Store bought ranch dressing can come as liquid (in bottles) or dry mix of ingredients stuffed into packets or bottles.
And while we already know the fate of pre-made ranch dressing, we’re yet to understand how long ranch packets or even seasonings can last unopened, opened (the ones in bottles) and when mixed.
In this article, we’ll answer that question for you, and even discuss how to tell if your ranch packets have gone bad.
How Long Does Ranch Seasoning And Mix Last Before Opening?
Similar to other dried herbs and seasonings you have at home, an unopened ranch seasoning and ranch mix can last up to two years in your pantry, sometimes even more.
That’s right! Those tiny packets of delight (or large containers you brought from the stores) share nearly the same impressive shelf life as their fellow spice rack inhabitants like curry, salt and other seasonings.
Most ranch mix or seasonings would last between 1.5 to 2 years after manufacture and still maintain their integrity. Take Hidden Valley’s Original Ranch Seasoning Blend In Canister for example. It has a shelf life of over 600 days which is around 1 year 6 months from the date of manufacture, the mix for sauces, dressing and dips and on the other, had a shelf life of over 430 days which is still a pretty impressive storage life.
You might be wondering what makes these mix and seasonings so resilient?
The answer lies in their low moisture content and the use of preservatives (sometimes) to extend their shelf life.
In their manufacturing process, dried herbs and seasonings have had most of their water content removed which significantly slows down spoilage caused by bacteria or mold growth.
Additionally, the foil-lined packaging (or if in bottle, the airtight sealing) helps protect the contents from air exposure and light degradation, further extending their lifespan.
How Long Does Ranch Mix (Sauce Or Dip) Last?
Upon mixing your dry ranch mix with its liquid counterparts (typically sour cream, mayonnaise, milk and/or buttermilk), it becomes like a homemade version, and the clock starts ticking on its freshness.
The new homemade ranch dressing will last up to two weeks when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Before consuming the ranch dressing, remember that your sense of sight, smell and taste are an ally; if your concoction begins sporting an off-putting odor or texture change, for example it’s beginning to smell bad or turn clumpy or separated, it’s time to bid it farewell and whip up a fresh batch.
How Long Are Ranch Dry Mix Packets Good After Expiration Date?
When it comes to ranch mix packets (and also the seasonings packets or those in canisters) and their expiration dates, let’s first clarify one crucial point there: that printed date is actually more of a “best by” date rather than an “expiration” date. In fact, it’s stamped there like that — “Best Before” Date.
This means that beyond this date, the potency and flavor of the seasonings may start to wane but not necessarily render them unsafe for consumption, unlike with expired products like drugs or baby foods.
As a general rule, expect most seasoning packets to retain their full-bodied flavor for up to 1 year past their best by date if stored properly: meaning they’re kept in a cool dry place, away from sunlight, moisture and insects which can destroy the packaging and gain access to the contents.
Even after that 1 year has passed (unless you have a broken packet), chances are your seasoning packet will still pack some punch in terms of taste – albeit slightly milder than its heyday.
Before you use the packet, just be sure to give it a sniff test before using – if it smells off or has lost its aroma entirely, then maybe it’s time for that little packet to be tossed away for a new one.
How Can You Tell If Ranch Mix Or Seasoning Is No Longer Fresh?
There are different signs you can use to tell if your ranch mix or seasoning has lost its potency.
First, check for an expiration date on the packaging.
Most manufacturers will provide a “best by” or “use by” date as a guideline for optimal freshness, but keep in mind that these dates aren’t always set in stone; they’re merely suggestions to ensure peak taste and quality. Only question the freshness of the seasoning when you notice some of the signs below in addition to the fact that it has expired.
The next sign that your packet must have begun to go bad is if it feels clumpy, indicating that the seal must have broken and moisture was allowed inside. If a packet has strings in it (looking like they came from spiders), then it’s bad, and you should throw it out.
Very rarely, the contents of packet seasoning would smell bad, but if they do, before or after mixing them with liquids, then it’s possible that the ranch has gone bad.
Does Ranch Seasoning Need To Be Refrigerated?
No, ranch seasoning does not need to be refrigerated, and that is because it is made up of a blend of herbs and spices that are shelf-stable and can be safely stored in your pantry or spice cabinet without spoilage.
However – and here’s where things get interesting – once you’ve mixed that concoction with perishable ingredients like sour cream or mayonnaise to create the beloved ranch dressing or dip, then yes! You absolutely must store your homemade creation in the refrigerator to maintain its freshness and safety for consumption.
So there you have it: Ranch seasoning? Pantry-safe. Ranch dressing or dip? Straight to the fridge! Keep the rule of thumb in mind and you’re good to go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Ranch Seasoning Have The Following?
Yes, many ranch seasonings and mixes typically contain milk in the form of buttermilk powder or other dairy-derived ingredients, giving it that signature creamy taste we all know and love. To be sure however, always check the label and look for labels like “contains dairy” or “no dairy” to know what you’re getting.
Most ranch seasonings are gluten-free so they’re safe for people with gluten intolerance. Note that most isn’t all, and It’s always a good idea to check the label of the mix or seasoning to be sure it doesn’t contain gluten, as some brands may include sources of it in their recipes.
Even if ranch mix itself contains very little to none calories, when you mix it with buttermilk and mayonnaise to make a creamy dressing, it instantly becomes a calorie bomb.
The seasoning however, meant to be sprinkled on fries, wings and onion rings, usually does not contain calories or has very little, and therefore it does not add any extra calories to whatever you sprinkle it on.
Most ranch seasonings don’t have sugar as a direct ingredient in them, but they do contain natural sugar from the buttermilk powder used in them and even more sugar when mayonnaise and sour cream are used as the liquids for the base. If you want to eliminate sugar or reduce your intake from preparing ranch dressing mix, use heavy cream powder and cream of tartar
Sometimes, Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods, including some brands of ranch seasoning like Hidden Valley, although some of their products specifically exclude the ingredient and make that known on the packaging with a “NO MSG” Labelling.
Of course! Salt is one of the primary ingredients in ranch seasoning (and most other seasonings), and it helps to provide that addictive savory kick we crave.
Ranch seasoning doesn’t contain eggs; but some traditional ranch dressing recipes call for coddle yolks as a thickener alongside cornstarch. If you’re following those types of recipes, then your ranch would definitely have egg in it.
Can You Use 2 Years Old Seasoning?
Using a 2-year-old seasoning isn’t necessarily a culinary crime, because most seasonings typically have a shelf life around that duration, but it’s important to note that spices and herbs lose their potency over time, especially if the seasoning has expired.
So while sprinkling some long-forgotten seasoning onto your dish won’t harm you or your guests (unless there are visible signs of spoilage), be prepared for a less-than-stellar flavor experience.
Should You Throw Away Expired Seasoning?
Expiration dates on seasoning bottles are more of an indication of peak freshness rather than a hard deadline for when they turn into tasteless or harmful dust. If you’ve stumbled upon an expired jar in your spice cabinet, check for signs of spoilage and if it looks and smells good, use it, otherwise, throw it out and invest in some fresh replacements. Rememeber, great food deserves great flavors!