If you are a fan of Middle Eastern cuisine, you have likely encountered tahini. It is one of the main ingredients in hummus, which may be the best-known Middle Eastern dish. If you have tried to cook with it, you may well have a partially consumed jar of it somewhere in your kitchen. Tahini consists of roasted, ground sesame seeds. The seeds have been made into a paste with a consistency similar to that of natural peanut butter. Like peanut butter, tahini can have a long shelf life or a short one depending on how you store it. Here is a look at some of the best ways to store tahini for the best flavor.
In the cupboard
The traditional way to store tahini is at room temperature if you live in a temperate or cold climate. Ideally, it should be kept in a dark place which means that you can stick it in a cupboard that you keep closed most of the time. In most cases, this will be sufficient to keep it safe to use for about six months if the container has been opened or up to two years for a sealed container. The oil in tahini can separate over time, simply stir with a clean spoon to mix it back in. If you live in a very hot climate, you will have to use one of the methods below.
One of the key factors in how long your tahini will last at room temperature is moisture. Keep water from getting into your tahini. You should ensure that any utensils you use to take tahini out of its container are dry. Another factor is bacteria. At room temperature, bacterial growth will be faster than it would be at lower temperatures. Use only clean utensils to remove tahini from the container so that your tahini doesn’t get contaminated.
Like most perishable food products, you can add months or even years to the shelf life of your tahini if you keep it in the refrigerator. Lower temperatures slow the bacterial growth that causes spoilage. For tahini, its high oil content makes it prone to going rancid. You can prevent that for a long time by keeping it in the fridge.
Storing it in the refrigerator will change its texture because of its fat content. It will get stiffer and more difficult to stir, which may affect its usefulness for certain dishes. You can soften it by letting it sit out on the counter until it gets back to room temperature.
Tahini can handle being frozen and thawed, but you will have to take steps to protect it. Place plastic wrap over the opening of the jar and then screw the lid on over it. This protects the tahini from freezer burn and from absorbing the odors of other foods. If the jar is full, remove some tahini to give the remainder room to expand when it freezes.
Another way to safely freeze tahini is to remove it from the container it came in and place it into a resealable freezer bag. Roll the bag to squeeze out the air before sealing. While tahini can last for more than a year in the freezer, it is recommended that you use it within that year if you want to enjoy it at its best quality.