Do Sesame Seeds Go Bad?

By: Bob's Red Mill | September 1 2022

If you've recently begun baking with sesame seeds, or happen to find a bag at the back of your pantry that you'd like to use, then you might find yourself wondering if sesame seeds go bad. While sesame seeds have a long shelf-life, they must be stored properly to ensure freshness. Continue reading to learn more about the proper storage of sesame seeds and how you can determine if the seeds in your kitchen have spoiled.

Do Sesame Seeds Spoil?

Sesame seeds are a nutritious ingredient that, after some time, will go rancid. When stored improperly or for a long time, the nutrients in sesame seeds begin to deteriorate. If you think the seeds in your pantry may be spoiled, there are a few ways to test them and find out. 

Taste Test

The first way to tell if sesame seeds are spoiled is to taste them. Sesame seeds that taste bitter instead of sweet are almost always rancid. On the other hand, a fresh sesame seed will have a sweet, slightly nutty flavor, not a bitter one.

Smell Them

Now, if you're not keen on tasting rancid food, another way you can check to see if your seeds have spoiled is to smell them. Spoiled seeds will give off a chemical-like odor comparable to nail polish remover. They may also smell sour. That being said, not all rotten seeds smell bad, and it's essential to pay close attention to the best by date to ensure that your sesame seeds are still safe to eat.

Sesame seeds on a grey wooden table

Search for Bugs

Sesame seeds are delicious, which means they're an incredibly tasty food for pantry bugs. Unfortunately, if the sesame seed container isn't sealed tightly, pantry pests can make their way into the seeds. If you notice bugs, eggs, or larvae in your sesame seeds, you'll want to throw the seeds out immediately and check the other food in your pantry for the same.

Check for Mold

Though mold isn't a common sign of seed spoilage, it is possible. If moisture seeps into your bag of sesame seeds, it could trigger mold to grow. Any sign of mold or white fuzz on sesame seeds is a sign of spoilage.

Can You Eat Expired Sesame Seeds?

If you've checked your sesame seeds for visible signs of spoilage, smelled them and performed a taste test, and they still seem fresh, then they probably are! That being said, even if a sesame seed doesn't show signs of spoilage, it does expire after a certain period. 

What Happens if You Do Eat Spoiled Sesame Seeds?

You're not likely to get sick if you accidentally eat a small amount of spoiled sesame seeds. In fact, most of the time, individuals don't experience any immediate adverse effects. However, individuals who have sensitive stomachs might experience minor digestive issues a few hours later. If you consume a large amount of spoiled seeds and feel a bit off, we recommend speaking to a health professional immediately for further guidance.

How Long Do Sesame Seeds Last?

The shelf life of sesame seeds largely depends on how the seeds are prepared and stored. Here's a quick overview of the average shelf-life for this seed.

Unopened Sesame Seeds

We do not recommend consuming products past the best by date. That said, you'll want to ensure that the seeds are stored properly and kept in a dry, dark and cool place—like the back of your pantry.

pastry with sesame seeds

Opened Sesame Seeds

Once a bag of sesame seeds is opened, we recommend transferring them to an airtight container. Opened sesame seeds can be stored in two ways—you can either keep them in the pantry or store them in the refrigerator.

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Once toasted, the shelf-life of sesame seeds shortens quite a bit. Storing toasted sesame seeds in an airtight container in the pantry will keep them fresh for three months. When stored in the refrigerator, they will keep for six months.

It's important to remember that these expiration periods are rough estimates and that the freshness of your sesame seeds depends on the conditions they are stored in.

The next time you purchase a bag of sesame seeds, use the storage guidelines in this article to ensure that they remain fresh for as long as possible. And, if you're concerned that your sesame seeds have rotted, remember to check for the signs of spoilage above. From everyone at Bob's Red Mill, we wish you a fun and flavorful week!

1 Comment

  1. Kevin
    Can you edit the article to actually add the shelf life for 1) unopened sesame seeds and 2) opened sesame seeds? You only give the shelf life of (opened?) toasted sesame seeds. Thanks.

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