Can turmeric go bad?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can turmeric go bad” by providing answers related to its shelf life, what happens when it goes bad and how to store them correctly. 

Can turmeric go bad?

Turmeric cannot go bad. They lose their flavour and they do not possess a strong aroma past their “best by date” but they cannot make you sick. Although they cannot be stored indefinitely like salt, they still have a very long shelf life. 

What is the shelf life of turmeric?

The shelf life of ground turmeric is three years. The packaging labels on all spices, including turmeric, have a “best by date” rather than an expiration date. This is because turmeric past its “best by date” cannot harm you or make you sick. 

However, it is important to note that whole turmeric can last for a longer time compared to ground turmeric because when you crush the whole turmeric the flavour compounds and its aroma are exposed to air, moisture and light. This leads to shorter shelf life in ground turmeric. The whole turmeric can last for 4 years. 

How to tell when turmeric has gone bad?

Turmeric cannot go bad in a way that it can make you sick. It loses its flavour, aroma and taste past its best by date. These best by dates and their presence on packaging labels simply means that turmeric past that date could lose its flavour. You could still eat it past its best by date on the package but your food just won’t taste the same. 

Spices like turmeric have very strong flavour compounds that contribute to enhancing any dish. Asian cuisines rely on turmeric for its distinct flavour and aroma. It is also used because research shows that it has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has a strong smell and if it does not smell like how it normally does, then it is best to throw it away. Since it cannot make you sick, you can also taste it to see if it still has the same flavour like it did when you first purchased it. 

How to store turmeric for maximum shelf life?

Ground turmeric can last for a long time but as mentioned before, its volatile compounds when exposed to air, moisture or light can have an impact on its shelf life. It is important to store spices like turmeric in an air-tight container. Storing spices in decorative containers and placing them close to the stove is not a good way to preserve spices. 

If these decorative containers are airtight, then they can be placed in a dark cabinet. Storing them in a cool and dry place, like a pantry, is also a good idea. 

The whole turmeric can be cut into small pieces, wrapped in a paper towel and then stored in an airtight container to ensure that no moisture enters the roots and any existing moisture can be absorbed by the paper towel.

The whole turmeric can also be stored in a refrigerator if it is not to be used within three days but this can cause a few problems. It can clump because of an increase in the moisture content or there is a possibility of mold growth. 

Can you freeze turmeric?

Freezing turmeric depends on whether the turmeric is whole or ground. Ground turmeric does not have to be stored in a freezer because it will not make a difference to its shelf life. However, ground turmeric can be stored in the freezer. But it should be prepped before it is ready to go in the freezer. 

  • Cut it into small pieces and wrap it with a paper towel to remove moisture,
  • Let it soak some moisture and use a fresh paper towel to wrap it again,
  • Place them in an airtight container or a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer for future use

How to use turmeric after it has expired?

If you realise that the turmeric is your shelf has lost its flavour and aroma, here are a few ways you can put it to use:

  • You can add turmeric and other expired spices to a bowl of potpourri. Heating spices can recover the lost fragrance and flavours that are lost from the spices on your shelves. This will spread a fresh aroma in your house. 
  • Another interesting way to utilise your expired turmeric would be to use it as paint. Do-it-yourself paints using turmeric is easy. Dilute the ground turmeric with some water and use it to paint a masterpiece. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question “can turmeric go bad?”  by providing answers related to its shelf life, what happens when it goes bad and how to store them correctly

If you have any comments or questions please let us know.


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.