Does Ghee Go Bad? The Ultimate Guide

The popularity of ghee has been on the rise recently due to its nutritional benefits and versatility in cooking. If I’m being honest, I have only recently discovered its existence. I kept seeing it in other peoples’ kitchens, so I got curious and decided to try it out. Needless to say, I now know why ghee is loved so much!

Ghee is a staple in Indian cuisine and has lately gained popularity elsewhere. It is a clarified butter that is more concentrated in fat than the regular butter we are used to. This is because, in ghee, the water and milk solids are removed. You can either make it at home from scratch or find it at the store. 

Ghee has a diversity of uses. It could be added or melted over roasted vegetables, used as cooking oil, added to stews, drizzled on popcorn, etc. That is why it’s not surprising that many people add ghee to their grocery list. 

If you use your ghee occasionally, the jar might sit in your storage for a while. But how long can you keep it there? Does ghee go bad? 

To answer these questions, let’s dive into knowing more about ghee. Then, maybe you’ll no longer find yourself baffled at whether you should use it up quickly before it goes bad or keep it safe and sound in your storage.

Does Ghee Go Bad?

I’ve seen the same jar of ghee in my friend’s fridge for over a year. She doesn’t use it much, and lately, she has been avoiding it on purpose because she’s worried it might have gone bad. So instead of taking a look at it, she decides to keep it cozy in the fridge.

I’ll tell you from now, ghee doesn’t last forever. It can have a good shelf-life, though, if you take good care of it. Generally, compared to other dairy products, ordinary butter tends to last pretty long. And since ghee has no milk solids, it even keeps better than butter. Ghee can go bad, though. It could just take a while. If you store it correctly, you can prolong its shelf-life and prevent it from spoiling quickly. 

How Long Does Ghee Last?

So, how long can you keep that container of ghee before things start to go south? The shelf-life of your ghee depends on how you store it. If you store it well and at a stable temperature, ghee won’t go bad for a couple of years.

How long ghee lasts differs depending on who you ask. Some might say that ghee can last up to one year after opening, while others might suggest three months for top quality. If you take good care of the ghee, you can extend its shelf-life.

If you buy your ghee from the store, you’ve probably seen a “best-before” date on the label. When your ghee passes that date, there might be no need to toss it out immediately. This date indicates how long the manufacturer guarantees the best quality of the ghee. It is not about the safety of the product. 

Ghee’s best-before date is usually around a year to two years. If you take care of it, ghee will remain safe to eat and will retain its quality for a couple of months after that date. Always make sure to check for signs of spoilage before use.

In terms of quality, an unopened jar of ghee could last up to its best-before date if it is appropriately stored in the pantry. If an unopened jar of ghee is properly stored in the refrigerator, it can last around three to six months after the best-before date.  

For the best quality, use the refrigerated ghee within six months after you opened it. The pantry stored opened jar of ghee should be consumed within three months.

How to Store Ghee

Some people store their ghee in the pantry, some in the fridge, and some in the freezer. There is conflicting information online as to how exactly you should store ghee.

Most commonly, ghee is stored in the pantry or the fridge. However, different manufacturers have different recommendations regarding its storage. Many manufacturers suggest keeping the container at room temperature in the pantry since ghee does not require refrigeration. Storing it in the fridge, though, helps it retain its quality for longer.

The best way to store it depends on your circumstances, what you intend to do with the ghee, and how long you expect to keep it. I use the clarified butter primarily for pan-frying, so for me, keeping it in the fridge is best.

If you use your ghee as a spreadable, keeping it in the pantry is more convenient. Keeping it at room temperature will allow it to spread more easily on your sandwiches. If you use ghee for this purpose, your container probably doesn’t last long.

The period in which you will have and use your ghee also indicates the best storage method for you. If you use your ghee often and finish your jar within three to six months, room temperature could work. For anything longer, it is better to store it in the refrigerator.

If your jar is unopened, you can store it in the pantry, and when you open it, you can then stick it in the fridge. The refrigerator is always a better long-term storage option than the pantry. 

Where ever you end up storing your ghee, make sure it is in a dark place far from direct sunlight temperature (think kitchen cabinet). Also, ensure that the lid is on tight and that the environment is not too humid.

If your ghee is homemade, make sure to place it in a heatproof glass jar. Once it’s cool, seal the lid, label it with a name and date, and store it as you wish.

Can You Freeze Ghee?

So, we already know that ghee lasts pretty long, especially in the fridge. But, let’s say you bought ghee in bulk, and now you’re worried that the jars will go bad before you get the chance to use them. What do you do? Can you freeze them?

Yes, freezing ghee is a storage option too. Freezing ghee will keep it safe for consumption for longer, about a couple of years, but you might lose some of its quality over time. That is one of the reasons why it is often the last storage option.

Storing ghee in the freezer is quite simple. Start by splitting the ghee into small freezer-safe containers. Do not keep the ghee in a glass container that is not marked as safe for freezing. Aside from a secure container, you can put the ghee in freezer bags, but if you’re planning to keep it in the freezer for months, make sure to double wrap it to prevent freezer burn. When you split the ghee, make sure that the quantity is enough for at least a week but not more than 2 to 3 months. Secondly, make sure to label your container or bag with the name and date. Lastly, stick that ghee in the freezer. There it is-frozen ghee.

When you’re ready to use the ghee, thaw it by transferring the container from the freezer to the refrigerator and leaving it overnight.

How to Tell if Ghee Has Gone Bad

If you’re a ghee connoisseur, you’ve probably never had ghee long enough to where it turns bad. But, if you don’t use ghee too often and have had your jar way past its suggested shelf-life, you no longer will be asking yourself if ghee goes bad, but instead if your ghee has already gone bad.

To know if ghee has gone bad, you’re going to have to use three out of your five senses. Look for any changes in the smell, color, and taste. 

Like oils, ghee can become rancid due to storage for too long in less-than-ideal conditions. A sour smell or taste, with an absence of the fresh nutty flavor of ghee, could indicate rancidity. 

If you open a jar of ghee and you are hit by a smell that seems off, it might either be rancid or there’s something else going on. Rancid ghee’s odor is quite distinct and replaces the usual milky-sweet smell. So give your suspicious ghee a simple sniff test, and if it passes, you can keep it. 

Aside from the sniff, take a good look at your ghee. Examine it for any mold on the surface or discoloration. Due to oxidation, the color of ghee turns to stark white when it becomes rancid. Mold or discoloration might be present usually do to being inappropriately sealed.  

With the changes in smell, color, and taste, it’s safe to say the quality of ghee isn’t there anymore. Therefore, it is always best to throw out ghee that has gone bad, especially if there’s mold or smells horrible.

Can You Get Sick From Eating Expired Ghee?

You might have a jar of ghee that has long expired. Would consuming it make you sick, or is it safe to eat?

It is always suggested to throw out expired ghee. However, if it doesn’t seem to have gone rancid or moldy, you are not likely to get sick from consuming ghee after the expiration date. On the other hand, if the ghee you have at hand has clear visible signs of built-up mold, you can get sick from ingesting it.