Tamarind is widely used in various ways around the world for a variety of uses. Different cultures use it in meals, medicine, and dessert.
Most cultures have their way of storing, preserving, or utilizing this sweet acidic paste. More often than not, you can find this paste in most grocery stores in a jar, tube, or pouch.
Like many other food products, it can be made with or without preservatives. So the real question is, does it ever go bad, and what to look for when you think your paste is bad?
In this article, we’ll find out if tamarind does go bad and how to determine if it has spoiled.
Read on to find out.
Related: What Is Tamarind Paste?
What is Tamarind Paste?
Tamarind paste is made from the fruit of the tamarind tree. This tropical evergreen tree is found in parts of Africa, India, and Pakistan.
The tamarind tree has also found its way to parts of Hawaii and other tropical climate countries. The fruit is grown in a brown pod that contains a sour pulp.
This pulp is what is used to make the delicious tamarind paste, as well as other food items and even natural medicine.
Since this is a fruit, likely, your paste will only last for a while, which is standard for any fruit product.
Like any other food or beverage, tamarind paste has an expiration date, whether it is homemade or store-bought. The fresher the paste, the easier it can spoil.
If you have the time and the culinary experience, it’s always best to opt for a new homemade batch for each recipe you create, but the convenience of store-bought weights soaking pods some days.
How Long Does Tamarind Paste Last?
As with most tamarind products, storing directions will be on the product as well as an expiration date; like most foods, this means the freshness will start to diminish at some point.
So will it go bad? The short answer is YES! The shelf life varies on the consistency of the product. For most homemade tamarind paste recipes, it will last roughly two to four weeks if stored correctly in a refrigerator.
It can be difficult to part with a food item when you know you are one or two days away from the expiration date.
No one likes to waste food. With the time and money, you put into the product you really would like to use that one-day expired food.
These dates are not required by law in all places, but they are a great indicator of when you should start inspecting before using.
For store-bought varieties, tamarind paste can only last for up to 3 months once opened. Most unopened containers can last up to three to five years stabilized on a shelf in a cool dark place.
Freezing can always boost the amount of time your tamarind stays fresh, making it possible to use even after the expiration date.
Always check the manufacturer’s recommendation for storing and the shelf life expiration date.
Freezing your tamarind will extend the expiration date by boosting the shelf life of a homemade recipe to up to three months. Sometimes, a product goes bad even when following all the protocols, but how does one know?
Does Tamarind Get Spoiled?
Tamarind can get spoiled like any other food product. If not stored correctly, it will go bad much quicker.
Follow all the storing methods and check for signs that it has gone bad before consuming. When in doubt, throw it out!
It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to consuming food products. So, does tamarind paste go bad?
Yes, it can go bad if it is not stored correctly or if it has passed the expiration date, and sometimes if a store miss handles the product, you may also have a bad product.
Always inspect your product for signs that it has gone bad before consuming it. Review our tips to ensure your product is safe.
Related: What Is Tamarind Puree?
How Do You Know If Tamarind Has Gone Bad?
When tamarind paste goes bad it will start to form clumps and will no longer be a smooth consistency in texture.
Below are the following ways to determine if tamarind paste has gone bad:
1. Color Changes
As with any food the color of the product is one of the first signs we may notice. The discoloration is more often than not an indicator your product has met its expiration date.
The color of tamarind may begin to darken, and brown spots will start to form. If you see any of these changes, it is time to toss your paste.
Don’t take a chance when your paste starts to look discolored. No food is worth trying to salvage; once it starts to go bad, the bacteria has already grown throughout the product.
2. Texture changes
If the visual change was not enough to stir you away, the way your product comes out of its container is another great indicator. The texture of your product will indicate if your tamarind is going bad.
If your tamarind is a freshly made recipe, the texture will become a more hard-to-solid than the soft paste-like consistency it normally maintains.
It will be very difficult to cook with your expired paste as it will be too hard to emulsify smoothly into your recipe. So remember, if you are struggling to get the tamarind out of the container, toss it out!
3. Taste and flavor Difference
Some like to do a taste test to see if their product has gone bad. With a fresh batch of well-processed tamarind, the flavor is already very acidic.
It may be difficult to tell by taste if your tamarind is bad, but trying a small amount may help you decide if the product is rancid.
To make it even more difficult sometimes, there just might be no flavor to your brand new tamarind paste. Which can be confusing as you just bought your tamarind.
Some sources state that the paste would most likely be flavorless if the product was created with unripened tamarind. It is not just the flavor that can provide tell-tale signs.
Along with the flavor, the smell is also a sure sign if your paste is bad. This is a very popular test most people use to determine if they should use a product.
It may be difficult to determine by smell if your tamarind is bad, but a good tamarind product will still have a slightly sweet smell but with a little more pungency.
More often than not, this is not a stand-alone sign, and there may be many other signs leading to this.
5. Mold development
Like most food products, mold is a common sign that an item is going bad.
Tamarind paste can grow mold just like any other food item, whether the product has been opened or not, or the length of time sitting on a shelf.
The obvious is that the mold will grow quicker with an open product versus an unopened one, but sitting too long without using it the bacteria will begin to grow.
Look at your tamarind paste to visually inspect for mold before using it. With most molds, depending on the container, it can also lead to the beginning stages of rust around the lid and inner part of the rim.
One tell-telling sign is the color. If your product is going bad, it will begin to change color. This is also due to the presence of mold. The tamarind can also grow the common mold we typically see on similar foods.
If your paste was a light brown color and has now darkened, this indicates that it needs to be thrown away.
If you also have a rusting product, this is another sign of mold growth, as rust on a food container is caused by a type of fungus.
If you have followed all the storing methods, know your expiration date, and inspected your product and you are still unsure if it is safe to consume, always take the time to smell, taste, and visually inspect.
Do You Have To Refrigerate Tamarind Paste After Opening?
It is suggested to refrigerate your tamarind paste once you have opened the container and especially if it is a homemade variety.
It is strongly recommended if you make a homemade recipe, store it in an airtight container to seal its freshness. This will help maintain the quality and shelf life of your product.
Tamarind paste can be stored in a number of ways. For most recipes, it is recommended to store them in an airtight container and the refrigerator.
If you have a lot of paste, you can portion out what you need and freeze the rest for later use.
Freezing will further extend the shelf life of your tamarind paste and is a great way to always have tamarind on hand.
This will make it last up to three months. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.
Just like any food, tamarind is not immune to going rancid. Take every precautionary step to store and maintain freshness since most store-bought tamarind can be costly.
Always inspect before using your tamarind paste as you would with any food. Keep in mind that even when stored in the freezer, the tamarind is still possible go bad after a few months.
You may also ensure the packaging you are freezing the tamarind paste in is fully closed and sealed correctly to prevent any freezer burn.