In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Does salt and pepper go bad?” and tell you what the best before labels on salt and pepper’s packaging means. We will also discuss the shelf life of salt and pepper and give you tips on how to properly store them. We will also tell you how to spot salt and pepper that have gone bad.
Do salt and pepper go bad?
No, salt and pepper do not go bad. Salt is a natural preservative. Pure salt (NaCl) does not go bad. Salt generally lacks moisture which makes it very hard for bacteria to survive on it.
However, table salt that has other chemicals added to it may go bad. The salt itself does not go bad, but the chemical may go bad. One example of these chemicals is iodine which is added to salt to prevent goiter, a thyroid disease.
Pepper does not go bad either except that it may lose its taste over time but it will be safe to use. You will just have to use more of it to get the same flavor profile.
Why do table salt and pepper come with a ‘best before’ label?
You are probably wondering that if salt does not go bad then why does the table salt you bought have a ‘best before’ label on it. This is because, again, the chemicals added to the salt may go bad, not the salt itself. It still does not mean that the salt will be harmful if used. Instead the chemicals may just not provide the benefits that they were meant to provide.
As for pepper, the best before date only depicts the amount of time the pepper will remain in its best quality and retain its flavor. You can still use pepper after this date if it tastes the same, as this date does not depict safety.
What is the shelf life or iodized salt and pepper?
While pure salt can last indefinitely, it is advisable to use iodized salt within five years. It may even be fine to use this salt after 5 years.
Pepper lasts for 3 to 4 years when it is whole and it lasts for about 1 to 2 years in its ground state. You can continue to use pepper for over a year past the best before date if you are fine with its taste.
How to properly store salt and pepper?
Salt and pepper should be kept in a cool, dry place away from heat and light. You should keep them away from the stovetop and appliances that produce heat such as the fridge. Since salt and pepper are used in almost every recipe for seasoning, you can keep them on a rack on your countertop or in the pantry.
It is better to buy a pepper grinder as whole peppercorns last longer than ground pepper and also have a better kick to them.
As for salt, it is very important to keep salt away from moisture as it is hygroscopic in nature and tends to absorb moisture. If it does, the salt will clump up.
Read more about properly storing salt and pepper here.
How to tell if salt and pepper have gone bad?
Look for any bad odor in salt and pepper. Salt usually tends to absorb smells from the surroundings. Also look for any infestation of bugs in your salt and pepper. You should toss out such spices.
Pepper can also get mold so keep an eye out for that. In addition, if you notice any wetness in pepper then you would not be able to use it anymore.
Other FAQs about Salt that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the question “Does salt and pepper go bad?” and told you what the best before labels on salt and pepper’s packaging means. We also discussed the shelf life of salt and pepper and gave you tips on how to properly store them. We also told you how to spot salt and pepper that have gone bad.