Will That Food Coloring In Your Pantry Ever Expire?

Food coloring can be a useful ingredient to keep on hand in your kitchen. This simple addition can bring a boatload of aesthetic appeal to all kinds of main dishes, drinks, and desserts — from classic red velvet cupcakes to show-stopping beverages like spooky vampire's kiss cocktails. Since food coloring is not exactly an item that is used on the daily, however, you may be wondering if the bottles buried in the back of your pantry are still safe to use. The short answer is yes, but it may not have maintained its freshness.

Liquid food coloring, which is the most common and readily available type of food coloring, is at its most basic a combination of pigment, preservatives, and water or oil. Due to this mix of ingredients, it is very uncommon for food coloring to spoil in the way most foods do. Odds are, if you find an expired bottle of food coloring in your cabinet, it is still safe to use. That being said, the contents can still degrade in quality, making it unappealing. In order to keep your food coloring as fresh as possible for as long as possible, be sure to store it properly by keeping it in a cool, dry, dark space and by ensuring that the bottle lids are tightly fastened.

How to revive old food coloring

While food safety is not much of a concern with food coloring that has been sitting around, there are several factors to consider before using it in your cooking or baking. First and foremost, always check the bottles for signs of contamination, such as a bad smell or mold growth, as this indicates the presence of bacteria or fungus which can be unsafe. If all seems normal, then check for indicators of the coloring's quality. The most common issue with older food coloring is that the liquid will dry out, causing it to thicken or harden and rendering it difficult to use.

If you find that your food coloring has dried out, you don't need to toss it just yet. There is an easy way to bring the ingredient back to its original texture. All you need to do is add a very small amount of hot water into the bottle and combine. This will thin out the liquid and make it usable once more.