Who doesn’t like sauce? Not only does it go well with tacos and nachos, but you can add it to just about anything.
Although it’s such a versatile food, sometimes a half-opened jar stays in the fridge for weeks or even months. Does the sauce go bad?
There are hundreds of store-bought salsa options, and at least as many homemade salsa recipes. Some of the sauce jars are in the refrigerated aisle, while the rest are on the shelves. That’s why it’s easy to get confused about how to store each variety of sauce and how long it lasts.
In this article, we’ll go over the most popular options, where to keep them, and how long they can be eaten for. If you want to know a little more about the sauce, keep reading.
How to preserve the sauce
Since the storage guidelines are slightly different for each type of sauce, we’ll go over them individually.
Let’s start with the store-bought sauce that is sold unrefrigerated. That is, something like the popular Tostitos Salsa Con Queso. You can buy it in a jar, bottle or can.
Before opening such a sauce, you can store it in a similar way to mayonnaise. That means it should be in a cool, dark place, away from heat sources. The pantry or a kitchen cabinet away from the oven are the best options.
Once the container is opened, you must store it tightly closed in the refrigerator. If the sauce came in a can, transfer the leftovers to an airtight container so they don’t dry out.
For commercial bottled sauce sold in the refrigerated aisle, the storage guidelines are even simpler. You should always store it in the fridge. Not surprising, since almost everything you buy in the refrigerated section must be kept at low temperatures.
Homemade sauce, such as homemade barbecue sauce or almost any sauce you make yourself, requires refrigeration.
Most manufacturers do not recommend freezing the sauce. The texture will change slightly after thawing. However, if sauce is just one of the sauce ingredients in a cooked dish, freezing it is worth trying. The slight change in texture of the sauce should not be as noticeable if it is only part of the sauce.
Last but not least, remember that it is essential to practice proper food hygiene, especially when it comes to sauces.
If you don’t expect to use the entire jar of sauce at once, spoon a couple of tablespoons into a bowl. I know that using the original container is more convenient and requires no cleanup, but dunking chips, chips, or any other food in the jar is a surefire way to transfer bacteria and contaminants to the sauce. And it will often cause it to break down before its time.
How long does the sauce last?
The shelf life of the sauce depends on how it was produced and sold. One thing to keep in mind is that the sauce contains a lot of perishable ingredients. So unlike mustard or ketchup, sauce won’t keep as long once opened. Even if it’s the store-bought variety sold unrefrigerated.
|The periods mentioned below, especially those of the open salsa, are rough estimates. Always check the label to make sure how long you can keep the sauce after opening it.|
Once again, let’s start with the one that is commercially bottled unrefrigerated. This type of sauce usually comes with an expiration date on the label. That date is a rough estimate, and since the product is most likely pasteurized and cooked, an unopened sauce can last a few months beyond that date. Once the jar is opened, it can stay in the fridge for only a couple of weeks, up to a month.
Store-bought refrigerated sauce often comes with an expiration date. As long as you keep it unopened, it should easily last for about 5 days after that date. It’s a rough estimate, of course.
Once the container is opened, you should finish it within 5-7 days. Of course, these periods do not add up. If you open a container that is 5 days past the expiration date, don’t expect it to retain its quality for another week.
When it comes to homemade salsa, it’s obviously best to make only the amount you’re going to use at one time. But if you want to save some time and make a batch of pico de gallo or other sauce ahead of time, it can sit in the fridge for about 5 days. It depends on the ingredients you use, so check the recipe for the suggested storage time.
|Salsa (sold unrefrigerated, unopened)||Expiration + 6 months|
|Salsa (sold unrefrigerated, opened)||1 month|
|Salsa (sold refrigerated, unopened)||Expiration + 5 days|
|Salsa (sold refrigerated, opened)||5 – 7 days|
|Sauce (homemade)||5 days|
Please note that all of the above timeframes are rough estimates.
How do you know if the sauce is bad?
Let’s start with the obvious signs that the sauce has gone bad. These include signs of mold or any other organic growth on the surface or inside the container, foul or unpleasant odor, or sour taste. If you see any of these symptoms, discard the sauce.
If everything appears to be in perfect condition, the sauce is probably edible. Give it a try and see if it’s good enough to use. If it is not, throw it away for quality reasons.
As usual, there are a couple more things to remember when it comes to messing up your sauce.
The first is the usual reminder: if you’re not sure it’s edible, play it safe and throw it away.
Second, remember that sauce is more prone to spoilage than other condiments like barbecue sauce or mustard. That means if you keep a half-open jar of chilled sauce in the fridge for more than two weeks, you’re better off getting rid of it, even if it looks edible and tastes good.