Seasonings often make or break most recipes. They're more important to some home cooks than others, but every kitchen should have some spices in it. One of the most popular and common spices used to bring some heat to a dish is cayenne pepper. Like all spices, cayenne pepper might sit in your cupboard for a very long time. This can make anyone start to wonder exactly how long does it last? We have researched cayenne pepper in all of its forms so that you can know how long it lasts and what influences the length of that time.
How long cayenne pepper lasts is largely determined by if it is ground or fresh. Ground cayenne pepper can last up to an astonishing four years! Whole fresh cayenne pepper lasts for just around five days at room temperature. Making sure cayenne is stored in a closed, dry container is important. The fridge and freezer will keep it fresh for up to two weeks and six months.
We know that's a lot of information surrounding one spice. To make sure that any cayenne pepper you purchase is going to last as long as possible, you may want some more information. Continue down below to learn the ins and outs of keeping your cayenne tasting great for as long as possible.
All About Making Cayenne Pepper Last
Most households probably have a small container of ground cayenne pepper somewhere in their kitchen. A few may even purchase it fresh to get the extra flavor perks that come with that. Regardless of what form it is, a lot can influence its freshness.
How Long Does Ground Cayenne Pepper Last Vs. Fresh?
Commercially prepared and ground spices are made to last a lot longer than their fresh counterparts. The process is engineered so that ground cayenne lasts three to four years stored properly at room temperature.
Fresh whole cayenne only has around five days in the same conditions. Once cut, the shelf life of your fresh cayenne goes down to just a few hours outside of the fridge or freezer. So you have to weigh convenience against the fresh flavor when picking what form you buy it in.
How Do You Properly Store Cayenne Pepper?
The best way to store cayenne pepper is in a dry, closed container. If the cayenne is ground then you really just need to make sure it is in a closed container. If it somehow gets wet, it will clump and significantly shorten its shelf life.
For fresh cayenne, you will want to use a paper towel to dry it off after cleaning. Then put it in a bag or container and seal it in some way.
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Is It Better To Store Spices In Glass Or Plastic?
It may depend on the quality of the spice you purchase, but glass is a better option overall. Most of the time when you purchase them at the store, spices will already be in glass containers. This is because glass is less porous than plastic. It's not a big deal at first, but after a long period of time, the plastic compounds can make your spices go bad more quickly.
Should You Store Cayenne Pepper In The Fridge?
By far, the best place for fresh cayenne to be stored is in the refrigerator. Place the properly stored cayenne in one of the produce drawers at the bottom of your fridge, and it can last one to two weeks. If it is cut up then it will still last longer in the fridge but only for around four days.
For the ground version of this spice, you can put it in the fridge, but it's not necessary. It can last the same amount of time when placed in a pantry or cupboard.
Does Freezing Spices Keep Them Fresh?
Using the freezer is a great option for keeping your fresh cayenne pepper fresh for longer. Obviously, this only really works if you buy in bulk and want to have some for a later date. Fresh cayenne can last for up to six months in the freezer, even if it is sliced up.
Make sure to clean and thoroughly dry cayenne the same way that you would for the fridge. Then, place it in a sealable freezer bag and get as much air out as possible before placing it in the freezer.
How Do You Know If Cayenne Pepper Has Gone Bad?
This is more of a concern with fresh cayenne pepper. One of the best ways to tell if it has gone or is going bad is to simply look at it. The most obvious visual sign is mold. If you see mold, then you should toss it immediately.
The next clearest sign is that the pepper will be shriveled and wrinkled. This is how you can tell if they are starting to dry out. You will also want to be on the lookout for dark and soft spots. Feeling it and smelling it can also help you tell if it has gone bad. If it comes down to taste, it will have less heat and flavor.
For ground cayenne, it's a lot harder to tell without tasting. It may feel differently if you rub some between your fingers. The smell might also be less strong if it's no longer good. If all else fails, you can taste a little and see if it is off at all.
What Happens If You Eat Expired Cayenne Pepper?
Once again, it depends on if it's fresh or ground. Nothing will really happen if you ingest expired ground cayenne pepper. It will just not taste as good or as flavorful as it used to. However, eating expired fresh cayenne can have a lot of the same consequences as eating other spoiled produce.
Can Expired Spices Make You Sick?
Eating expired fresh cayenne does have the ability to make you sick. If it is moldy and you have a mold allergy, then it can have very serious effects. It could also give you food poisoning your make you feel sick to your stomach.
However, if neither of those things occurs, then it will just taste bad and have a very unpleasant texture. Eating expired ground cayenne can't really make you sick.
How Long Does Cayenne Pepper Last After Its Expiration Date?
Ground cayenne will last forever past its expiration date if stored properly. However, you probably won't want to use it anymore because its flavor will be greatly diminished the older it gets. Fresh cayenne peppers don't last at all after they have expired. They will spoil like other produce.
Should You Buy Fresh Or Ground Cayenne Pepper?
This can depend on a few factors. How much you use it is one. If you need just a little here and there, then ground might be best. If your spice cabinet is getting full, then buying it fresh might be a better option for you. The biggest difference is the flavor and taste. Fresh cayenne goes bad much more quickly, but it also has a much fresher and vibrant flavor.
Ground cayenne can last several years if it is kept dry and stored in a closed glass container. Fresh cayenne only lasts about a week on your counter. If you put it in the fridge, its shelf life will be doubled, and freezing will make it last up to six months. Just make sure that it is prepared and stored properly for where you are keeping it.
If you ground cayenne does go bad, it won't hurt you; it will just lose its flavor. Now, you can keep your food tasting as delicious as possible with the freshest cayenne pepper!
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