Can turmeric go bad?
In this guide, we will concisely 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?
In practice, turmeric cannot go bad. Because of turmeric’s shallow water content, it is considered microbiologically stable, implying that neither bacteria nor fungi will grow in it .
However, if unproperly stored, it can soak up water from the environment, increasing moisture and favoring microbial proliferation.
The main alterations of turmeric over time that make it go bad are related to chemical changes, as chemical and flavor compounds undergo degradation during storage.
What is the shelf life of turmeric?
The shelf life of ground turmeric is one year, according to manufacturers. The packaging labels on all spices, including turmeric, have a “best-before” rather than an expiration date.
This is because turmeric past its “best-before” date will rarely harm you or make you sick, but flavor and health benefits may be compromised.
Thus, if correctly stored, turmeric can be used for more than one year, until you perceive modifications in taste or color.
It is important to note that whole turmeric can last longer compared to ground turmeric because when you crush it, it becomes more exposed to air, moisture, and light. This leads to shorter shelf life in ground turmeric.
How to tell when turmeric has gone bad?
To tell if turmeric has gone bad, you should observe any signs of color, taste, or appearance change.
Spices like turmeric have very strong flavor compounds that contribute to enhancing any dish. Asian cuisines rely on turmeric for its distinct flavor and aroma.
One sign that turmeric has gone bad is if it does not smell like how it normally does, then it is best to throw it away.
Since it will hardly make you sick, you can also taste it to see if it still has the same flavor as it did when you first purchased it.
Cluster formation may indicate water absorption, so it is not safe to consume turmeric like this because microbes may have developed in it.
If properly stored, turmeric will hardly go bad in a way that it can make you sick. Past its best-before date, turmeric simply loses its flavor and shows extensive degradation of beneficial compounds.
Thus, these best-before dates and their presence on packaging labels mean that turmeric past that date could lose its flavor and health benefits.
Turmeric is also used because of its health-promoting effects. Several studies show that it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties . Past the best-before date, compounds related to these benefits also experience a decline .
Can you freeze turmeric?
Turmeric can be frozen. But it depends on whether the turmeric is whole or ground. Ground turmeric does not have to be stored in a freezer because it will not affect its shelf life.
Ground turmeric can be stored in the fridge. To do so, place them in an airtight container or a ziplock bag and store them in the freezer for future use.
What does affect the shelf life of turmeric?
The main factor influencing the shelf life of turmeric is storage conditions.
A study published in the Journal of Engineering  says that turmeric packed in polypropylene pouches and stored at 27 °C and high relative humidity (65%) absorbed water until its moisture content reaches around 10%, becoming soggy.
Increased water content may contribute to the proliferation of fungi and to the degradation of active compounds in turmeric, as the authors also observed a drop of 30% in curcumin content.
Exposure to light, excessive heat, and the air are also critical because the chemical components in turmeric associated with flavor, aroma, and health benefits are highly sensitive to environmental conditions, as highlighted in studies [3, 4].
Thus, protecting turmeric from an adverse environment is fundamental to keeping its quality during storage.
How to properly store turmeric?
Turmeric should be stored in dry, cool places, preferentially in airtight containers, far from excessive heating and direct exposure to sunlight.
This will ensure the quality of your turmeric during its best-before date, and extend the period you can use it after its best-before date past.
How to use turmeric after it has expired?
If you realize that the turmeric is your shelf has lost its flavor 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 flavors that are lost from the spices on your shelves. This will spread a fresh aroma in your house.
- Another interesting way to utilize your expired turmeric would be to use it as paint. Do-it-yourself paints using turmeric are 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.
1. Sowbhagya HB, Smitha S, Sampathu SR, Krishnamurthy N, Bhattacharya S. Stability of water-soluble turmeric colourant in an extruded food product during storage. Journal of Food Engineering. 2005;67(3):367-71.
2. Aggarwal BB, Yuan W, Li S, Gupta SC. Curcumin-free turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 2013;57(9):1529-42.
3. Neves MIL, Desobry-Banon S, Perrone IT, Desobry S, Petit J. Encapsulation of curcumin in milk powders by spray-drying: Physicochemistry, rehydration properties, and stability during storage. Powder Technology. 2019;345:601-7.
4. Aw YZ, Lim HP, Low LE, Surjit Singh CK, Chan ES, Tey BT. Cellulose nanocrystal (CNC)-stabilized Pickering emulsion for improved curcumin storage stability. LWT. 2022;159:113249.