How To Properly Store Fresh Tamarind Pods

Tamarind is a sneaky little legume with a habit of popping up in cuisines from all over the world. Once you know where it's hiding, you'll find it everywhere, from Mexican candy to Pad Thai. But it's generally sold in the U.S. in paste form, and finding fresh tamarind pods isn't always easy. So when you do find these sour legumes, you want to make sure they're properly stored.

Tamarind pods contain seeds wrapped in soft pulp, which is what we eat. But this fruit-like pulp goes bad quickly — generally within a week. Think of tamarind as you would any other fruit: It's fine to store it on the shelf, uncovered, in its shell, as long as you plan on eating it within a few days. Warm weather will speed up the ripening process, so keep your tamarind in a cool place. But generally speaking, it's inadvisable to store tamarind pods in the pantry, as they will rot in no time. According to High Kitchen IQ, tamarind pods can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Other methods for storing tamarind

You can also pop the tamarind seeds out of their shells and store them in a sealed container in the freezer for up to a year, after which their flavor will begin to deteriorate. Another option is to keep the pods intact, tightly wrap them in plastic wrap or tinfoil, and freeze them in an airtight plastic bag. Because tamarind pods contain little water, they are unlikely to get freezer burn.

Fresh tamarind can also be preserved in salt to lengthen its life. Peel the pulp from your tamarind seeds and roll it out into small pieces. Fill each piece with salt, then roll it into a little ball and layer it in an earthenware container with more salt. It should keep for up to two years if stored this way.

You can also make your own tamarind paste with fresh tamarind to preserve its flavor for longer. Simply soak tamarind pulp in hot water for half an hour, then mash the pulp and strain it to get rid of tough fibers. Boil the remaining paste to sanitize it before storing it in the fridge for up to six months.

It should be clear if your tamarind has spoiled, as the sour smell and slimy texture will likely tip you off. So be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place no matter what.