Does Thai Curry Paste Go Bad? (eventually, so you must . . .)

These days, Thai curry paste can be found on the shelves in most grocery stores and many pantries across the globe. But whether opened and in the fridge, or sealed in your kitchen cabinets, many of us have wondered does Thai curry paste go bad?

I decided to investigate and here’s what I learned:

Thai curry paste will eventually go bad once it’s opened and is freshest when used within 2 weeks, kept in the refrigerator. But should still be good for a few months. However, unopened Thai curry paste won’t spoil for 3 or more years.

But there’s a lot more to know about Thai curry paste and what some of the risk factors are that could accelerate spoiling. And in some cases, there can be a difference between green, red, yellow, and other types of Thai curry pastes.

So let’s keep going!

How long does Thai curry paste last unopened?

Most canned goods can be left for well over a decade when they’re stored properly.

This claim largely depends on the factory that sealed the jar, but it’s not uncommon by any means. Thai curry paste has been known to last for several years or more when it’s in an unopened jar.

If you leave your curry paste in a hot environment with high levels of humidity, you might not reach the same standards. However, you could still get a few years out of it. 

The best place to store Thai curry paste is in a cold or mild-temperature room with low levels of humidity. A kitchen pantry or cabinet with a door is perfect.


Moisture and heat create a breeding ground for bacteria.

The fact that the jar is airtight with a seal prevents bacteria from growing, but you still don’t want the contents to become gross and stale from excessive heat.

The two biggest concerns of leaving an unopened jar of Thai curry paste stored for too long are as follows:

  1. The metal of the jar can rust. If there’s humidity, rain, or other moisture that comes in contact with metal lids, then you’re likely going to experience rust. Unfortunately, it’s very dangerous when it gets into the paste.
  2. Punctures cause loss of pressure, and they ruin the airtight seal. If you’re going to eat an old jar of unopened Thai curry, you need to thoroughly inspect it to ensure that there aren’t any holes or puncture areas.

How long does Thai curry paste last once opened?

Once you open a jar of Thai curry paste, the expiration date gets a whole lot closer.

You should expect to get about two weeks of great flavor out of the paste before the flavor starts to decline.

Many types of Thai curry paste can last up to 4 weeks once opened, but it depends on the company and the contents.

But for testing purposes, I’ve had an opened jar of Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste in my refrigerator now for over 2 months and it’s just fine.

The first problem that you’ll notice with opened jars of Thai curry after the expiration date is that the flavor will go bad. It starts to taste flat, meaning the flavor seems to leave quite a bit. On the other hand, you might realize that it’s getting a bit bitter or unpleasant to eat.

Another problem is the fact that Thai curry paste has plenty of moisture inside.

This excess moisture makes for a lot of bacterial growth, so you should store Thai curry paste in the refrigerator within two hours of opening it. Like most other foods, this limit is set to prevent food poisoning.

On a side note, glass jars offer a better storage container for Thai curry paste than plastic cans and bottles.

Plastic will leach into the paste, causing a noticeable change in flavor. Since glass doesn’t leach at all, you won’t have a taste differential whatsoever.

Does Thai curry paste spoil or mold?

Thai curry paste is known to last for a very long time by most food standards, but it’s not completely immune to spoiling.

As I mentioned in the previous section, the flavor will be the first thing to go. This staling issue is the first part of the spoiling process.

Sadly, spoilage eventually leads to mold growing on the surface. But that can actually take months or even up to a year as long as you’re keeping it refrigerated.

Since Thai curry paste has so much moisture, it can grow chunks of mold that are entirely unsafe to consume. Some people prefer to remove the mold and keep using the paste, but this isn’t recommended for health purposes.

The good news is that you might be able to stretch the expiration date a bit further before the curry gets moldy or stale. 

Temperature and humidity-controlled drawers in refrigerators work wonders to prolong the life of canned and jarred food. Try storing your Thai curry paste in one of these drawers if you have it in your fridge.

In the end, it’s not recommended that you eat Thai curry paste one you notice a change in the flavor or the color of it. Although you might be able to work around the problem, food poisoning is an alternative result.

Is it okay OK to eat expired curry paste?

Thai curry that’s stored for several years will undoubtedly exceed the expiration date.

The date is usually an indicator of when you should throw it away once opened. You should be perfectly fine to eat expired unopened Thai curry paste as long as it’s stored correctly.

Remember the four key signs to know whether or not you should use opened or unopened Thai curry paste:

  1. Avoid it if it has rust on the lid or near the seal
  2. Don’t use it if there’s a puncture or hole anywhere on the packaging
  3. Stay away from Thai curry paste that has mold, even if it’s only a small amount
  4. As a last resort, try the smell test to see if it smells gross or fresh

Aside from curry paste, the other thing that confuses a lot of people is the coconut milk that often goes with Thai curry.

After all, there are cans of coconut milk, coconut cream, lite coconut milk, and all the stuff in the carton in the milk section.

Luckily, in a recent article, I break it all down simply and explore the differences. And yes, I also get into how long opened coconut milk from a can lasts in the fridge too.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do you store Thai curry paste after opening it?

Once you’ve opened up the can or jar of Thai curry paste, you must store it in a refrigerator immediately.

It’s very prone to mold and bacterial growth, so don’t leave it out on the counter for more than a couple of hours.

Seal the lid on the container tightly or place Saran wrap around the top and seal it off with a rubber band.

You should never leave Thai curry paste anywhere without a lid. Mold and bacteria can still get to it, even when it’s inside of a fridge.

The back of a refrigerator is usually the coldest, so you should try to leave the Thai curry paste there for the longest life. You could also leave it near the top, the bottom, or the side; Whichever is closest to the freezer.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about Thai curry paste and how long it lasts?

Thai curry paste is a delicious addition to all sorts of meals that can last for many years unopened.

Once you open the lid and break the airtight seal, you should store it in the refrigerator quickly. And while it will probably stay good for several months in your fridge, the optimum flavor will start to fade after 2-3 weeks.

Keep in mind that glass is the best material to store it in, but plastic won’t ruin it completely. But if you’re buying one of the brands with a plastic bag inside a plastic tub, you can extend the life in the fridge by scooping it into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything you should’ve learned from this post:

  • Unopened Thai curry paste can last for several years
  • Opened Thai curry paste lasts anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks
  • Thai curry paste can spoil and grow mold once it expires
  • Glass jars are the best storage container for Thai curry paste

Many people who love curry love both Indian curry and Thai curry.

But it’s easy to get confused and many have wondered what the differences are between the 2. It’s even more interesting when you realize just how much healthier one is compared to the other.

Luckily, I have a recent article that explored both of those cuisines and answers all the top questions.

Just click that link to read more on my site.

 

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

6 thoughts on “Does Thai Curry Paste Go Bad? (eventually, so you must . . .)

    1. Hi Carol

      Great question and thanks for being here. It definitely could be frozen. However, I don’t think I would just stick the jar in the freezer. That would make it hard to get out (especially if you’re buying those tiny Thai Kitchen brand curry pastes). What would work best would be to spoon 1-serving amounts into small ziplock bags or other airtight containers. That way when you’re ready for it you can just grab the amount you need for that session. Alternatively, you could use a small ice cube tray and just spoon a little into each cube. But to avoid freezer burn, I’d stick that whole tray in an extra-large ziplock bag.

      Hope that helps! Great question.

      Jeff

  1. I just froze serving amount of red curry paste into little zip lock bags and then all the little bags in to a larger bag to avoid freezer burn. How long will it last. I have read that frozen curry paste can last up to three months frozen but wanted to confirm.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Sally

      Freezer-burn is the biggest enemy to frozen curry paste. 3 months when the flavor would begin to decline and the freezer burn might start to set in; it won’t actually spoil in the freezer. Double bagging as you did is a great idea as that will keep them from getting freezer burn. I would think you could probably get 6 months at least doing it that way. Just look for the freezer burn as your way to tell. A little frost isn’t a big deal, but once they get covered in ice it’s time to toss them out.

      Thanks for the question!

      Jeff

  2. Cleaning out store cupboard and have found a packet of Tom Ka Paste which is dated August 2018. Is this still safe to use in my basmati rice. Thankyou.

    1. Hi Mary

      It should be fine. If anything, it will just have mellowed in flavor in which case you may want to add more than you normally would. That being said, I would check to make sure it’s never been opened. If it’s a paper packet, look for signs that it’s even gotten wet or been exposed to moisture. Then, once you open it, check it visually and give it a smell test too. I always say when in doubt, throw it out. But if it’s been kept well and never been opened, it is highly unlikely it’s gone bad.

      Thanks for being here!

      Jeff

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