Does Nutmeg Go Bad?
Unfortunately, nutmeg won’t last forever. However, it doe last quite a long time in comparison to most foods. This is because it doesn’t contain any moisture and is generally kept in a jar in the dark. This is true with both whole and ground nutmeg. But how long is a long time, and how can I make sure I don’t use gone off nutmeg? Well, below we explain how best to keep it for the longest possible time and how to tell if it has gone bad.
How Do I Store Nutmeg?
Luckily, nutmeg is really easy to keep for a long time. It doesn’t require much maintenance, and in most cases, nothing really bad will go wrong. So, that spells good news for the opened jar of nutmeg that has been shoved to the back of the cabinet. The only tricks really are to keep the nutmeg away from the elements that can do it harm. The main offenders here are light, heat, and moisture. So, for the first tip – always keep your spice rack away from the cooker and the sink. The pantry or a kitchen cabinet is also a good choice for a home for your nutmeg. If you usually buy whole seeds, the best idea is to transfer them into an airtight container or jar. If your ground nutmeg comes in a package, it is definitely a good idea to transfer it into a more solid container too.
One great tip we have is to always avoid grating whole nutmeg over the food you are currently cooking. Doing this can cause moisture to seep into the seed, making it go off much quicker. Instead, you should grind it up onto a plate or a chopping board away from your food.
Should You Refrigerate Nutmeg?
Storing nutmeg in the fridge is actually a pretty bad idea. Though the nutmeg is fine at this temperature, it is what happens when you take it out to use it that damages it. The temperature of the jar will change to adapt to the temperature of the room. When this happens, condensation will occur, drawing moisture into the nutmeg. In the long run, this is guaranteed to make your nutmeg grow mold.
Can You Freeze Nutmeg?
Freezing nutmeg really isn’t all that necessary. To do it right, you would have to portion it out. It is just a lot of effort for not so much gain. Plus, the same condensation will affect frozen nutmeg as will affect refrigerated nutmeg.
How Long Does Nutmeg Last?
Because nutmeg has zero moisture in it, it will last for a very long time if stored correctly. If you really want to keep nutmeg for the longest possible time, buy the full seed. The outer parts of the seed act as a shield for the inner parts, keeping it good for even longer. Really, the more surface area that is exposed, the quicker it begins to fade. We say it begins to fade because it is far more common for nutmeg to just get old and musty rather than going off.
In the case of things like nutmeg and cinnamon, the sell-by date can be almost entirely irrelevant. If stored correctly, nutmeg will nearly always surprise you by lasting way longer than the printed date. So, good news for the nutmeg that has been at the back of the spice rack for years. It may still have a chance! So, here are our estimates for how long your nutmeg can last. We recommend using whole nutmeg within 3 years, whether it is opened or not. Ground nutmeg doesn’t fare quite as well but is still quite hardy. We recommend using it within a year and a half. These dates are often quite a bit longer than the label would suggest. After this point, your nutmeg will probably still be safe to use, but it is not going to have the same kick as it once had.
How Do I Make Nutmeg Last Longer?
Really, the best way we can think of to keep nutmeg for as long as possible is to always buy it whole. The outer parts will protect the inner parts and it will stay fresh for much longer. As we have seen, there is no point in refrigerating or freezing it. It just won’t add any shelf-life to its already generous best-by. In addition, it may actually cause moisture in the form of condensation to be attracted into the nutmeg, spoiling it prematurely. So, the best way to keep nutmeg is as follows:
Always buy the whole seed, transfer them into an airtight jar, keep them out of sunlight and heat, and simply forget about them.
Signs That Your Nutmeg May Have Gone Off
It is very rare that something will go dramatically wrong with your nutmeg. Too much heat or sunlight will cause it to fade and lose a lot of its flavor, but that is about it. However, if any moisture gets into the jar, the situation becomes a lot more serious. In this case, you may begin to notice that there are spots of mold in the jar. If so, the nutmeg must be thrown out. Don’t try to grate off the outer parts to get to the inner parts as they will soon go moldy too. Other signs of spoilage aren’t quite as obvious. Before mold appears, it is often after the smell of the nutmeg has begun to change. If you notice that it smells uncharacteristically bitter and unappealing, it is time to chuck it out.
That’s all we have on nutmeg. We hope you found this little guide in some way useful and informative. Thanks for reading!