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The food coloring will add a precise, unique, and appealing color to your dishes. Using only a tiny bit of it is enough to transform your food’s appearance, so you end up with a vibrant palette even on your most boring meals. However, finishing the tiniest bottles of food coloring takes so long. And, the delay can leave you wondering, does food coloring expire? And the answer is,
Food coloring does not expire no matter how long you have it in your house. It uses synthetic ingredients that give it unlimited shelf life. Food coloring can change color and texture when you fail to store it well, but this doesn’t mean it’s expired.
Potentially, you have several tins of food coloring lying around your kitchen cabinet. You want to use it, but since it’s been there for several months or years, you wonder whether it will be OK. The different types of food coloring will show other expiration signs.
Some food colors can go bad within a week, while others will take ages. Stick around to know why this happens. Also, keep reading to learn more about food coloring expires, how to tell if it’s expired and whether you can use it at this point.
Why Does Food Coloring Has an Expiry Date
The food coloring comes with an expiry date, and the date can prompt you not to use it or throw it away because it has reached this date. However, this should not be the case.
Though food coloring has an expiry date, it does not expire. The primary reason why food coloring has this date is that it is a food item so that people will consume it. Usually, food manufacturers need to put an expiry date on all foods according to law.
Food coloring is similar to other food items like salt and sugar. They are printed with expiry dates but do not expire. The expiry date helps sellers supervise the inventory to sell the old stock before the new one.
Ingredients such as water, stabilizer, and other artificial components make food coloring. Therefore, you can use it even when the expiration date is passed.
The food coloring is good to go for longer if you store it well, even for a couple more years. However, the expiry date can suggest that its quality will diminish once it reaches the expiry date.
How to Know if Food Coloring Is Expired?
There is no proper way to tell whether food coloring has expired since, ideally, it doesn’t. However, you can spot changes over time, especially after the indicated expiry date.
The different food coloring changes in their unique ways since the ingredients that make them are different. They are all, however, safe for consumption. Let’s see how you can tell your food coloring is expired.
Liquid Food Coloring
Liquid food coloring is synthetic-based but with water. You only need a few drops of it, and your food color will pop, but you should balance the water amount. It is ideal for adding cake icing and thick dough.
This food coloring does not include ingredients that can make it expire. It can indefinitely last when you store it well.
If you want to use the liquid food coloring but are unsure whether it’s OK to use, check on the texture. It might become thick or hard if you fail to seal it well. Therefore, ensure that you fasten the caps well after use.
However, you can deal with the thickening or hardening in the liquid food coloring. Add several water drops to the bottle and shake it. You can conveniently use it after doing this.
Gel Food Coloring
Gel food coloring also lacks the expiration date even though it’s printed on it. The ingredients that make it cannot contribute to it expiring. Like the liquid food coloring, this one changes its texture when not stored well.
It will mainly become hard and, in some cases, dry, losing the gelly texture. To solve this, mix it with a few drops of hot water. This will most likely bring it to life when it is hard.
If the gel food coloring is dry, throw it away and purchase a new one. Also, if you notice a color change, you should replace it.
Gel-based food color will also not be safe to consume when there’s mold growing in it. Something dropping into the gel container causes contamination and will trigger mold growth.
Powdered Food Coloring
Powdered food coloring has an indefinite shelf-life. It hardly goes bad, unlike the gel and liquid-based food colors, since it does not have the wet ingredients that can dry or harden it.
You will want to ensure that you store the powder food coloring properly even after expiry. Also, please keep it away from things that might contaminate it and make it go bad.
Overall, It is the best option for long-lasting food coloring.
Paste-based Food Coloring
Like the other food coloring, the paste-based one will also not expire. However, You will notice a subsiding color change in it if it has stayed for long.
Also, the paste gets harder after the stated expiry date if you fail to keep it in the right conditions after use. Ensure you tightly seal the tin to keep contaminants away so it will serve you for long.
If it becomes hard, use hot water to revive how it feels. If the color keeps fading, it is time to replace the food coloring.
Homemade Food Coloring
The ingredients for making homemade food coloring are natural and food-based. You can make it using turmeric, blueberries, and beet, among other elements. These ingredients are prone to expiring, making your food coloring expire and even go bad.
Homemade food coloring is the best if you want a natural option to color your food. But, do not expect that it will serve you for long. Ideally, it can stay up to 2 weeks in the fridge. If you don’t seal it well, it can go bad within a few days of making it.
Also, ensure you clean the containers for storing homemade food coloring with soap and hot water. This will prevent contaminants from getting into the food color, so it lasts longer.
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Signs That Tell if Food Coloring Is Bad
You can tell that food coloring is on the verge of becoming obsolete when its color starts changing. Most food colors will have a bright appearance. However, when these colors diminish, or their concentration fades, it’s probably becoming bad.
Also, the lousy food coloring will be moldy, infecting the color. Food coloring like gel and paste-based ones will start getting hard and dry up, which shows that they are bad. The liquid food coloring, when bad, will have a thick consistency.
Most food colorings, when bad, will not be dangerous to use. However, they will have an unpleasant texture which you can revert by mixing with hot water.
Can You Use Expired Food Coloring?
While food coloring doesn’t exactly have a lengthy expiration date, it does go bad eventually. The good news is, that you can often still use expired food coloring, though it may not be as vibrant as when you first purchased it.
That said, there are some definite signs that your food coloring has gone bad. If the liquid is separated into different colors, it’s time to toss it.
Similarly, if the coloring has changed consistency and is no longer liquidy, it’s probably time to get rid of it. And finally, if the color has faded significantly, it will probably not be very effective in your baking or crafts projects.
But if you’re willing to experiment a bit, expired food coloring can still add fun and flair to your creations.
What Happens When You Use Expired Food Coloring
Unless you consume the homemade food coloring, the rest options are artificially made; hence will not bring any health issues. But, the liquid food coloring will not blend well in a recipe if they have overstayed.
When gel food coloring dries, using it in your food may form uneven color. Powdered food colors will work well even when expired; ensure you store it in a properly sealed container.
Some theories show that food colors can cause hyperactivity, cancers, and behavioral changes in people. However, this research is inconclusive, and the board responsible for food approval has already allowed the use of six artificial food colors.
Most food coloring does not cause problems for people. The primary issue is allergies to synthetic food colors, and the best solution is to seek a healthcare professional to discuss the situation.
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Tips to Store Food Coloring to Last Long
If you want your food coloring to stay for long, properly storing it is vital. Ensure that you seal the container containing the food color tightly after use. When air finds its way through the liquid, paste, or gel-based food colors, it will make them dry.
Also, before storing the food coloring on the shelf, check for any contaminants. Contaminants will cause mold growth, so you might have to throw away the food coloring before its best date.
You should keep food coloring away from sunlight and heat. Such triggers it to dry up and become dry. Ensure you place it in a cool and dark cabinet.
So, does food coloring expire? The food coloring will not expire even though it will have the expiry date, which is a legal requirement. It only becomes bad, which you can notice through color, texture, and consistency changes.
If your food coloring expires, as per the date indicated, you can use it, but you will notice a change in how it blends with food. It has no potential health effect other than on people with allergies.
Proper storage in an airtight container will ensure the food coloring lasts long.