Bouillon cubes have been around a great deal longer than most people would guess. According to the San Bernardino County Museum, Julius Maggi is credited with the creation of bouillon cubes in 1882. A Swiss man in the flour manufacturing business, his goal was to make a low-cost product that the poor could use to prepare cost-efficient, nourishing soups. When stored properly, bouillon cubes have a fairly long shelf life. Bouillon cubes are used to add flavor to a variety of dishes and to make broth for soups, sauces and gravies.
Store Properly for Optimum Shelf Life
Achieving optimum shelf life for foods depends a great deal on proper storage, according to the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Bouillon cubes should be stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Keeping bouillon cubes dry is important. Humidity and moisture, like condensation, can cause the cubes to get sticky and crumbly. When storage conditions are ideal, bouillon cubes can last up to two years past their package date, states the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Repackage for Longer Storage
Many people store food with a longer term of storage in mind, considering such food storage to be an important part of disaster planning. Repackaging bouillon cubes can help extend their storage time, according to the "Marshall County Preppers Newsletter." Bouillon cubes typically have a high percentage of salt, a major factor in their long shelf life. As long as they are well protected against moisture, they can be a part of a long-term food storage plan. Taking the cubes out of the bottle or box in which they came and using a food sealer or Mylar bags to repackage them offers greater protection.
What the Package Date Means
The date on the package is typically the date it was packed on, the date that is should be used by for best flavor or an expiration date, after which a manufacturer says the product should not be used. Bouillon cubes can be used so long after the package date because the date often refers to the date through which the flavor is best, according to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Flavor may start to fade or change after that date. Even if the date on the bouillon cube package is an expiration date, because of the many factors that influence its shelf life, such as storage conditions, if the cubes look and smell fine, they are typically still safe to use.
Organic, Low-Salt and Other Special Bouillons
When storing special bouillons, such as those that are organic or low-salt, use the manufacturer's guidelines for storage conditions and shelf life. The standard 12- to 24-month storage times apply to the typical bouillon cubes readily available at the average grocery store. Organic and low-salt bouillon cubes may not have preservatives or other ingredients that contribute to a longer shelf life, depending on the specific maker and the formula or recipe used in the making of the cubes.
- San Bernardino County Museum: A Feast for the Eyes, Time for Dinner
- Hormel Foods: Herb-Ox Bouillon
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers
- Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank: Shelf Life of Food Bank Products
- Marshall County Preppers Newsletter: 10 Foods That Can Last a Lifetime