Rather than undertaking frequent trips to the supermarket, people like us believe in planning ahead. This is why we buy food ingredients in bulk, especially spices. Aside from salt and oregano, several packets of black pepper are found at the back of every pantry due to their heavy usage.
However, such a procedure can come at a price when the same packet of black pepper is left behind for months. Should you still use it? Will it retain its strong and pungent aroma?
We are sure you have many such questions lingering in your mind. But don’t sweat. Even though black pepper can go bad after a certain period, we shall show you how to store it properly to avoid any such circumstances. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s know about black pepper a little bit more today!
Can Black Pepper Go Bad?
Talking about black pepper and most spices, you should know that the expiry date is just about a quality check. That does not always mean that black pepper is unsafe to consume post its expiry date.
This makes it clear that you can use it for months, even years, past its expiry date. However, the flavors might deteriorate.
So the good news is that dried and grounded spices like black pepper don’t generally spoil for years, but flavors can still change over time or even lose their intensity.
Let’s first begin with how long black pepper lasts in its ideal state so we can keep the flavors intact and make the most out of it.
How long does black pepper last (shelf-life)
Although black pepper does not go bad, it does tend to lose its taste and aroma over time. So it won’t be wrong to say that black pepper does not last forever.
Black pepper comes by best-by date or expiry date. This suggests that your black peppers will be flavourful until then.
Yes, its storage method as well matters the most, but black pepper will be at the peak of its freshness only until its expiry date.
That does not mean you throw the black pepper once it’s past its best-before date. It is completely safe to use it after that as well. You can use it as long as you love its taste.
So approximately a packed whole peppercorns last as long as three to five years, and ground peppers will last two years.
The flavors will definitely fade after this, and so better to get a new one than just add for the sake.
Also, sometimes black pepper starts showing some signs that suggest it’s no safer to consume. So let’s know when you should stop consuming those black pepper and get a new packet.
How to tell if black pepper has gone bad?
We love spices for all the flavors it adds to our meals. And we definitely want to use them only until they add spicy hot flavor to our meals.
Well, with black peppers, it’s nothing different. It is safe to consume black peppers if you see no change in their color, texture, or taste.
If you notice your black pepper is moldy or wet, it means they have completely gone bad. Throw them immediately, as that can affect the rest of the spices as well.
Secondly, when black pepper ages, it loses its heat. That means it won’t have its spicy hot flavors anymore, no matter how much you add it. This will only happen when black pepper has been 4 to 5 years old.
So black pepper just goes bad either when it comes in contact with moisture or watery substances or when it’s been an old ancient pack that you are using.
If neither of these is a situation and still black pepper has lost its flavors, try toasting it in a pan at medium to low heat. Stir it constantly, as you don’t want to burn it.
If you are unsure of its quality or flavors, there is a trick. Simply crush some black pepper in a jar or on your hand. Take a whiff or give it a taste. If it lacks a strong aroma or intense spicy flavor, it probably means it has gone bad.
Storing it well always helps, and so here’s what you should know to keep black pepper’s flavors intact.
How to store black pepper?
Minimizing exposure to air, sunlight, and moisture is the key to increasing the shelf-life of black pepper.
It might seem convenient to store black pepper and the rest of the spices next to the stove in a clear container, but this can affect its shelf-life.
So store black pepper in a cool, dry place that is away from direct sunlight. Also, make sure that they are kept in glass or ceramic containers that are air-tight and easy to clean.
You can also choose plastic containers, but they should be airtight. Steel containers do not really retain the heat, and this can accelerate the spoiling process.
Spices do not always require refrigeration. Sometimes, keeping them in a refrigerator can accumulate moisture, leading to spoilage, and it’s exactly what we want to avoid.
So better store black pepper in a tightly sealed jar for extended longevity in the best quality. The goal is to protect it from watery substances.
While using black pepper, it is advisable to use clean spoons. Sometimes, even tiny food particles can lead to mold formation when left in a jar.
So better to be cautious if you want to make the most out of it.
Risk of consuming old or bad black pepper
Just like any other additive, consuming expired or spoiled black pepper is never a safe option. This is because it can spoil your overall dish.
Usually, old or spoiled black pepper will add no flavors to your meal. Irrespective of the quantity, it will not bring anything to the table (pun, not intended).
Also, sometimes consuming it in a larger amount due to the extra addition of black pepper to a meal can cause stomach infections. It can cause acidity and make you ill.
Kids can have adverse effects as well. So it is advisable to avoid consuming old or spoiled black pepper.
If your black pepper has lost its flavors, that does not mean it has lost its effectiveness. When used in larger quantities, it can still lead to the same health issues.
Can you Freeze Black Pepper?
While black pepper can be stored in the kitchen pantry, you can get an intensified taste by freezing them. Yes, you read that right. You can freeze black pepper.
All you need to do is placed the black pepper in an airtight container and place it in the freezer.
Alternatives of Black Pepper if it Goes Bad
If you need to spice your cooking without black pepper, you can try the following alternatives:
- Ground white pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Coriander seeds
- Yellow mustard seeds
- Pink peppercorns
FAQs About Black Pepper
What are the side effects of black pepper?
Despite having exceptional health benefits, black pepper can sometimes give you a burning sensation after taste. Also, it can give you an upset stomach as well.
It can develop allergic reactions to black pepper as well. So it is important that you consume within a limit.
Can black pepper raise blood pressure?
Black pepper is rich in antioxidants and thus can be extremely beneficial in managing blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure, you can surely benefit from consuming a tiny amount each day to manage it easily.
You can also consume black pepper tea as it helps boost immunity and heal throat infections quickly.
How much black pepper is safe?
With exceptional health benefits and strong flavors, black pepper is now a part of every kitchen. But make sure you consume it in moderation.
It is not advisable to have more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of black pepper every day. More than this can lead to severe health issues you probably want to avoid.
Black pepper is a kitchen staple worldwide, and so it is better you make the most out of it. With its subtle heat and strong flavors, we are definitely sure this can boost up the flavors.
So make sure you store your black pepper in a cool and dry place and keep it away from direct sunlight. Also, ensure that you use clean and dry spoons.
Storing black pepper in an air-tight container will keep the quality intact for a longer duration. In case it’s been a long since you got black pepper and the flavors seem to fade, know that you can revive them as mentioned above.
It’s always better to grind black pepper as it’s easy to store and consume. But if you notice molds or any odor, discard it.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.