Does Mustard Go Bad? How Long Do They Last?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 5th, 2022

Does Mustard Go Bad?  How Long Do They Last?

Mustard seeds are a culinary staple that may be used in cooking, pickling, and, of course, mustard sauce.


These small spherical seeds are commonly utilized in Indian, Western, and other cuisines. Mustard is unquestionably one of the most popular condiments on the planet.

Now and again, we discover intriguing, long-forgotten delicacies at the back of the pantry. This time, it’s a mustard bottle that attracts your eye. It appears to be in fine condition. However, it has beyond its expiration date.

Is mustard perishable? How about mustard seeds? Is it OK to use mustard seeds that have been sitting about for a long in cooking or pickling?

In any case, don’t worry! Stay tuned for a deeper look at mustard’s shelf life, storage, and indicators of spoilage in this post. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for mustard seeds or mustard sauce!

Mustard Facts

Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a plant of the same name. It can be created with water, vinegar, such as balsamic vinegar, or even wine, as well as various spices.

As a result, several types of products are available, and not all of them have the same hue as you might imagine. Mustard has the texture of a sauce or a paste and can range in color from brilliant yellow to dark brown. The flavor is likewise distinct, ranging from sweet to peppery.

For example, English mustard has a light paste-like texture with a bright yellow hue, whereas Bavarian mustard is sweet and chocolate-brown, and French mustard is dark-brown with a crumbly texture.

What Ingredients Are in Mustard?

Mustard is prepared from a mixture of dried mustard seeds, salt, water, and other liquid such as vinegar, white wine, lemon juice, or beer.

The mustard seeds themselves are derived from a Brassica plant with lovely yellow blossoms. White, brown, and black mustard seeds are all employed in the culinary world, with white and brown seeds being the most commonly used to make the paste we all know and love known as mustard.

Human ingenuity, always seeking to improve, has resulted in a wide range of mustard flavors, from the basic yellow mustard (a mainstay of American grill-outs) to earthier, spicy brown mustards with only partly pulverized seeds and a unique texture.

You can even produce mustard at home if you have a food processor and a few simple components.

Is mustard free of gluten?

Mustard sauces are often created with mustard seeds, vinegar, wine (in the case of Dijon mustard), spices, and other components. These components are gluten-free by nature. However, this is not enough to ensure that mustard is always gluten-free.

Cross-contamination is possible if it is produced in the same facility as other gluten-containing items. As a result, always verify the allergy information on the label or contact the manufacturer for further information.

What is the shelf life of mustard?

Dried spices like mustard seeds do not deteriorate as quickly as fresh products. They do, however, lose their aromatic profile with time.

Mustard seeds, both whole, and ground, have a long shelf life. Subject to adequate storage conditions, they should survive at least 3 to 4 years for whole seeds and 2 to 4 years for ground seeds.

Mustard sauce may be stored in a glass jar for up to 24 months and can be stored in compressed tubes for up to 18 months.

Mustard seeds and mustard sauces have a “best by” or “best before” date on the label. With proper storage, you may anticipate them to be in excellent condition until this date and possibly longer.

Once opened, mustard will keep its freshness for 1 to 2 months at room temperature and up to a year if refrigerated continually.

Homemade mustard does not stay long, and the shelf life varies depending on the recipe, ranging from a week to many months.

Mustard TypesPantryRefrigerator
Mustard seed (dried, ground)2 to 4 years
Mustard seed (dried, whole)3 to 4 years
Mustard sauce (unopened) Any type (Dijon, yellow mustard, whole-grain, honey mustard, etc.)18 to 24 months, best by + 1 year
Mustard sauce (opened) Any type (Dijon, yellow mustard, whole-grain, honey mustard, etc.)1 to 2 months1 year
Homemade mustard1 week to 6 months

The dates shown above are just estimations. Some mustards have a longer or shorter shelf life. The actual shelf life is determined by the preparation technique and storage conditions. Always inspect for symptoms of deterioration before using.

Condition of Storage and Type

  • American mustard — When stored unopened and at room temperature in the pantry, this popular, mild mustard will survive for one to two years beyond the best-by date. It may be stored in the fridge for up to a year after opening.
  • Dijon mustard – Because of its greater vinegar content, an unopened Dijon mustard may be stored at room temperature for two to three years and refrigerated for one year after opening.
  • When left unopened in the cupboard, Chinese mustard can survive for one to two years. It may be stored in the fridge for up to a year after opening.
  • Honey mustard – When unopened, this honey-and-mustard combination may be stored in the pantry for two to three years and in the fridge for one to two years after opening.
  • Homemade mustard – It will only last a day at room temperature. However, depending on the packaging and contents, it can last from a week to a year in the fridge.
  • Dry mustard has a shelf life of one to two years at ambient temperature and infinite shelf life in the refrigerator.

How Long Will Powdered Mustard Last?

Powdered mustard, which is just crushed up mustard seeds, may be stored for up to four years. Mustard is stored in this manner to maintain and preserve its flavor for extended periods of time and use it as a component in cooking.

Is it true that homemade mustard spoils faster?

Yes, homemade mustard degrades more quickly. After creating homemade mustard, keep it in a refrigerator or freezer less than 40° Fahrenheit. If the mustard is left on the counter, it will lose flavor and begin to separate at a quicker pace.

The normal shelf life of homemade mustard is around two weeks, depending on the recipe. Without preservatives found in store-bought mustards, the shelf life of homemade mustard can be relatively limited. Some well-made mustards can keep for a year if properly bottled and chilled.

Is it necessary to refrigerate mustard once it has been opened?

Mustard is a non-perishable food. As a result, storing at ambient temperature is adequate. Refrigeration, however, keeps the flavor better, especially for Dijon mustard.

Refrigeration is preferable to storing it in the pantry if you are not a frequent user.

What Happens to Mustard After It Expires?

Mustard does not taste as delicious when it has aged. The older the mustard, the less flavor and spice it will have.

The taste of mustard oil, made by smashing mustard seeds, fades over time, and other substances that are blended with it separately.

Although mustard may last up to two years on average, certain outliers depend on the type of mustard.

Horseradish mustard, for example, should be kept in the fridge to maintain its peculiar flavor, as should strong-flavored mustards like Dijon mustard. The chart below depicts some of the various varieties of mustard and their specific expiry dates, based on how they are stored.

What Is the Difference Between Spoiled and Expired Mustard?

The presence of spoiled mustard indicates that the product should not be consumed. Mustard that has deteriorated does not taste nice, does not look appealing, and does not smell properly. Mustard may potentially provide a health danger if consumed. Thus it’s better to avoid it.

Although expired mustard may not be at its peak, it should be inspected for deterioration. Producers have no means of knowing when a product will deteriorate. Thus the expiration date is given as a recommendation.

The “best by” date on the label is an estimate by the maker of when the food should be consumed for the best flavor, and it is not always a sign that it will go bad by that date.

Mustard Quality Problems and How to Solve Them

Here are some of the quality concerns you could encounter if your mustard has been opened for a while:

Separation. Simply giving the condiment a nice swirl will cure it. Separation is a normal and safe process, so you’re not “fixing” bad mustard or anything.

It’s drying out. It frequently happens if the container is left open for an extended period or if there is just a small amount of mustard remaining at the bottom.

Try combining some wine or vinegar ([WIKI]) to repair it. Begin with a teaspoon and add more as needed. Taste the mustard before using it; if the tastes don’t combine well, toss it.

Is it possible for mustard to spoil if it is not refrigerated?

Yes, if mustard is not refrigerated, it will deteriorate. After opening, the easiest approach to extend the time before it degrades is to place it in the fridge. Closed and sealed mustard can be stored at room temperature, but I recommend storing it in the refrigerator after the first use.

Mold and other germs will take considerably longer to develop in cold environments. Thus, keeping mustard in places with few temperature changes is recommended. Like chocolate, if mustard is continually heated and cooled, it can develop a strange texture and lose its flavor.

How Can You Tell If Mustard Seeds Have Gone Bad?

Like many other foods, mustard degrades in quality with time and can become bad. Begin with mustard seeds.

Dried spices, such as mustard seeds, are a long-lasting commodity. However, storing more than a decade old seeds in the cupboard is not smart.

Most likely, the seeds have lost their potency. A small amount should be smelled and tasted. If it no longer has that spicy kick, it’s time to get a new bottle.

Ground mustard can become clumpy and hard when exposed to air and moisture. To solve this, tap the bottle or use a chopstick to loosen it up.

A worst-case situation is when dampness allows mold to develop on-ground seeds. If this is the case, there is no need to keep it any longer.

How Can You Tell If Mustard Sauce Is Bad?

Regardless of the expiration date, you can tell if your mustard is rotten. All that is required is for you to observe modifications in its characteristics.


The first clue that mustard has gone bad is a noticeable color change. After a period, a little darker coating will usually form on the surface.

On the other hand, the mustard that has become brown or excessively pale is not edible. This suggests that certain changes in its composition have occurred, most commonly due to bacterial development.


If you detect a sour, decaying odor while opening the mustard packet, discard it immediately. Mustard has a spicy, distinct aroma that is easily identified, and any odor change indicates deterioration.


As previously stated, mustard separation or drying is not an indicator that it is spoiled. Cracks on the mustard surface indicate that the quality has deteriorated so badly that it is no longer worth salvaging. If you stir the mustard and don’t achieve a satisfactory outcome, you should purchase a new pack.


The final test is the change in mustard flavor. Stop eating it if you have a burning feeling on your tongue, additional bitterness, or acidity. Even if the other qualities of the mustard have not altered, it is still dangerous to consume.


Many individuals ingest moldy food without experiencing any signs of poisoning, even though it is quite dangerous. Keep in mind that any organic development on the mustard surface suggests the presence of germs.

It is not sufficient to discard the moldy portion and eat the remainder. The product is no longer edible if you observe black, green, or white mold.

Methods of Storage

Mustard seeds are the edible seeds of the Brassicaceae family’s mustard plants. It shares ancestors with wasabi, broccoli, horseradish, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.

To prevent misunderstanding in this article, the term “mustard” refers to the mustard condiment. Let’s start with mustard seed preservation.

How Do You store Mustard Seeds?

Keeping whole or crushed mustard seeds is comparable to storing other spices. We all enjoy spices. They fill our kitchen with a vivid and delectable aroma.

Everyone in the kitchen needs a designated shelf or rack. A bottle of mustard seeds should be kept if you have a spice rack or drawer.

If you don’t have one, store it somewhere cold and dry, away from dampness, heat, and sunshine. With regular use, a closet or cabinet appears to be an excellent location, as does any location that is not near a stove, window, sink, or dishwasher.

Another piece of advice is to use a dry, clean measuring spoon rather than scattering the seeds immediately into a hot saucepan. Excess moisture is a major adversary of ground mustard, causing the seeds to the cluster.

Mustard Sauce Storage

We’re aware that there are several mustard sauces available in the store. This spicy condiment is often shelf-stable, whether it be yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, or whole-grain mustard. It indicates we may securely store it at room temperature, open or closed.

Mustard should be stored in a cool, dry area away from heat and moisture. Your pantry or cupboard will suffice. Alternatively, if it is your must condiment at all times, leave it on the dinner table.

That’s easy to grab, and the shelf life won’t be an issue because it’ll be gone in a few months.

Avoid double-dipping, no matter how tempting it may seem! Remove the sauce with a clean spoon or utensils. Remember to seal the bottle after each usage firmly!

Is Mustard Freezable?

In theory, freezing mustard makes little sense because you can buy it all year, the price is reasonable, and the shelf-life in the fridge or pantry is sufficient.

If you freeze a whole bottle of mustard, the texture will alter after thawing. The thick, sedimentary component will settle to the bottom of the bottle, while the oil will float to the top. To combine the components, you can vigorously shake the container for a few minutes, but the product quality will be irreversibly harmed.

Nonetheless, for practical reasons, some women freeze tiny amounts of mustard. It’s far easier to throw a frozen cube of mustard in a blender for a sophisticated sauce than it is to pour a fresh, creamy dip with a spoon.

There are various methods for freezing tiny amounts of mustard. For example, take a baking sheet or aluminum foil and place a spoon or two of mustard at equal intervals. Then, gently store it in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours.

To preserve freezer space, put the mustard parts in an airtight container or zip lock bags after they have frozen. For more practical storage, use a muffin mold, ice cube trays, or tiny containers for baby food.

Avoid using the microwave to thaw mustard. Including the cube in the recipe or leaving it in a jar on the kitchen counter overnight is preferable. Otherwise, layer separation and deterioration are likely.


Mustard, both the seeds and the sauces, is inextricably linked to our cooking. Knowing how to store them correctly is critical to preserving their fragrant characteristic. Both are shelf-stable foods that don’t need to be refrigerated. Refrigeration, on the other hand, helps keep the flavor up to a year after opening.

Mustard seeds may be stored for 2 to 4 years, whether whole or crushed. Although the seeds seldom go rancid, the taste deteriorates over time. If you see mold, discolorations, off-odors, or a bitter taste, throw away any leftovers.


Editorial Staff

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