Is it safe to use food coloring past the expiration date? Let’s find out!
You may be wondering, “does food coloring expire?” We’ll show you how to know whether or not to use those colorful dyes or not.
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Do you like stocking up on food coloring for all your favorite holiday projects?
It’s easy to prepare colorful treats, like delightful cookie icing, and other fun items, such as colorful homemade playdough, when you have liquid food coloring at home.
However, you’re probably wondering if it’s going to expire on you, like many other food items.
After all, you don’t want to spend money on something that will expire too quickly, going bad to the point that you can’t use it.
You’ll be glad to know that food coloring doesn’t contain any ingredients known to expire, meaning it’s still typically good to use, even after the expiration date!
How Long Does Food Coloring Last?
When different foods and ingredients expire, it’s typically because they contain something that goes bad after an extended period, but that isn’t the case for food coloring.
It’s the kind of item you buy in bulk and hold at home in a cabinet until you’re ready to use it.
The reason that food coloring lasts for such extended periods is that it doesn’t contain raw ingredients or other additives that can spoil and make something go bad, therefore it continues to stay in usable condition for months at a time without getting nasty.
It’s made with artificial dyes, water, synthetic ingredients, and stabilizers.
You can use it to dye eggs for Easter, add color to your favorite cupcakes, or even complete other do-it-yourself projects without worrying about something going wrong.
Food coloring purchased at the grocery store typically has a long shelf life, with proper storage (such as kept at room temperature in a dark cabinet).
Does Food Coloring Go Bad?
Food coloring doesn’t typically go bad, but there are a few scenarios that you’ll need to know about in advance.
Storing your food coloring properly is the key to getting it to last longer while maintaining its color. If you’re storing your food coloring in extremely hot, humid temperatures, or in direct sunlight, the heat can alter the color.
While it doesn’t necessarily make the food coloring go bad, the color changes could make it difficult to use, especially if you don’t like the way the color looks at that point.
However, you can avoid running into this issue by following simple storage tips to preserve your food coloring and keep it in the best condition to use whenever you need it, whether you’re adding it to food or something else.
Does Gel Food Coloring Expire?
Like traditional food coloring, gel food coloring is another type of food coloring that typically doesn’t expire.
It only contains a handful of ingredients, including a bonding agent, a bit of sugar for the taste that it can bring to different ingredients, and the artificial colors that helps you color some of your favorite foods, such as cupcakes and cakes when you’re preparing them for special occasions.
For example, you might like to use red and pink food coloring in cupcakes made for Valentine’s Day and red and green for Christmas.
Because it doesn’t contain the types of ingredients known to expire, you shouldn’t have to worry about your gel food coloring going bad.
You can store it safely and use it as often as you’d like, likely even months after you originally purchased it from the store.
Why Does Food Coloring Have an Expiration Date on It?
Anything considered a food item intended for consumption needs to have some sort of expiration date on it, so food manufacturers are required to print one.
But that doesn’t automatically mean you can’t use your food coloring past the expiration date.
Because it doesn’t have food products or ingredients that can go bad, it’s generally safe to use it for as long as you want.
Some people buy it when it’s on sale and save it for years, continuing to use it in different recipes and projects when they want.
Can Homemade Food Coloring Expire?
Many people try to avoid synthetic food coloring and synthetic dyes, so they opt to make their own food coloring with natural color additives.
Homemade food coloring could expire, depending on the recipe you’re using to prepare it.
If you’re using ingredients that have the potential to expire at some point, you should label and date the container so you can use it before your homemade food coloring going bad.
If you make the food coloring yourself, be sure to store it properly in a sealed container in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks to preserve it.
The shelf life of natural food coloring will depend on the natural ingredients used.
If you’re cooking certain foods so they will release their natural coloring, then the resulting liquid could be susceptible to spoilage. Many people boil fruits or vegetables or other organic material to extract their natural food dyes, but this can lead to bacterial growth over a long time.
How to Store Food Coloring
Food coloring belongs in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place, so it’s best to put it in cabinets or the pantry to avoid extreme temperature changes.
You don’t want to have it too close to a heat source, such as your oven and stove because the heat can cause changes to the colors, so be sure to keep it in a cool place.
If you store your food coloring properly, you can expect it to last for years without any issues.
However, if you notice your artificial food coloring has changed appearance to slightly different colors, or if it’s dried up, it’s a good idea to discard it.
And of course, if you notice an odd smell or any kind of mold growing, you’ll want to toss it even if it’s not past the stated expiry date.
If in doubt, it’s best to play it safe by exercising your better judgment.
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