Does Food Coloring Expire?

It’s hard to beat color splashes for adding a little pizzazz to your kitchen creations. Cakes can be transformed into masterpieces with food coloring, no matter what form it takes. A cake topper or a homemade play-doh topper can add whimsy to cupcakes, desserts, or homemade treats. 

Generally, you do not need much food coloring to get a vibrant color palette-you just need a tiniest amount. The food coloring can therefore be stored for quite some time. 

The package of food coloring you pulled out of the cupboard may be a few years old. The expiration date might not be on it. It looks in good working order when you open it up, but you wonder if it is safe to use. 

Is food coloring a perishable item? Colors that don’t have a risk of spoiling or going rancid can be stored indefinitely as long as they are properly stored. It is best to throw out food coloring if it has dried out or changed colors.

Find out how to detect a bad batch of food coloring and how to properly store it so it will last for years in your pantry by continuing reading. 

How Long Does Liquid Food Coloring Last?

By law, manufacturers have to include an expiration date on their products, even if the products are still safe to use. The dates on food can affect their shelf life, causing food poisoning, or they can cause other issues. 

Almost indefinitely – since liquid food coloring contains no perishable ingredients, it does not go bad. However, if the cap is not properly reattached after use, it may thicken or harden. 

Adding a few drops of very hot water to the bottle will help loosen any thickened liquid food coloring. If you add water to it, it will thin out again and you can continue using it. 

Verdict: Doesn’t have an expiration date if properly stored. 

How Long Does Gel Food Coloring Last?

Since gel food coloring isn’t made from materials that can rot or go rancid, it doesn’t have an expiration date like liquid food coloring does. As a result, gel-based food coloring can become hardened or brittle when not stored correctly. 

Adding hot water may bring it back to life, as with liquid food coloring. It is generally recommended to discard dried out gel-based food coloring and to replace it with a fresh one once it has dried. 

The color will also change over time, so you’ll want to toss it away. There are times when gel food coloring may become contaminated due to something getting into the container. Throw out any food coloring that has become moldy due to contamination immediately.

Verdict: If it hasn’t dried out you can use it. Check for mold and contamination. 

How Long Does Powdered Food Coloring Last?

How Long Does Powdered Food Coloring Last

Powdered food color is a good choice if you know you’ll be storing your food coloring for several months. As it does not contain any liquid, it can last almost indefinitely without drying out or hardening. 

It should be properly stored just like any other type of food coloring. As well, use it carefully so that it doesn’t get contaminated by other food products in your kitchen. A substance that gets into powder can cause it to grow mold and turn bad. 

Verdict: Powdered food coloring can be stored for long periods without drying or hardening. It will last virtually indefinitely if kept away from contamination and mold. 

How Long Does Paste-Based Food Coloring Last?

Since you already know that paste food coloring doesn’t have an expiration date, if it’s stored properly, it doesn’t have an expiration date either.

As with other food coloring products that contain liquid, there is the possibility of it drying out and hardening, or of the color changing over time. 

It may be possible to bring it back to life by adding a little hot water or it may be necessary to toss it if the color has completely faded. You can store it very well if you follow these tips. 

Verdict: If it is tightly sealed and not contaminated, it will last forever. 

How Long Does Homemade Food Coloring Last?

Getting creative in the kitchen is possible by making your own food colorings out of natural ingredients such as beets, turmeric, spirulina, blueberries, or spinach. 

There are alternatives to store-bought ones, however they offer a more natural alternative and are fun to make. Their lifespan is not as long as the packaged varieties. Making your own food coloring in small batches is definitely recommended. 

The shelf life of homemade food coloring in the fridge usually lasts about 2 weeks, since they are made from foods that can spoil. It is recommended that you write the date you made the product on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the container so you will know when it has expired. 

Verdict: This is a fun choice, but it keeps well in the fridge only for a couple weeks. 

Best Ways To Store Your Food Coloring

Best Ways To Store Your Food Coloring

It is very important that you properly store your food coloring after every use so that it lasts for the long run. The majority of food coloring colors come packaged in their own container, which is designed to keep them fresh. 

  • If you have liquid, paste, or gel food colorings, be sure to tightly seal the container since air can dry them out. 
  • Do not use an airtight container if one breaks.
  • You should also check the containers to ensure nothing has gotten inside that might cause contamination since moldy food coloring will need to be disposed of. You should always use a clean utensil when dipping into the container.
  • Away from sunlight and heat sources, keep your food coloring. Avoid storing it next to a heater or oven to prevent its heat from speeding up the drying process. Keeping it in a dark, cool place is the best option. 

What’s The Difference Between All The Types Of Food Coloring?

There are a few differences between food colorings, even though they are all concentrated and give you the opportunity to add beautiful colors to your kitchen creations. 

Small-batch baking and cooking calls for liquid food colorings, which are available in small bottles. You can buy them at the grocery store for an affordable price and they are great for lighter colors. 

Those who make large amounts of cake or icing using paste or gel food coloring are more likely to choose them over liquid food dyes. The color of these pastes can be more vibrant than liquid food coloring. 

Additionally, you can use the paste or gel color to color foods like white chocolate that might seize if you add water to them. In addition, they work well in buttercream and fondant icings since they won’t change their final texture. 

In addition, powdered food coloring can be used on items that need to remain dry after being processed. Coconut shavings or sugar can be colored using powdered food coloring. Likewise, it’s fantastic for gum paste and royal icing. It won’t be as vibrant as the others, so items like buttercream shouldn’t be used.

Final Thoughts

You can see that food colorings that are properly stored in a commercial setting do not expire. After each use, make sure the containers are tightly sealed and store them in a cool, dark cupboard away from direct sunlight. 

You will only be able to store homemade food coloring in the fridge for about two weeks. On a piece of masking tape, mark the date that you made the item and store it in an airtight container so you know when to use it. 

As long as you store it according to the steps above, you should be able to create colorful magic in the kitchen for many years to come regardless of what food coloring you use.

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