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There’s no denying that hummus dips are a party staple. From formal dinner parties to a casual night with friends, this middle-eastern delicacy is a must-have.
But what do you do with the dip when the party's over? You stick it in the fridge, and after a few days in the fridge, you start wondering: How long can hummus last in the fridge before it spoils? And can it go bad?
All types of hummus are not the same when it comes to how long they will last after they are opened. From store-bought to homemade and everything in between, the rules vary.
If you love hummus as much as we do and will hate seeing any of the delicious hummus goodness going to waste, keep reading to learn some basics regarding the storage and shelf life of hummus.
How long does hummus last?
Some people feel too strongly about hummus. They can gobble up the gooey goodness for days without getting tired. If you’re one of those people, you must have asked yourself, ‘how long does hummus last?’. While you wish it to last for months, the truth is that there are only a few days of shelf life of hummus.
If the hummus is store bought, it has a chance of surviving a bit longer than homemade hummus. Store bought hummus has a longer shelf life because of its preparation in a sterile, germ-controlled environment. Another factor is the use of preservatives in the final product.
While a grocery store container of hummus can last up to 7-10 days in the refrigerator once opened, homemade hummus has only 4-5 days in the same conditions. You need to keep another point in mind. Once you open a hummus container, there must be the least cross-contamination from other foods to keep the dip safe in the refrigerator.
The same goes for a bowl of hummus you prepare at home. If you’re dipping your pita or pretzels directly into the bowl or jar, the chances of hummus going bad even inside the fridge are high. So, never dip directly into the container. Take out the portion you want to eat and store leftover hummus.
How to store hummus
According to the USDA, any perishable food item should not stay below room temperature for more than two hours. The storage rules are even stricter if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit — Discard the food after one hour to prevent the risk of bacterial contamination.
To keep a large batch of hummus intact, it’s ideal for making portions of the dip. Take out the portions you estimate to get eaten and put the rest in the fridge. The leftovers will last between 4 and 10 days (depending on whether you made the batch at home or bought it from a store).
Keep the leftover hummus in an airtight container in the fridge to prevent it from moisture and other kinds of contaminants. Moreover, you can even freeze the dip for later use (Details of freezing later).
How to tell if hummus has gone bad
Store-bought hummus always comes with a Best if used by date. These dates are different from an expiration date because they are not absolute. If you haven’t opened the container even after the Best if used by date, there are chances that the hummus will be fine once you open it.
The date is a recommendation from the manufacturer to consume the product before it goes bad. However, when it comes to unopened hummus, the rules somewhat change. Open the container and finish it right away to get any harmful effects.
Other than the best by dates, for both homemade and store-bought hummus, you can use your senses to judge the signs of spoilage.
Here are a few of the tell-tale signs that the product is going bad:
Has a bad smell
The first intuitive thing to do when you want to check if hummus is going bad is to smell it. When fresh and edible, hummus doesn’t have an odor unless there’s garlic or cilantro in the dip. Both these ingredients don’t have a bad smell, though.
If your hummus has a pungent or sour smell, it’s a clear indication that your hummus has started spoiling.
If you cannot judge by smell, the next step is to taste the hummus. If, by any chance, your hummus has a sour and fermented taste, it is a good indication it has spoiled. Fresh hummus doesn’t have a sour taste. Instead, it tastes mild and creamy.
The last and most obvious sign of spoilage after you should throw the hummus right away is the appearance of mold in the container. Do not even try to scrape out the mold and consume the rest. You will unknowingly contaminate the rest of the container.
Consuming food with mold can have serious side effects like diarrhea and acute liver disease, so never take risks with your health.
Can you freeze hummus?
Yes, you can freeze hummus. You only need to take it out of the original container and thaw it to use it. However, you may find flavored hummus having a slight change in flavor after thawing compared to plain hummus, but that doesn’t mean that the flavored hummus has gone bad.
If you haven’t opened the container, you can freeze it for later use. Sealed containers can stay fine for up to four months when frozen. However, opened containers or homemade Hummus have different rules for freezing. You cannot just directly put the opened containers in the freezer because once thawed, you cannot stick the hummus again in the freezer.
If you freeze the hummus, you will be risking cross-contamination. So make small portions of the homemade hummus dip either in zip-lock bags or spread the dip on a parchment paper in small quantities and freeze it.
Once frozen, transfer the hummus to an airtight, freezer-safe container like zip-locked bags for later use. This way, you can take out small portions and thaw the frozen hummus instead of thawing a whole batch that you can’t refreeze.
How long can hummus be left out?
Store bought hummus can stay out at room temperature for almost 4 hours because it has preservatives. However, if you have made your own hummus at home, you can keep it out no more than 1-2 hours, when the room temperature is below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If the temperature is above the allowable 90 degrees limit, do not use hummus left out for an hour. Bacterial growth increases quickly at such high temperatures, leading to issues like food poisoning.
So, if you want to stick to a healthy eating pattern, stick the hummus inside the fridge as soon as you eat a portion. For the same reason, it is better to take out only the portion you intend to finish in a single meal.
However, you may encounter situations like a party where you cannot control the amount of hummus staying outside the fridge. So, it is better to discard leftovers after people leave.
Can old hummus make you sick?
Once you establish that the hummus has started going bad, it’s simply a bad idea to consume it. Hummus that has started fermenting due to contamination or high temperatures can cause food borne illnesses.
Two of the most harmful pathogens old hummus can carry are Salmonella and Listeria. Both of these pathogens cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. However, if you have followed the storage guidelines, it is unlikely to get an infection from consuming hummus.
How to store homemade hummus
You can store a batch of homemade hummus in airtight containers. Make sure that the lids of the containers are completely sealed before you refrigerate them. While airtight plastic containers are acceptable for storage, glass containers with airtight seals are better.
To increase the prevention from the air, keep a sheet of cling wrap on the container before tightening the lid. Additionally, drizzling some olive oil on the top layer of hummus will create a barrier from the air even if the caps are not properly tightened.
Once you follow all these steps, put the homemade hummus inside the fridge. You can consume this Hummus for up to 4 to 5 days. However, after you take the Hummus out of the refrigerator, make sure to put it back within an hour.
Similarly, you can freeze the homemade hummus, distributed in portions. Remember, refreezing any hummus is not an option, so small airtight portions are the best bet.
Hummus is a Middle-Eastern dip that you can enjoy with pita or as a sandwich dressing. The chickpeas base makes it a healthy option loaded with fiber.
However, storing this rich, creamy dip can be tricky, and you can easily end up spoiling it.
So, make sure you keep it in the fridge once you open the jar or freeze large batches into small portions for later use.