Pepper is a staple seasoning in many foods. You may be ready to whip up a meal but wondering if the pepper that has been in the back of your pantry for what seems like forever is still good to use.
Does pepper expire? Lucky for you, pepper pretty much doesn’t expire. It may lose its flavorful qualities over long periods of time, especially if you don’t store it correctly, but it doesn’t really go bad like most other foods do.
The rest of this article is going to help you understand more about pepper and eating it when it’s old and show you how to keep it fresh for as long as possible.
How Long Does Pepper Last?
Pepper generally lasts about 2 to 4 years before losing some of its quality. If your pepper has a “best by” date on the label, it will last until that date before the quality diminishes. However, pepper will usually stay good much longer than this, it just might not taste as strong as it would if it was fresh.
As long as there are no signs of the pepper going bad, you can pretty much use it for as long as you like. Some people may choose to replace their pepper if it’s been sitting around for too long, because they notice that the taste is dull and doesn’t contribute as much to their food.
In the end, it’s really up to you on if you want to replace your pepper or keep using it. If you don’t notice or mind that the taste isn’t as strong, then keep using that pepper! There is no harm in using it if you are still enjoying the flavor.
How Should You Store Pepper to Keep It Fresh?
Pepper should be stored in a cool, dry place and kept in a tightly sealed container. Keep it away from places with extreme temperatures such as ovens or sunny windows. Following these steps won’t keep your pepper from losing its potency but can keep it fresh for a longer amount of time.
The best way to store your pepper is to keep it in a glass jar with a tightly sealed lid. This will protect it from any contaminants or moisture in the air, keeping it fresh. You could also keep it in a plastic bag that seals well. If it doesn’t seal well on its own, you should seal the bag with a chip clip or rubber band.
The best place to store your pepper is on a thoughtfully placed spice rack or in a cabinet. Just make sure you are keeping it away from heat and humidity. This means that putting your spice rack next to your oven is an especially bad idea, given that cooking can lead to humidity and ovens get hot.
If you think you will use your pepper relatively quickly, don’t be too worried about how you store it. Since it has such a long shelf life, it will stay good for a while before losing its flavor no matter how you store it. But if you think your pepper is going to be around for a while, using these techniques is definitely a good idea.
How Do You Tell If Pepper is Bad?
It’s almost impossible for your pepper to go bad, but it does happen in very rare cases. If your pepper smells off, is strangely clumpy, or is growing mold, it should be tossed out. These are signs that it has somehow gone bad, probably from improper storage.
The most common way for pepper to “go bad” is just that it starts to taste less strong or may lose its taste almost completely. If this is the case, it’s still safe to eat but you probably won’t want to eat it since it won’t really add much flavor to your food.
If your pepper has come into contact with water somehow, it’s possible for it to get clumpy or start to grow mold. If you notice any of this, you should throw it out. Even if you don’t notice anything, it’s best to throw out pepper within a week if it comes into contact with water.
Lastly, really old pepper may start to have a strange odor. If your pepper smells different than you think it should, it might be smart to just throw it out. Plus, chances are if it smells bad it probably doesn’t taste good either, so throwing it out is going to be your best bet.
Will Eating Bad Pepper Make You Sick?
Eating pepper that has expired will almost never make you sick. If the only sign that it’s gone bad is a duller flavor, the pepper is 100% safe to consume and it won’t make you sick. However, if it is emitting a foul smell or you notice mold clumps (which is very rare), it may make you sick if you eat it.
Since pepper is dried there is no way that bacteria can grow in it, unless other contaminants such as water find their way into the jar. This means that 99 times out of 100, your pepper is going to be completely safe to consume, even if it doesn’t have the strongest flavor.
The only time that eating bad pepper could make you sick would be if it had mold in it. Even then, it’s not a complete given that it will make you sick because some kinds of mold are harmless.
Still, you shouldn’t eat moldy pepper because there is a chance that it will make you sick, and you probably don’t want to risk it just for the extra flavor.
Pepper is a great seasoning that adds so much to your food, and it basically never goes bad. Though it can get a little bland overtime, you rarely see it spoil completely, and it’s one of the most reliable foods out there.
We hope that this article has helped you learn more about pepper and has given you peace of mind when it comes to that old jar in the back of your cabinet.