There are two kinds of people, those who have a deep love for hot sauce and those who just don’t understand the desire for the hot stuff. That being said, it is common for someone who loves hot sauce to accumulate bottles of it over time. This could lead to dozens of bottles sitting in your pantry or refrigerator for an extended period of time. This can lead to you wondering if those bottles are still good to use. Well, here are some things you should know about the shelf life of hot sauce, and when to know when it’s best to toss it out.
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Does hot sauce go bad?
The bad news is, yes hot sauce does eventually go bad. The good news is that could be years after you purchase it. Determining how long a hot sauce can last depends on its ingredients. Two of the main ingredients that can be found in a bottle of hot sauce, chili peppers and vinegar, happen to be great preserving agents. They are well known for keeping bacteria away. This means hot sauce has the potential of lasting quite a while, even after it has been opened.
Hot sauces that have a lot of other ingredients that have the potential of spoiling fast, are what to look out for. If it contains any other types of fruits or vegetables it needs to be stored differently and you need to be more careful about using them after a long period of time.
This product does often come with a “Best if Used By” date printed on the bottles. This doesn’t always mean the sauce is no longer good. This date usually signifies the period of time the hot sauce is expected to remain at its peak quality. After this date, there is no guarantee the hot sauce will tastes as it did upon packaging.
Now, the time you can expect an open bottle to last, could be up to 3 years. This is if you have followed follow storage directions on the bottle. An unopened bottle of hot sauce can last much longer than that. The quality of the hot sauce might not hold up that long, but it won’t be harmful to consume.
How to tell if your hot sauce has gone bad?
Over time, the ingredients in hot sauce can stray. It can also change color over time because chili peppers tend to become darker over time. This doesn’t necessarily mean the hot sauce has gone bad. Again, the taste isn’t going to be exactly as it was when you opened it.
The best thing to do is toss the sauce if you are questioning it at all. If you find a bottle of opened hot sauce siting in your pantry, one that should have been refrigerated, then don’t risk using it. Most of the time, your hot sauce will be fine to use otherwise. Unless it has gone years past its expiration date, it should be fine to use, but it’s always better to safe than sorry.
How to properly store hot sauce
For most hot sauces, you can just leave them out in the open, even after the seal has been broken. However, always check the bottle for the words “refrigerate after opening.” Since hot sauces contain two well-known preservatives, it’s not imperative to really store them any special way, unless otherwise told to.
One thing you should look out for is the crust that forms on the cap. This can be an area bacteria can start to grow. Always clean the cap in times it gets messy.
Let’s be honest, if you love hot sauce, chances are it isn’t going to last for years in your home. While, hot sauces can and will go bad, that is usually years after they have been opened. Always, follow any instructions on how to store the bottle. If you are unsure if you hot sauce is still good, toss it in the trash. A bottle of hot sauce usually goes for a few dollars, so it’s better safe than sorry. Otherwise, know that after the sell by date has been reached the quality of the sauce can deteriorate.