Nutmeg is a spice commonly used in the fall season. It can go in beverages, desserts, and some dinner dishes. If you use nutmeg rarely, you may be wondering: does nutmeg go bad?
Nutmeg does go bad. If kept properly maintained, whole nutmeg can last 4-5 years and ground nutmeg will last 2-3 years. Proper storage includes keeping the spice in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.
Keep nutmeg out of direct sunlight, and ensure it does not come in contact with water. When nutmeg loses its flavor or smell, it has gone bad.
Nutmeg can be pricey. it’s important to know how long nutmeg lasts in varying conditions such as outside, in the fridge, and in the freezer.
Does Nutmeg Go Bad? How Long Does Nutmeg Last?
If you haven’t used your nutmeg in a while, you may be wondering exactly how long it lasts? Is it still safe to use after sitting for a year?
How Long Does Nutmeg Last Outside?
Nutmeg should not be exposed to direct sunlight or extreme heat or cold. For this reason, it is not a good idea to keep nutmeg outside. This is true even if you have it in an airtight container.
While properly-maintained nutmeg can last up to five years, nutmeg left outside can last as little as a few months. It’s important to look for signs your nutmeg has lost its potency.
If left outside and exposed to extreme heat, cold, or especially water, nutmeg can last even less time. Water is the fastest degrader of nutmeg, promoting mold growth on the spice.
How Long Does Nutmeg Last in The Fridge?
Nutmeg should not be put in the fridge. It is true that nutmeg should be stored in a cool place, but the average temperature of a fridge is too cold for nutmeg.
Not only is the fridge too cold, but it can also cause mold to grow on your nutmeg. This is due to the formation of condensation when going from cold to warm temperature.
If you must keep nutmeg in the fridge, make sure the spice is in an air-tight container. However, it’s best to keep it in a pantry drawer or cabinet, where it is dark and cool.
How Long Does Nutmeg Last in The Freezer?
You should not store nutmeg in the freezer. Similar to storing it in the fridge, the freezer is too cold of a temperature for nutmeg storage. It would be best at room temperature or slightly cooler.
Taking nutmeg in and out of the freezer will also promote mold growth on your spice. This is due to condensation formation after exposing the spice to warm and freezing temperatures.
The freezer will not extend the shelf life of nutmeg. The extreme temperature will cause nutmeg to lose its potency in both flavor and aroma, making the spice useless in your favorite recipes.
Nutmeg doesn’t belong outside, in the fridge, or in the freezer. It should always be kept in a pantry cabinet or drawer, sealed in a container.
How to Tell If Nutmeg Has Gone Bad / How to Know Nutmeg Is Fresh?
Nutmeg may last for decades in the same package you bought it in. However, after a few years it will begin to lose potency and go bad. There are several ways to know if your favorite fall spice has gone bad, or if it’s still fresh.
Smell: Everyone does it. You’re not sure if something in the fridge is still good, so you do the only thing that seems natural; you smell it. Nutmeg is the same way. If you smell your nutmeg and it isn’t as potent as when you first bought it, or it smells ‘off,’ it has probably gone bad.
Taste: Unlike spoiled milk or meats, it’s safe to ingest nutmeg that has gone bad. Crush some of the nutmeg between your fingers and taste it. If it doesn’t taste strong, or tastes a little off, it has probably gone bad. It won’t make you sick to eat it, but it won’t be as flavorful or have as much of an aroma.
Sight: Sometimes it’s as simple as seeing a spot of mold. Take a close look at your nutmeg, especially if there’s a chance that water got into the container. If there is any sign of growth, it’s best to throw out the entire package.
How to Store Nutmeg?
Properly storing nutmeg will keep it fresh longer. This will give you the best flavor and aroma when you use it. So how exactly do you properly store nutmeg?
Air-tight container: Store nutmeg in an air-tight container or jar. Just like chips, cereal, and other bagged items, keeping it in an air-tight container eliminates the possibility of it going stale.
Cool Temperatures: Keep your nutmeg cool, around 68 degrees if possible. This will keep it fresh and longer-lasting.
Dry: Make sure your nutmeg stays dry. If any moisture gets into the container, air-tight or not, it can promote mold growth.
Can You Freeze Nutmeg? How?
Freezing is a great way to preserve meats, frozen foods, and even bread. However, not all foods do well in the freezer. Freezing nutmeg will not extend its shelf life, and isn’t a good option due to the cold temperatures. However, if you decide to freeze nutmeg, here are a few suggestions:
Air-tight container: similar to storing nutmeg, if you freeze it, you’ll want to keep it in an air-tight container. This will help keep moisture out of the container.
Consider whole nutmeg: Whole nutmegs are less fragile than ground nutmeg. They last longer, and if properly taken care of can stay fresh for up to five years.
How to Thaw Nutmeg?
It’s not recommended to keep nutmeg in the freezer, but if you do, it’s important to thaw it properly.
Thaw slowly: If you’re planning to use nutmeg, consider moving it from the freezer to the fridge a day before use. This allows the nutmeg to thaw more gradually, instead of straight from the freezer to room temperature.
Use whole nutmeg: Instead of storing ground nutmeg, consider using whole nutmeg. You can thaw it slowly and then grind it fresh, helping to keep the flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions About Nutmeg’s Shelf Life
The shelf life is how long a particular food will last before it expires.
My nutmeg is expired, can I still use it? Yes, you can use nutmeg after the expiration date. Most nutmeg comes with a ‘best if used by’ or ‘best when used by’ date on the package. If properly stored, nutmeg can last far beyond the expiration date before it loses its potency.
Does whole nutmeg last longer than ground nutmeg? Yes, whole nutmeg lasts longer than ground nutmeg. It takes more effort to use whole nutmeg; you have to grind it fresh instead of simply using pre-bought grounds. It will come with the shell, which needs to be cracked and discarded first.
To retain that wonderful autumn aroma in your nutmeg, make sure to keep it in an air-tight container. Keep your nutmeg away from direct sunlight, and in a dry location.