Mustard seeds are a culinary staple that can be used in cooking, pickling, and, of course, in whipping up the mustard sauce. These tiny round seeds are commonly utilized in Indian, Western, and other cuisines.

Mustard is unquestionably one of the most widely used condiments on the planet.

But the question is: is it true that mustard spoils? What about mustard seeds, for example? Is it safe to roast or pickle mustard seeds that have been sitting around for a while?

In any case, don’t be concerned! Stay on this page as we take a closer look at mustard’s shelf life, storage, and warning signals of spoilage. We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for mustard seeds or mustard sauce!


Mustard is a condiment made from a plant’s seeds that share the same name. It can be created with water, vinegar, or even wine, as well as various spices.

As a result, many different types of products are available, and not all are the same color. Mustard has a sauce or pastes texture; its hue ranges from brilliant yellow to dark brown. The flavor is also distinct, ranging from sweet to peppery.

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

What is mustard made of?

Mustard is prepared with a combination of dried mustard seeds, salt, water, and another liquid such as vinegar, white wine, lemon juice, or even beer at its most basic level. The mustard seeds themselves come from a plant in the Brassica family that has beautiful yellow blossoms.

In the culinary world, white, brown, and black mustard seeds are all employed, with white and brown seeds being the most frequent for making the paste we all know and love known as mustard.

From the basic yellow mustard, a mainstay of American grill-outs, to earthier, spicy brown mustards with just partially ground seeds and a distinct texture, the human invention has resulted in some fairly diverse forms of mustard.

You can create mustard at home if you have a food processor and a few simple ingredients.

Is mustard free of gluten?

Mustard sauces are produced from mustard seeds, vinegar, wine, spices, and other components. These components are gluten-free by nature. However, this isn’t enough to guarantee that mustard is gluten-free at all times.

Cross-contamination is possible if it’s made in a facility that makes gluten-containing items. As a result, always double-check the allergy information on the label or contact the manufacturer for more information.

How do you know if mustard seeds are bad?

Like all other foods, mustard degrades in quality with time and can become bad. To begin, we’ll use mustard seeds. Mustard seeds, for example, are a long-lasting material.

However, storing seeds in a more than a decade-old cupboard is not a good idea. It’s possible that the seeds have lost their potency.

A small amount should be smelled and tasted. If the intense kick has worn off, it’s time to get a fresh 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 that dampness allows mold to grow on ground seeds. If this is the case, don’t waste further time with it.

What is the life span of mustard?

Dried spices, such as mustard seeds, do not spoil as quickly as fresh products. However, as time passes, they lose their aromatic profile. Mustard seeds, both whole, and ground, have a long shelf life.

They have a shelf life of at least 3 to 4 years for whole seeds and 2 to 4 years for ground seeds when stored properly.

The mustard sauce can be stored in squeezed tubes for up to 18 months and a glass jar for up to 24 months. Mustard seeds and mustard sauces both have a “best by” or “best before” date printed on the label.

You can consider them to keep in top shape until this date, if not longer if you store them properly. Mustard stays fresh for 1 to 2 months at room temperature after opening and up to a year if kept refrigerated.

Homemade mustard has a short shelf life, ranging from a week to many months, depending on the recipe.

Type of MustardPantryRefrigerator
Dried and ground seeds2-4 years
Dried and whole seeds3-4 years
Unopened sauce, Dijon, whole grain, honey mustard, yellow mustard, and others18-24 months or best by + 1 year
Opened sauce, Dijon, whole grain, honey mustard, yellow mustard, and others1-2 months1 year
Homemade1 week-6 month

The dates shown above are mere approximations. Some mustards have a longer or shorter shelf life. The actual shelf life is determined by the preparation technique and storage conditions.

Before using, make sure there are no signs of rotting.

Storage condition and brand

Heinz yellow mustard bottle

American mustard

When kept unopened and at room temperature in the pantry, mild mustard can last for one to two years past the best-by date. It can be kept in the fridge for up to a year after opening.

Dijon mustard

Due to its higher vinegar content, an unopened Dijon mustard can last two to three years at room temperature in the pantry and one year in the fridge once opened. 

Chinese mustard

When left unopened in the cupboard, Chinese mustard lasts one to two years. It can be kept in the fridge for up to a year after opening.

Honey mustard

This honey-mustard blend will keep in the pantry for two to three years if unopened and one to two years in the fridge if opened.

Homemade mustard

Homemade mustard will only last for one day at room temperature. However, depending on the packaging and ingredients used, it can stay anywhere from a week to a year in the fridge.

Dry mustard

Dry mustard can be stored for up to two years at room temperature and indefinitely in the refrigerator.

What is the shelf life of powdered mustard?

Powdered mustard, which is simply broken mustard seeds, has a four-year shelf life. Mustard is maintained in this manner to keep and preserve its flavor over time and to use as a cooking ingredient.

Is it true that homemade mustard spoils faster?

clear glass jar filled with brown liquid

Yes, homemade mustard degrades more quickly than store-bought mustard. After creating homemade mustard, store it in a refrigerator or freezer less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

The mustard will not only lose flavor if left on the counter, but it will also begin to separate at a faster rate.

The average shelf life of homemade mustard is two weeks, depending on the recipe. Without the preservatives found in store-bought mustards, the shelf life of homemade mustard can be rather limited.

When properly sealed and refrigerated, certain well-made mustards can last up to a year.

Is it necessary to keep mustard refrigerated once it has been opened?

Mustard is a non-perishable condiment. As a result, storing the product at ambient temperature is sufficient. Refrigeration, on the other hand, keeps the flavor better, especially in the case of Dijon mustard.

Refrigeration, rather than keeping it in the pantry, is a smart suggestion if you are not a frequent user.

What happens to mustard after it has expired?

Mustard just doesn’t taste the same after it’s been sitting about for a while. You’ll be able to taste less flavor and spice as the mustard gets older.

Over time, the flavor of mustard oil, which is made by smashing mustard seeds, fades, and other components are added with it separately.

Although mustard can survive up to two years on average, there are certain exceptions depending on the variety. Horseradish mustard, for example, should be kept refrigerated to preserve its particular flavor, as should strong-flavored mustards like Dijon mustard. 

What’s the difference between spoiled mustard and expired mustard?

Mustard that has been spoiled should not be ingested. Mustard that has spoiled does not taste nice, does not look appealing, and does not smell good.

Mustard may then provide a health concern. Therefore it’s recommended to stay away from it.

Even if the mustard is past its prime, it should be checked for deterioration. In actuality, manufacturers cannot know when a product will spoil. Thus, the expiration date is included as a guideline.

The “best by” date on the label represents the manufacturer’s best guess as to when the product should be consumed for the optimum taste, and it is not always a sign that it will spoil before that date.

Issues and fixes

If your mustard has been opened for a time, you may notice the following quality issues:

  • Separation. It’s as simple as giving the condiment a quick stir to correct it. Separation is a natural and safe process, so you’re not fixing bad mustard or anything.
  • It’s drying out. It frequently occurs when the container is left open for an extended period or when only a small amount of mustard is left at the bottom. To repair it, mix some wine or vinegar with it. Start with a teaspoon and increase as needed. Taste the mustard before using it, and if the flavors don’t work together, toss it out.

Does mustard spoil if it isn’t kept refrigerated?

Mustard in a glass jar, spoon and bowl. On dark rustic background

If you don’t keep mustard refrigerated, it will eventually spoil. 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 after the first use, I recommend refrigerating it.

Mold and other bacteria will take considerably longer to grow in cold environments, so it’s best to keep mustard in places with minimal temperature variations.

Similar to chocolate, if mustard is continually heated and then cooled, it can develop an odd texture and lose its flavor.

How do you know if the mustard sauce is bad?

Regardless of the expiration date, you can tell if your mustard is rotten. All you have to do is keep an eye out for changes in its characteristics.


A major color shift is the first indicator that mustard has gone bad. After some time, a little darker coating will form on the surface. Mustard that has become brown or turned excessively pale is not delicious.

That suggests it has undergone some changes in composition, most commonly as a result of bacterial development.


If you detect a foul, rotten odor when you open the mustard package, put it away immediately. Mustard has a strong, distinct aroma instantly identifiable, and any odor change indicates deterioration.


Separation or drying of mustard is not an indicator that it is spoiled, as I previously stated. Cracks on the mustard surface indicate that the quality has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer worth salvaging. If you stir the mustard and it doesn’t come out right, you should get a new pack.


The final check is the change in mustard flavor. Stop eating it if you get a burning sensation on your tongue, additional bitterness, or acidity.

Even if the rest of the mustard’s properties haven’t altered, it’s still dangerous to eat.


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

Throwing out the rotten half and eating the rest isn’t enough. The product is no longer edible if you observe black, green, or white mold.

How to store

Mustard seeds are the edible seeds of Brassicaceae plants. Wasabi, broccoli, horseradish, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are all close relatives.

Mustard seeds

Mustard seeds, whether whole or powdered, are stored similarly to other spices. Spices are something we all like.

They fill our kitchen with a vivid and delectable aroma. In the kitchen, everyone requires a designated shelf or rack.

A bottle of mustard seeds should be kept in a spice rack or drawer if you have one. If you don’t already have one, store it somewhere cold and dry, away from dampness, heat, and sunshine.

With frequent use, a cupboard or cabinet, or anywhere not near a stove, window, sink, or dishwasher, appears to be a good location.

Another piece of advice is to measure the seeds using a dry, clean spoon rather than scattering them directly into a hot pot. Excess wetness is a major adversary of ground mustard, causing the seeds to cluster together.

Mustard sauce

Wholegrain mustard in a jar on a table closeup

We’re aware that the store has a variety of mustard sauces. This spicy condiment is usually shelf-stable, whether it’s yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, or whole-grain mustard.

It signifies that we can securely store it at room temperature, open or closed.

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

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

Avoid double-dipping, as tempting as it may be! Remove the sauce with a clean spoon or utensils. Remember to seal the bottle tightly after each usage!

Is mustard freezable?

In theory, freezing mustard doesn’t make sense because it’s available all year, its price is reasonable, and it has a long shelf life in the fridge or pantry.

If you freeze an entire bottle of mustard, the texture will change when you defrost it.

The oil will float on top of the thick, sedimentary part, which will sink to the bottom of the bottle. You can vigorously shake the bottle for a few minutes to mix the contents, but the quality of the product will be irreparably harmed.

Nonetheless, some ladies freeze little amounts of mustard for convenience. It’s far easier to combine a frozen cube of mustard for a sophisticated sauce than it is to pour a fresh, creamy dip with a spoon.

Small amounts of mustard can be frozen in a variety of ways. Take a baking sheet or aluminum foil, for example, and place a spoon or two of mustard on it at equal intervals. Then, gently place 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 once frozen. For more practical storage, you can use a muffin form, ice cube trays, or small containers for baby food. A

void using the microwave to defrost mustard. It’s preferable to toss the cube into the dish you’re making or leave it in a container on the counter overnight. Otherwise, layer separation and spoilage are likely.


Mustard, both the seeds and the sauces, is an inextricable part of our cooking. To retain their aromatic profile, it’s critical to know how to store them properly. Both are shelf-stable and don’t need to be refrigerated.

Refrigeration, on the other hand, helps to keep the flavor fresh for up to a year after opening. Mustard seeds, whole or crushed, preserve for 2 to 4 years in the refrigerator.

The flavor of the seeds lessens with time, even though they rarely go bad. Any leftovers should be thrown out if they show indications of mold, discoloration, off-odor, or unpleasant taste.