Do Sprinkles Expire? Oh Yes, They Do!

Time to check your pantry for that lost jar from the 4th grade bake sale.  

As my roommate and I were brainstorming potential edible gifts to give to our neighbors, the question came to my mind: Do sprinkles expire? My memory shot back to the sprinkle container that I remember resting in my mom's spice cupboard for probably half of my childhood. I'm confident that the sprinkles were used once for a birthday party or bake sale and then forgotten about until we found them years later and quickly tossed them out.

I'm sure a similar situation has occurred to many moms and amateur bakers. At some point in time, you need sprinkles for some special baking project, and then you don't reach for those sprinkles ever again. Unless you're an avid baker, the jar of sprinkles sitting in your cabinet probably isn't too high on your radar for expiration concern.

Close-Up Of Multi Colored Sprinkles In Jar
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To find the answer to my quandary, I reached out to Libbie Summers, cookbook author and founder of Libbie Summers Label.

Libbie's answer was a resounding YES. "It's funny, most people are led to believe that they don't as they are made of sugar, and sugar typically doesn't spoil," Summers says, "but sprinkles have other colorants and additives that can cause spoilage."

So how are we to know if that jar of sprinkles sitting in our cabinet is no longer up to par? "I can smell an expired sprinkle a mile away, and that's even before I taste it," Summers says.

There's an odor that will let you know that those sprinkles are no longer a happy addition to your delicious cookie or cupcake. It all comes down to storage and how long the sprinkles have been open, so factors like air, heat, and moisture, begin the maturation process, Summers says.

The good news is that an open jar of sprinkles, when stored in a cool, dry place can last up to a year, Summers says. An unopened jar of sprinkles will stay fresh for as long as three years.

Of course, I couldn't think of sprinkles without thinking of Betty Crocker, who happens to be celebrating her 100th birthday this year, so I reached out to see what her standard is for their sprinkles. "We believe our Betty Crocker sprinkles are best enjoyed within two years," Maria Jaramillo, business unit director for Mexican and baking at Betty Crocker, says. "If you find sprinkles tucked away in your pantry and don't recall when you purchased them, here is a helpful rhyme: 'If they still smell sweet – they are good to eat!'"

Although my jar of sprinkles would have still been long overdue, you may have time to finish off your forgotten jar. Plus, everything is a little bit more fun with a colorful topping.

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