Can I eat expired ginger paste?

Ginger paste, also known as ginger garlic paste, is a blend of fresh ginger, garlic, and a bit of oil blended into a smooth paste. It’s a handy ingredient to have on hand and can be used to add flavor to many dishes. But what if you discover an old jar of ginger paste lurking in the back of your fridge or pantry—is it still safe to use after the expiration date has passed?

What is ginger paste?

Ginger paste consists of freshly grated or pureed ginger mixed with garlic, oil, and sometimes salt and other seasonings. The ginger and garlic are pulverized together into a smooth, spreadable mixture.

The oil helps to prevent the ginger and garlic from drying out and keeps the paste soft. Olive, vegetable, sesame, or coconut oil are commonly used. Salt and spices like cumin or pepper may be added as well.

Ginger paste can be readily found in the aisles of most grocery stores, usually near other curry pastes and jarred ingredients. It’s also easy to make fresh at home.

Why is there a best-by date on ginger paste?

Like many other perishable foods, ginger paste comes marked with a best-by or expiration date on the jar. This date indicates how long the manufacturer deems the product will remain at peak quality and flavor.

The printed date is based on storage at room temperature and is intended as a general guideline, not an exact expiration date. Unopened ginger paste stored properly may remain usable for some time beyond the printed date.

Some factors that contribute to ginger paste’s shelf life include:


Fresh ginger root and garlic do not have an indefinite shelf life. Over time, the quality of the pureed ginger and garlic in the paste will deteriorate.

Moisture content

The moisture content of the paste can impact its longevity. If not enough oil is used, the grated ginger could dry out faster.


Some brands of ginger paste contain preservative additives like citric acid which help extend shelf life. Preservative-free pastes may have a shorter lifespan.

Storage method

How the ginger paste is stored after opening has a significant impact on how long it will last. Proper refrigerated storage helps slow the growth of bacteria and mold.

How long does ginger paste last after expiration?

How far past its printed date ginger paste remains usable depends on variables like storage conditions and whether the jar has been opened or not. Here are some general guidelines for maximum shelf life:

Unopened ginger paste

If the seal on the jar remains intact, unopened ginger paste can sometimes last up to 1 year past its printed expiration date when stored at room temperature. For maximum shelf life, store in a cool, dark pantry. Refrigeration can extend the shelf life further to up to 2 years past printed date.

Opened ginger paste

Once opened, ginger paste should be refrigerated. Opened paste stored in the fridge is generally safe to use for up to 6 months past the printed date. Transfer paste to an airtight container and make sure there is no mold growth before using.

How to tell if ginger paste has gone bad

Because the printed expiration dates are rough estimates, it’s important to assess the quality and safety of ginger paste by examining its appearance, aroma, and flavor. Here are signs that ginger paste has spoiled and should be discarded:


– Mold growth – appearance of fuzzy green or white mold, either on the surface or below. This is a clear sign the paste has spoiled.

– Dry texture – properly stored paste should remain smooth and spreadable. If the paste seems very dry and clumpy, it may be expired.

– Separation of oil – fresh ginger paste has a uniform consistency. If the oil appears separated, it is a red flag.


– Rancid odor – expired ginger paste may smell rotten, moldy, or strangely bitter instead of its normal fresh, pungent aroma.

– Very faded aroma – if the paste no longer smells strongly of ginger and garlic, it is past its prime.


– Bitter taste – stale ginger paste will typically taste unpleasantly bitter rather than zesty.

– Musty or soapy flavor – a musty or soapy aftertaste indicates spoilage.

– Loss of pungency – the compounds that give fresh ginger its spicy kick can deteriorate over time. The paste should taste potent.

What are the risks of eating expired ginger paste?

Eating spoiled, expired ginger paste could potentially cause foodborne illness. Here are the main risks:

Food poisoning

Consuming ginger paste contaminated with harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Staphylococcus can lead to food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and cramps. Mold growth can also cause illness.

Allergic reaction

Expired ginger paste may trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. Compounds like histamine can increase as foods deteriorate.

Digestive issues

The compounds responsible for ginger’s pungency can break down into irritating acids like shogaols with prolonged storage. Ingesting rancid ginger paste could cause mouth irritation, stomach pain, nausea, or heartburn.

Can you get sick from eating expired ginger paste?

Eating ginger paste a short time past its printed expiration date is unlikely to make you sick, as long as it was properly stored and shows no signs of spoilage. Sickness is more likely to occur if the ginger paste shows signs of mold, rancidity, or bacterial overgrowth.

Consuming ginger paste well beyond its expiration could potentially cause illness, depending on storage conditions. However, you are more likely to notice the poor flavor and texture of an expired paste before it makes you sick.

Those more vulnerable to complications of foodborne illness, like the very young, elderly, pregnant, and immunocompromised, should take extra care to inspect ginger paste closely and throw away any that seems at all degraded. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard outdated ginger paste.

How to store ginger paste correctly

Proper storage is key to maximizing the shelf life of ginger paste after opening. Here are some tips:

– Refrigerate – Keep opened ginger paste in the fridge in an airtight container. Refrigeration inhibits mold growth and slows the pace of chemical changes.

– Minimize air exposure – Limiting air exposure by storing in an airtight container prevents oxidation and drying out.

– Check for mold periodically – Check for signs of mold growth like fuzzy spots or white film on the paste before using. Discard at first sign of mold.

– Use clean utensils – Always use clean utensils when scooping out paste to prevent introducing bacteria. Don’t return used utensils to the paste jar.

– Watch for changes in texture and aroma – If the paste seems excessively dry, Separated, or smells rancid, it should be discarded.

Can you freeze ginger paste?

Freezing is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of fresh ginger paste. Here are some freezing tips:

– Store in airtight containers leaving headspace to allow for expansion during freezing. Glass jars or freezer-safe plastic containers work well.

– Portion paste out into small containers rather than freezing whole jar to minimize air exposure when opening repeatedly.

– Apply plastic wrap directly on the surface of the paste before sealing lids to prevent freezer burn.

– Label containers with date and contents before freezing.

– Defrost frozen ginger paste overnight in the fridge before using.

– Use within 4-6 months for best quality and flavor.

Properly frozen ginger paste maintains its texture and potency for baking, marinades, curries, and other uses. Freezing can keep the paste usable for up to a year past its printed expiration date.

How to tell if frozen ginger paste has spoiled

Signs that previously frozen ginger paste has spoiled and should be discarded include:

– Unusual dry or spongy texture – properly defrosted paste should be smooth and spreadable

– Mold growth – visible mold is a sign of spoilage

– Rancid odor – paste should maintain its characteristic fresh ginger aroma after defrosting

– Change in color – significant darkening or unnatural colors indicate the paste is oxidized

– Poor flavor – the paste should taste pungent when defrosted, not soapy or bitter

As long as frozen ginger paste is defrosted properly in the fridge and used soon afterwards, it typically lasts up to a year in the freezer before quality deteriorates. Always inspect the appearance, smell, and taste before using defrosted ginger paste.

Substitutes for ginger paste

If you discover your ginger paste is expired and needs to be tossed out, here are some handy ingredient substitutes:

– Fresh grated ginger – Use about a 1:1 ratio of freshly grated ginger root. May need to increase other liquids slightly to account for less oil.

– Minced ginger – Double the amount of minced fresh ginger compared to the paste quantity.

– Ground ginger – Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger per tablespoon of paste called for. Add a little oil to compensate for the missing garlic.

– Garlic paste – Substitute pre-made garlic paste and add extra ground ginger and oil.

– Ginger powder – Use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per tablespoon ginger paste. Doesn’t provide the allicin in garlic but works in a pinch.

– Onion and garlic powder – A blend of onion and garlic powders with extra ginger powder mimics the flavors.

Be aware substitutes may alter the moisture level or intensity of flavor compared to ginger paste. You may need to tweak other seasonings to achieve the intended taste.


Ginger paste that has been continuously refrigerated and is not too far past its printed expiration date is generally safe to consume. However, it’s important to evaluate the paste closely for any signs of spoilage like mold, rancid smells, or separation before use. Discard paste at the first sign of degradation, especially if you have a compromised immune system.

With proper refrigerated storage, opened ginger paste can remain usable for up to 6 months past its expiration date. For maximal shelf life, freeze excess paste in airtight containers. Properly frozen ginger paste stays potent for up to a year past its printed date.

Substituting freshly grated ginger, garlic paste, or ginger and onion powders can work in a pinch if you don’t have any usable ginger paste on hand. Being vigilant about proper storage methods, checking for visual and aromatic clues of spoilage, and using your best judgment can help minimize the risks of consuming expired ginger paste.

Leave a Comment