Can Mustard Go Bad?

Hot dogs with mustard

Many people use mustard on a regular basis, but sometimes we might have some leftover mustard sitting in the fridge for a few months already. That’s about the time when we start to look for the answer to the question ‘can mustard go bad?’. As you probably expect, mustard can go bad, but its shelf life (when stored properly) is quite long. If you’d like to learn how mustard should be stored, what’s its shelf life and how to tell if it’s bad, this article is what you’re looking for!

Storing mustard

Commercially bottled mustard should be stored in a cool place away from light. If the bottle is still unopened, the pantry seems to be the best place for it. Some people leave it in room temperature and it’s fine, as long as you don’t plan to store it for a very long period of time. Once the bottle is opened, it’s recommended to store it in the fridge to retain freshness and taste of the condiment for longer. Opened mustard can be stored in the pantry as well, but it will lose its flavor much quicker. One more thing – always keep the bottle of mustard sealed tightly when not in use.

Shelf life of mustard

It’s pretty difficult to determine shelf life of mustard, so most producers just place a ‘best by’ date on the label. As long as the bottle is unopened and stored in a cool place, it should be of best quality for at least two years, possibly longer. Of course the quality drops gradually, so it’s not like the mustard won’t good a day or two after those two years. Once the bottle is opened, if kept in the pantry, mustard should be tasty for a few months (2-3). If you’ll decide to store it in the refrigerator, it can be there even for a year or longer and still be good.

Hot dogs with mustard
(credit: TheBusyBrain)

As mentioned before, mentioned periods of time are just rough estimates. The mustard will be safe to eat for a longer period of time, but in some cases you will decide to discard it simply because of its taste, that definitely won’t of top quality after such a period of time.

How to tell if mustard is bad

Let’s start by talking a little about some circumstances when people believe the mustard is bad, but it’s perfectly fine instead. First one is when the mustard dries out. When that happens, add a tablespoon or more of vinegar or wine to it and stir it. In most cases it will do the trick and you’ll be able to enjoy that mustard. If the mustard separates, just stir it back. It’s quite normal that it happens after a longer period of time and doesn’t mean the mustard is spoiled.

So, when the mustard is bad? If you can find any signs of mold, discard the mustard right away. Other things to consider are: visual changes, changes of smell and flavor. If it looks fine and smells good, just taste a little bit. You’ll surely be able to tell if it’s good or not. In most cases it’ll be safe to eat, but it might simply be not up to your standards and you can decide to throw it away due to quality reasons.

As you should know by now, mustard can go bad, but it takes a pretty long time. It’s much more likely that you’ll decide to throw it away due to quality reasons, as its quality steadily drops in time.