Finding old open packs of spices like nutmeg is common because we store them and forget where we were kept.
Because of this, one get confused as they think about whether the pack will be safe to use or do nutmeg goes bad.
All spices have a specific shelf life, and they do go bad after some nutmeg is similar to them.
Many people consider the printed or labeled date on the pack as the shelf life, but the best-by date is only indicated by the manufacturer, which describes when you can enjoy the spice without losing its quality.
What is Nutmeg?
This is a spice made from the seeds of the nutmeg tree that are native to Indonesia.
These evergreen trees provide two main ingredients one is nutmeg, and another is mace.
Mace is a red lace kind of element that is the outer covering of the seed.
This spice is used in different recipes, desserts, and even beverages.
It is an autumn spice that is dried in sunlight for a period of 6 to 8 weeks before they are packed.
The nutmeg is ready to use when it is separated from its outer covering.
Due to light, the seed shrinks, and one can shake it to find out if the kernels are rattling in the shell.
These seeds can be used either as a whole or ground up.
The taste of nutmeg is sweeter, mild, and delicate as compared to mace; also, it has a strong and distinct aroma.
How Long Does Nutmeg Last? Does Nutmeg Go Bad?
These are highly expensive; therefore, if you do not use them frequently, then be sure to avoid the bulk purchase.
You have to compromise their taste when you store them for an extended period of time.
Over time the seeds will lose their taste quality and flavor, which is why one must use them before their best-by date lapses.
The shelf life of a seed is beyond its printed date, and by providing good storage to seeds, one can preserve the quality of their nutmegs even after its best-by date.
If we talk about the actual shelf life of ground nutmeg, they can serve you for 2 to 3 years.
However, people who are not planning to use them for a more extended period can buy whole nutmeg as they have a shelf life of 4 to 5 years.
Then when you like to use them, you can apart them from their shell.
Ground nuts have a shorter life because once their shell is removed, they are too exposed to air and oxygen, which deteriorates their quality as time passes.
The nuts are dried beforehand, prolonging their storage, and spices can last longer.
How to Tell if Nutmeg Has Gone Bad?
- Formation of Mold.
When you are storing the seeds, then you need to be sure that they are not in contact with any kind of liquid or water.
That is because once nutmeg excess exposure to water can lead to mold formation.
This will promote bacterial growth and clustered surface in the seeds.
Therefore if you want to save your seeds from spoilage, then protect them from moisture.
- Off Smell.
When you find an old kept pack, then it would be better to smell it before use.
That is because nutmegs lose their aroma as you store them, and once they are gone bad, they will develop an off smell.
If they are offering a foul odor, then this is your indication that you should throw them out.
- Try Tasting.
If you are in doubt about using them or not, then first smell them; if there is no foul odor, then you can try tasting them.
The seed will obviously degrade in taste, but the taste will still be bearable if it is good.
Therefore, if the flavor is a little off, you can still use them, but this will not give your recipe the taste you expect.
How to Store Nutmeg?
- Use Airtight Container.
While storing, you need to pay attention that your nutmegs are not exposed a lot.
Because this can ruin their freshness and make them bad in no time, therefore it would be better if you store them in an airtight container.
This will help you to cut down all the outer elements that can affect the nutmeg.
- Avoid Heat and Light Exposure.
When factors like heat, light, or moisture get into your seeds, it becomes hard to save them.
After that, no matter how sealed or safe you keep them, they will go bad.
Thus it would be best if you were sure to preserve them when they are fresh.
For that, you should avoid storage in pantry areas that are more exposed to heat and direct sunlight.
- Do Not Use a Wet Spoon.
When we are in a hurry, we neglect cleanliness and use a wet or dirty spoon to scoop out the spice.
Because of this, moisture gets into the jar, and then it begins to develop mold or bacteria as you keep it close.
Tasting can be the best way to find out bad nutmeg.
Also, expired nutmegs do not cause any harm; thus, it is entirely safe, and one can consume them in small quantity.
Adding proper storage measures will increase the shelf life of nutmegs.
Better storage can improve its life even when stored in the pantry at room temperature.
If you do not have an airtight container, then a Ziploc bag can also be used to seal the nutmegs.