April 30, 2017

Does Mustard Go Bad: Shelf Life and Storage Technique



Have you opened a bottle of mustard lately? As one of the most common condiments and sidekick to ketchup, you can find an opened bottle of mustard in any home. The question that comes to mind is: does mustard go bad? If so, how long before I throw it away? Is there a way to store it and extend its shelf life?

Shelf Life of Commercial Mustard​

Mustard is a good condiment precisely because of what it doesn’t have—fat and sugar. Although a little bit high in sodium, it’s simply made of mustard seed and vinegar and few spices for flavoring. Due to its simple ingredients, mustard does not really go bad. Although that is the case, you also can’t use it forever. It can lose its freshness, flavor, and it dries out and separates. If you store it properly, you can extend its shelf life and maintain its quality for some time. Check the table below for guidance:


Unopened in the pantry

Opened in the refrigerator

Past printed date

Past printed date

American Mustard

1-2 Years

1 Year

Dijon Mustard

2-3 Years

1 Year

Chinese Mustard

1-2 Years

1 Year

Honey Mustard

2-3 Years

1-2 Years

Homemade Mustard

1 Day

1 week - 1 year

Dry Mustard

1-2 Years


​How to Tell if Mustard is Spoiled

​In many instances, people think that mustard has gone bad, but it’s perfectly good instead. The first instance is when it dries out. All you need to do when this happens is to add a tablespoon of vinegar or wine and stir it and you can enjoy your mustard again. When it separates, all you need to do is shake it and it will do the trick. It normally happens when you haven’t used it for a period of time, but it doesn’t mean that it’s spoiled.

So can you tell if mustard has really gone bad? When you see mold in the bottle, you throw it away immediately. If you can see changes in its color or if it smells bad or if there is a drastic change in the flavor, you discard it right away.

While there is no hard and fast rule in telling if a bottle of mustard has gone bad, your senses can tell. If it smells good and appears fine, you can taste it a little bit to find out if it’s gone bad. Often times, you will find out that it’s safe to eat but the quality isn’t there anymore. You might simply discard it for quality reasons but not because you are in danger of some sort if you eat it.

How to Store Mustard and Extend its Shelf Life

After you open a bottle of mustard, it must be stored right away in a cool place and away from light. If the bottle is still sealed, the pantry is a perfect place to store it. If you decide to store it at room temperature, that is fine as long as you don’t expect it place it where it is for a long time.

To maintain its flavor and freshness, the fridge is the perfect place for it. If you store it in a pantry after it’s opened, don’t expect to maintain its flavor for a long time. Lastly, make sure that the bottle is tightly sealed after it’s opened.

There is really no need to extend the shelf like of mustard. You are more likely to consume it before you reach the end of its shelf life. Since it does not really go bad, manufacturers just place a “best by” date on the label. You will observe some variation between manufacturers because they put different spices in it. This simply means that the product is still in good quality within that date, but it doesn’t it isn’t safe to eat when it exceeds it.

As long as the bottle is unopened and stored in a cool dry place, it can stay good for the next couple of years. When the bottle is opened and kept in the pantry, the flavor will stay good for the next couple of months. If you put it in the fridge after opening, it can stay good for another year.

Final Thoughts​

​Due to its high acidity, mustard does not really go bad. Unfortunately, it can lose its flavor and freshness over time or it can dry out and separate. The fridge is the perfect place to store an opened bottle of mustard to maintain its freshness and flavor. Drying out and separation are easily reversible. Just add a little vinegar or wine, give it a good stir and it’s good to eat again.

Do you have some experience with mustard that you want to share? Let us know by dropping a comment or two below.​

    Claire J. Ruiz

    I'm Claire, and my passion is cooking. I believe that food is what actually unites people and the dining table is where we set aside our differences. When we eat we become vulnerable because enjoying food requires a different level of trust and surrender to the person preparing your food. Sharing and enjoying food is one of the most intimate experiences in life.​

    Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

    Leave a Reply: