Paprika, being one of the all-time members of every spice drawer, often makes us think about the shelf life of spices.
Does paprika go bad? Paprika can last almost indefinitely if you store it properly. However, ground paprika will maintain its best flavor and taste qualities for up to 3 years. After that, it will start to lose its potency. In rare cases, paprika will ‘go bad’ as a result of bug contamination or mold caused by humidity.
Continue reading to learn all about the shelf life and storage conditions of ground paprika.
Can Paprika Go Bad?
If you are someone that gravitates toward milder spices, paprika might be your favorite. Being a versatile spice that you can use for a range of dishes, including soups, stews, sausages, and rice dishes, you probably don’t have to worry about it going bad.
But for people who have bought paprika and keep it in their spice drawer in case a recipe calls for it may want to know how long paprika lasts.
Does Paprika Typically Go Bad?
Spices don’t go bad in a way most foods do. What happens is they lose their flavor and potency. Especially with ground spices like paprika, the gradual deterioration of flavor is a common issue.
In specific cases, when you have exposed the paprika powder to such factors as humidity and moisture, you may see it getting moldy.
The shelf life and what exactly will happen to your paprika depends on the storage conditions.
Does Smoked Paprika Go Bad?
There are a few paprika types and smoked paprika is one of them. This is the paprika of choice of those who like to give their food a smoky aroma.
Smoked paprika, like any other type of this ground spice, will keep well for a few years if stored properly.
As in the case of other paprika types, smoked paprika won’t necessarily ‘go bad’. But it will certainly lose the intensity of its flavor over time.
Does Paprika Get Bugs?
When we say that paprika doesn’t ‘go bad’, by no means does it mean that it is guaranteed against such things as bug contamination.
In fact, paprika is one of the favorite spices of Cigarette and drugstore beetles. What makes bugs attracted to paprika and other spices made from peppers is that they have a lot to feed on.
If you didn’t know, paprika is one of the most nutrient-packed spices. This enough for bugs to leave in a jar of paprika for years.
You may be wondering how do they get there? You may keep your kitchen clean and the paprika stored in a tightly sealed jar. But the thing is, in most cases these bugs find their way into the paprika during the production process.
If you want to ensure that there are no bugs in your jar of paprika powder, put it in the freezer when you bring it home. A few days in the cold storage will kill all the bugs and eggs in your spices.
We do recommend inspecting your paprika closely before using it, especially if it is not a spice you use too often.
Bugs in paprika are of the size of a sesame seed. If you look closely, you will notice them.
If never knew that there is such thing as bugs in paprika and have always used it carelessly, don’t worry. While it is certainly not recommended to use bug-contaminated spices, know that it is harmless if you have used them unknowingly.
How Do You Store Paprika?
There are a few things you should keep your paprika away from.
- Humidity and moisture
- Heat sources
Although the aroma and flavor of paprika will gradually deteriorate no matter how you store it, exposing it to the abovementioned factors will only accelerate the process.
You should always store paprika in a cool and dry area.
Dryness is key as if even a droplet gets into your jar with paprika it will get all clumpy. Additionally, if you keep paprika somewhere humid, there is a high chance of it getting moldy as ground spices are good at attracting moisture from the environment.
You may think that if humidity affects paprika, then keeping it under sunlight will solve the problem. While the sunlight will do a great job at keeping the paprika dry, it will also cause the spice to quickly lose its flavor and aroma.
In addition to this, it will cause the color of paprika to fade. And you know that paprika is so popular for its rich red color it gives to dishes, don’t you?
Light affects paprika. This is why most manufacturers package it not in translucent glass or plastic jars but dark-colored containers or tin boxes.
No matter what kind of container you choose to store the paprika in, make sure to keep it tightly closed at all times. Not only this will prevent any bugs from getting into the spice but also prevent oxidation.
Contact with air will cause the paprika to lose its best qualities. Although you are recommended to keep all spices in airtight containers, with ground ones it is especially important. Their particles have a greater surface to interact with oxygen causing them to break down faster.
Lastly, keep your paprika away from heat sources, including the oven and the stovetop.
How Long Does Paprika Last?
In general, paprika comes with a ‘best by’ date printed on the jar. You should certainly look at this date before purchasing the spice.
However, you should always keep in mind that the ‘best by’ date is simply the manufactures estimation of how long the paprika will maintain its best qualities.
Paprika, and spices in general, are often considered non-perishable food items. Paprika is not eternal, but it does have quite a long shelf life.
If you provide all the necessary storage conditions for ground paprika, it will keep well for 2 to 3 years.
While it may still be safe to use after this period of time, the flavor and aroma may not be there. If you want your paprika really potent, you should get a new jar every 6 months.
You can store paprika in the refrigerator in a well-sealed container. Some people claim that refrigerating helps to maintain the freshness of paprika longer.
You can also freeze paprika. Doing this has multiple benefits. First, you keep your spices away from bugs. Additionally, you don’t need to worry about such things as humidity, light, oxidation, etc.
The only thing is, you need to properly wrap the container with paprika with food wrap and transfer it into a heavy-duty freezer bag.
You can transfer a small amount of paprika into a smaller spice jar and keep it in your kitchen cabinet for easy reach.
The freezer and the refrigerator won’t extend the shelf life of paprika as it simply doesn’t get any longer. Ground paprika can last almost forever anyway.
No matter where you keep them, spices do lose their potency over time.
How Long Is Paprika Good for After the Expiration Date?
The expiration and the ‘best by’ dates are something you should always check. However, know that your paprika will be good to use way past the dates indicated on the label.
There isn’t a specific estimation of how long ground paprika lasts past its expiration date as it all depends on how and where you have been keeping it.
So long as it is not moldy and there are no bugs in it, you can continue using it.
Signs That Paprika Has Gone Bad
If you want to know whether your paprika powder is good or not, here is what you can do.
Pour some of the powder on a light-colored plate to see if there are any bugs in it. If so, discard the powder.
If there are no bugs in the paprika, inspect the texture. Too many clumps in the powder? You may need to buy a new jar like the one you have has most likely been exposed to moisture or humidity.
Smell the paprika and taste it. If the flavor and aroma are there, go ahead and use it. If they are very mild, it is up to you to decide whether you will continue using the paprika or not.
What Happens If You Use ‘Expired’ Paprika?
Some foods, such as meats and dairy products, you should stay away from when they go bad. Spices, however, are not as dangerous when they are past the expiration date printed on the jar.
If you have accidentally used expired paprika, don’t worry. There is little to no chance that it will make you sick. What you may need to worry about is that your dish won’t turn out as rich-tasting as it would with fresh paprika.
Paprika that has been stored in a dry spice drawer and a well-sealed container doesn’t come with any health risks, even if it is already expired.