Paprika is a delicious smoky spice that deserves a spot in everyone’s spice rack.
However, like with most spices, you only use a small amount at a time. This will leave you with a bottle of spices sitting in your spice rack for a long while.
So, does paprika go bad?
Paprika has a very long shelf life and, if stored correctly, can last 2-3 years.
Many spices have a lengthy shelf life, which can almost be endless if they are stored correctly. We are here to show you how to do that.
In this article, we will be learning a bit more about paprika and give you some tips on how to keep it fresher for longer.
Read on to find out more.
What is Paprika?
Paprika is a spice made from dried and ground chili peppers, most commonly capsicums. The chilis used are milder with thinner flesh, making paprika milder than other dried spices.[*]
It originates from wild ancestors in North America and Central Mexico, but it has become popularized all over the world. Today it is America’s most used spice.
The spice comes in regular and smoked varieties. The spice level varies between brands, but it is generally on the mild side.
Paprika is used to add spice and a smokey flavor to a dish, as well as an attractive red color. It is also a common garnish, especially for eggs.
The dishes that commonly use paprika are rice, stews, soup, goulash, and chorizo.
Does Paprika Go Bad?
Paprika has an almost indefinite shelf life but is at its best for 2-3 years.
So now that we know let’s look at what fresh paprika should be like.
Fresh paprika will be:
1. Bright Fragrance
What does paprika smell like? The first thing you will notice when you open the bottle is the spicy fragrance of the paprika.
It will be subtle but pleasant.
2. Spicy and Full of Flavor
The flavor of spices is more robust when toasted, but even raw, you can taste it to test freshness.
It will taste slightly spicy and a little earthy with a hint of smokiness.
3. No Clumping
Well stored spices will have no residual moisture in the container, or it will promote bacteria growth.
The spice should sprinkle easily and move loosely within the bottle.
4. Bright Red Color
Due to the capsicums used to make paprika, it will have a bright red color.
When it is fresh, the color will be very vibrant.
How Can You Tell if Paprika Has Gone Bad?
Alright, so now that we know what fresh paprika looks like, what about when it’s past its best?
So, if your paprika has gone bad, it will be:
1. Clumping Together
The first thing you might notice is the spice clumping up and looking a bit wet.
This may indicate that some moisture has gotten in and caused mold to grow. If this happens, you should discard the paprika but save the jar so you can refill it.
If the mold is visible, it will be white and fluffy.
2. No Scent
As spices get older, they lose their potency, leading to a loss of fragrance.
When you open the bottle, you will notice little to no smell.
3. Less Spicy and Flavorful
The most definitive way to tell that your paprika has gone off is to taste it.
The flavor will be very weak, and the spice level will decrease significantly.
4. Dull Color
When your paprika gets older, it will oxidize, causing the color to change.
Old paprika will have a dull red to brown color.
How Long Does Paprika Last?
The shelf life of paprika is 2-3 years if it is stored in the way we suggest below.
Due to the fact that it is dried, paprika has a very long shelf life.
The best before date on dried spices like paprika indicates the level of heat and freshness rather than it actually going bad.
Bottom line: CAN expired paprika make you sick?
This means that you can use your paprika after its use by date without getting sick.
You can even use paprika that is older and has a weaker flavor, but you will need to use more to make up for it.
What is the Best Way to Store Paprika?
So, as we said before, the shelf life of paprika relies upon how well you store it.
The best way to keep paprika fresh is to keep it away from air, light, and heat exposure.
Follow these instructions to keep your paprika fresher for longer:
1. Keep it in its original packaging.
Usually, when you buy spices, they will come in clear glass bottles with tight-fitting caps. These are perfect for storing paprika.
However, if you buy a spice refill in a box, we recommend transferring it to a glass jar.
Glass is ideal for storing spices because it is more airtight than plastic and will not stain with prolonged use.
2. Place in a dark cupboard.
Exposure to light for a long period of time will degrade the paprika more quickly.
If you store your spices in a spice rack, we recommend placing them away from windows and direct sunlight.
Ideally, paprika and other spices should be stored in a dark, cool cupboard or pantry.
3. Keep away from heat.
It may be convenient to keep your spice rack next to the stovetop for easy access, but we do not recommend this.
This will cause your paprika, and other spices, to degrade much more quickly.
If you store your paprika in a cupboard, ensure it is not one that sits near the stove.
Can you use expired paprika?
It is perfectly safe to use expired paprika.
As we mentioned, an expiry date merely indicates that the spice is not as high quality as it was when you bought it.
In a pinch, you can still use your paprika without the risk of it making you sick.
What color should paprika be?
Since paprika is made from red chili peppers, the spice will be a bright but deep red.
If the color dulls (paprika turned brown) at all , then this is a sign that your paprika might be past its best.
What can I use instead of paprika?
Sometimes a recipe calls for paprika, and you’re all out, so what can be used instead?
We suggest using cayenne pepper because it is also a spice made from dried chili peppers.
However, cayenne pepper is much spicier than paprika, so use half the amount of the paprika indicated in the recipe.
Does paprika go bad? Paprika is a handy spice to have in your spice rack, and now you know so much more about it.
So what can we take away from this?
- Paprika will last 2-3 years if stored correctly.
- Keep away from light, air, and heat.
- Expiry date indicated heat and level of freshness rather than that it is off.
We hope this has given you the push you need to give your spice rack an overall and see what you need to restock with.