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I make a paste using ground fresh basil, ground fresh mint, ground dried ginger, salt, ground roasted coffee, and raw honey (enough to coat all of the ingredients well). It makes a great rub, and can even be tasted straight as a flavorful herbal concoction.

I know fresh herbs don't last long in general, but I suspect the addition of honey, and possibly some of the other ingredients could lengthen the shelf-life.

How long will this last if kept in an airtight container and refrigerated or not refrigerated?

Specifically: how long, what will spoil first, what ingredients might extend it, and any other ideas. Thanks!

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Interesting mix, what have you put it on? –  hobodave Jul 27 '10 at 21:04
    
Well... nothing. I've only eaten it straight. Hence the non-refrigerated part. But it has some similarity to jerk rubs (doesn't everything), so I imagine it would taste good on basically any meat. –  Ocaasi Jul 27 '10 at 21:07
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well of all your listed ingredients the only two that can really 'spoil' are the fresh basil and fresh mint. Honey never goes bad, and nearly any dried spice can last for a long time with just a degradation in flavor.

I'd say that if you washed and dried (sanitarily) your basil and mint before addition to this mix that you could get at least 1-2 weeks out of it unrefrigerated, and at least 1-2 months out of it refrigerated.

Please note that this is just a ballpark estimate and you may have to do some trial and error to determine a more specific window. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if you could get a significantly longer shelf life out of it than my estimates.

Update - I think the presence of salt does enough to "extend" the life of it.

Another Update - Some Googling has informed that honey is in-fact a preservative. Apparently honey is a rather hostile environment for bacteria due to the production/presence of hydrogen peroxide.

I still think my estimates are accurate, albeit a little conservative now. The best thing you can do is trial and error.

Sources:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/132772675.html

http://natural-products.suite101.com/article.cfm/honey_as_a_natural_preservative

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Good point that it's really only the fresh ingredients which spoil. I guess my question hinges on whether the honey/salt/spices could extend the time, especially because they coat the herb preventing oxidation, and possibly add some preservative benefit. –  Ocaasi Jul 27 '10 at 21:13
    
Some clips from your sources: "If you are using honey as a preservative, you must ensure the honey used has spent as much of its lifespan away from direct light sources." * "The efficacy was higher in [preserving] cider than in apple slices due to better mixing." * "Honey, while being able to prevent bacteria invasion, can be susceptible to spoil through fermentation due to the high sugar content naturally occurring in it. The fermentation process will, in turn, spoil any other ingredients that the honey is combined with." * So it works, but it depends on the honey and the food. –  Ocaasi Jul 27 '10 at 21:44
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Honey is a great preservative, a small amount of salt will extend the storage life as well and can make the flavor of the other ingredients 'pop' just be cautious when adding it not to overdo.

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Is honey a great preservative? I know that honey itself can last forever but does it lend those properties to other foods? –  hobodave Jul 27 '10 at 21:12
    
That's the question! –  Ocaasi Jul 27 '10 at 21:13
    
Answering myself, it does preserve! Updated my answer. –  hobodave Jul 27 '10 at 21:21
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