the supermarket, you can use the ghee’s original packaging (assuming that it’s a glass container with an airtight lid). Just place the product anywhere in the pantry that’s cool, dark and away from direct sunlight.

Storing Ghee in the Refrigerator

Storing ghee in the fridge is just as easy. If you are making your own ghee, pour the oil in an airtight glass container and leave it to cool completely. Once the ghee has cooled completely, cover with the airtight lid and pop in the fridge to chill.

does ghee go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from Larry Jacobsen

For store-bought ghee, there is no need to transfer the product to a different container. Just stick a bottle of ghee in the fridge and you’re done.

Storing Ghee in the Freezer

Ghee freezes surprisingly well. This is an ideal method when you have a lot of ghee in your hands that’s nearing its expiry date. Freezing works great if you’re not using excess ghee anytime soon. Since glass shouldn’t be used to freeze foods, you need to use a rigid plastic container.

Pour or scoop the ghee into a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid. Do not fill the container to the brim. Leaver a couple of inches to give the oil room to expand as it freezes. Close the lid, write the storage date with a marker then stick in the freezer. To use the ghee, just thaw in the fridge overnight.

Shelf Life of Ghee

An opened bottle of ghee will keep in the pantry for up to 3 months. If you stick it in the fridge, its shelf life is extended to 12 months. However, some say their chilled ghee kept fresh for up to 8 years in the refrigerator! When stored in the freezer, it will keep indefinitely.

Image used under Creative Commons from fishermansdaughter

How to Tell if Ghee Has Gone Bad

Just a look and you will know whether ghee is still safe to use or not. If oxidation has set in, the ghee will turn a weird shade of brown. Give it a whiff and if it smells sour or if it does not smell milky-sweet for some reason, it is no longer safe to use. To make the most out of your supply and for optimal flavor, consume the product in 3 months or less.

Summary

Does ghee go bad? Ghee is far from a delicate cooking oil. It has a long shelf life than most dairy products so there is no need to refrigerate unless you really have to. Chilling the ghee in the fridge or storing it in the freezer are both effective ways to extend the shelf life of ghee. And with minimal flavor changes too!

One thing to remember, air exposure, heat exposure, and light exposure are the enemy. Poor storage environment will shorten the lifespan of the ghee so always place the product in a cool, dark place.