Many recipes require tomato sauce or pasta sauce, and it is easy to make too much or buy too much. In those cases, you’ll want to store the sauce for use later, so just how long can you keep it, exactly?
Read on to find out all you need to know about storing tomato sauce for freshness, flavor, and safety.
How long does tomato sauce last in the fridge?
You can store tomato sauce in a fridge for much longer than you could outside of a refrigerator. That’s common sense. What you might not know is that refrigerators inhibit the growth of bacteria by making it impossible for them to live in the cold conditions that they seal off from the rest of your kitchen or pantry.
While they can’t prevent the growth of all microorganisms, there’s still a limit to how long you can store anything in a fridge. So there are other things you can do as well.
One of these things is making sure that you cover food to prevent oxidation, which spoils food much faster: all food, not just tomatoes.
So how long can you store tomato sauce? The answer is it depends on how you keep them.
Kept inside the fridge with a sealed top, you can store tomato sauce for around 3-5 days.
It is important to note that the sealed top needs to be airtight and that you’ll get better results when you’ve allowed the sauce to cool before refrigerating. Once cooled, the sooner you can get it in the fridge – the better.
If you’re not doing the above, your tomato sauce could last as little as a couple of days when uncovered and stored at the wrong time.
How long does tomato sauce last in a jar?
The store-bought tomato sauce that you will typically find in a jar will have an expiration date of some variety. If it has a ‘Use By’ date, you should pay a lot more attention to that than if it has a ‘Best By’ date or similar when foods say ‘Best Before,’ or similar that is more of a guideline to tell you when you should eat something by to enjoy it at its best. Meaning it will usually be safe to eat for a long time after that.
If you’re making a homemade tomato sauce and want to store it in a mason jar or similar, you’ll be limited to around a year. Keeping food like this is most often referred to as canning and requires you to know a lot of methods for safely storing food. There are several factors to be aware of, from adding natural preservatives to the quality of the jars you use. So you shouldn’t just put tomato sauce in any old jar and leave it for a year. Instead, most people should stick with the refrigeration or freezing method.
How long does tomato sauce last in the freezer?
You can further extend the life of tomato sauce by freezing it in freezer bags or airtight containers such as Tupperware.
When stored appropriately, you should keep it for around 6 months for the best taste. Frozen tomato sauce will last almost indefinitely in the freezer. The recommendation to consume it within those first six months is to maintain quality and flavor.
Once you’ve thawed the tomato sauce, you can keep it in the refrigerator for around 3 to 4 days, unless you thawed it with water or using a microwave. In those cases, you should use the sauce immediately.
How to tell if tomato sauce has gone bad?
All foodstuffs eventually go bad, including sauces. So it would be best if you always did a few quick checks before committing to eating it.
1. Changing color
Any discoloration is an obvious sign that the chemical composition of the food has changed. These signs can include going brown, green, or any other color. Sometimes you won’t be sure, so you should do a couple of extra checks or side with caution and throw it out if you’re unsure.
It is common to tell people to trust their gut, but you should really trust your nose when it comes to food. For example, if your tomato sauce has a rancid or sour smell, you should consider it spoiled.
You can get mildew on tomato sauce quickly as it is primarily liquid. If you see any spots of white, green, or black on the surface of the sauce then, that’s what you’re seeing. Storing foods when they are still hot and covering them with a lid will only increase the likelihood of this, so always let food cool before covering it and placing it in the fridge.
4. Unusual fluid on the surface
Any sign of separation when no added oil is present should be treated as a sign that the food has gone off, and you should avoid it. If you aren’t sure, smell the sauce to see whether it has a rotten or funny scent.
Your tomato sauce will last as long as it can under the right conditions. In most circumstances, when you’re storing it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll be 3-5 days.