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Nothing can match the taste of homemade tomato sauce. If you can manage to get your hands on a good brand of tomato sauce, it will taste great as well. But be it homemade or artificial tomato sauce, it needs proper storage because all these sauces are perishable products. So, the question still stands, how long does tomato sauce last?
To be fair, homemade tomato sauce has a shorter shelf life. These can stay good for up to three to five days. On the other hand, canned tomato sauce has a longer lifespan. They can last for seven or eight months if the can is unopened.
If you have had some sauce lying on your kitchen counter for some time, you might be thinking about what to do with it. First, you must understand how and why tomato sauce can go bad, how long it stays fresh, and what you can do to keep it fresh for longer. So, to learn about all these facts, please read the entire article.
Can Tomato Sauce Go Bad?
Basically, tomato sauce is a food item that you have to make with perishable items. So, yes, it itself is perishable, and it can go bad!
Actually, tomato sauce is the taste enhancer of any dish! You can use it on top of pizza or even have it with pizza or use it as an ingredient in many dishes. Truth be told, there isn’t a day in my life that I can go by without tomato sauce!
Tomato sauce made at home can taste far better than those you buy from stores. Grab some fresh tomatoes and make a puree out of them. Cook with spices, oregano, basil, salt, sugar, onion, garlic, and ginger as per your requirements, and adjust your taste! Here is a quick recipe for tomato sauce.
So, you can see from the recipe that the items here are themselves perishable. Even if you cook them well, you can’t really expect the sauce to sit on your counter as fresh as new for life! The sauce will stay good for a maximum of five days. But if you refrigerate it properly, it may last a little longer than a week.
However, if the tomato sauce is store-bought, there is little worrying about the expiry date. Because these commercial sauces have various kinds of preservatives in them, they will ensure the sauce remains good for months!
But these sauces, too, can go wrong after that period. If you keep it in the refrigerator or on your counter, it will go wrong at some point! In fact, all kinds of tomato sauce can go bad.
How Long Can You Store Tomato Sauce?
To be fair, how long you can store tomato sauce depends on a lot of factors like – how you are storing it, where you are keeping it, if refrigerated then what the temperature is, how long it was kept unattended, if it is homemade or store-bought, etc.
All store-bought tomato sauce comes with a “Best By” date or expiration date, as you already know. It is an estimate of the manufacturers that the sauce will remain in its best possible form until that date and time, considering all circumstances.
But if it is homemade, you need to know how long it can remain fresh. Basically, the following factors will decide this.
How You Store It
So, if you are not maintaining optimum temperature and humidity conditions, any tomato sauce lying in your kitchen will go bad. Usually, a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit is maintained as the room temperature in most households. But keeping the sauce at this temperature for a long time is not a healthy choice.
After some days, microbes, mold, etc., may start to grow. The best temperature for storing this sauce is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, please don’t keep it near the stove or oven, which are hot places. It can ruin your tomato sauce.
So, if you maintain this, your homemade tomato sauce can last more than seven days in the fridge. And the store-bought one will remain good for even a year!
How Long The Sauce Was Unattended
Sometimes, after having a snack or a pizza, you often forget about the sauce after cleaning up. You barely remember that you left some sauce open on your kitchen counter. This unattended sauce then becomes the reservoir of bacteria, fungus, etc.
Usually, most homemade sauces go bad if they are kept unattended for more than two hours. It is a very short time span. If you leave the sauce open the whole night, it is best to avoid using it further. Better to throw it out and make some from scratch!
Ingredients of The Sauce
Using any dairy product while making your tomato sauce can reduce its shelf life too. In particular, if you use cream, cheese, or any other dairy product while making the sauce, it won’t stay fresh for long. You will have to consume it within four days.
However, the regular homemade tomato sauce doesn’t contain such doubtful ingredients. So, they can last up to five days.
Also, the store-bought ones contain preservatives. So, if you keep the lid closed, it won’t harm your sauce, and you can consume it for a long time.
Homemade Vs. Store-bought
Homemade sauces contain very basic natural preservatives. These have a definite timeline up to which they can work. Usually, this period is concise. So, the sauce doesn’t last more than a week.
On the other hand, chemical preservatives present in store-bought ones have a longer lifespan. They can keep the food items fresh for months and years! They are not easily perishable as they are chemicals. So, the store-bought sauce remains fresh for many months!
How You Should Store The Tomato Sauce
To increase the shelf-life of your tomato sauce, you should add a pinch of lemon juice when cooking the sauce. Some people may even add vinegar. Actually, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, sugar, oil, etc., are natural preservatives.
Make sure the container you’re storing the sauce in is airtight. Usually, glass jars are great for storing tomato sauce. Plastic bottles are not healthy and can degrade soon, ultimately affecting the quality of your sauce.
So, after preparing the sauce, please keep it in a glass jar and close the lid tightly. Store it in the fridge to make it last longer than a week. And if you are keeping it outside, you have five days before it goes off.
Besides, if you keep it in the freezer, it will last for many months. Just thaw it in the fridge to defrost it before using it.
Most importantly, don’t heat it again. Just heating it once while preparing the sauce is enough. If you heat it every time you use it, the quality will worsen, and your sauce will get ruined.
Should You Eat Expired Tomato Sauce?
No, it would be best if you did not consume expired tomato sauce. Although it may remain suitable for a few days after the date, eating it past the date is not healthy.
All food items have a date on their label, which is the limit of their freshness. Every food item is perishable. The companies manufacturing the foods make an estimate of how long the food can remain fresh. In doing so, they come up with a Best Before Date. It is the same as the Expiry Date.
Basically, this date is a rough estimate that the sauce will start to lose its quality from around this time. It is not like the sauce becomes poisonous just the day after the date!
So, you can consume a tomato sauce for a few days or even a month after the expiration date. However, if the sauce shows bad signs, don’t consume it. Usually, when a sauce goes bad, the color darkens, and it gives off an awful odor. Sometimes, you can see moldy overgrowth.
Consuming this sauce can make you sick. Bad sauce often becomes the storehouse of Salmonella, Shigella, Clostridium botulinum, Bacillus, etc. You may start experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, etc. These are symptoms of food poisoning.
Sometimes, you may even experience severe symptoms like bloody diarrhea or dysentery, cramping abdominal pain, burning sensation in the stomach, headache, blurred vision, etc. Consult a physician if the symptoms are alarming!
So, even though the sauce may remain suitable for a few days past its expiration date, it is wise not to consume it further. You can never be too safe when it is a matter of your health!