Does Applesauce Go Bad?

There was this big sale last year on which you stocked up on applesauce. As it turns out, you’ve overestimated your needs by quite a lot. Now you have a few jars of applesauce that are nearing the date on the label. That makes you wonder: does applesauce go bad?

Or maybe you have a half-open jar that’s sitting in the fridge for over a week. At this point, you’re not quite sure if it’s still okay to eat. You have a recipe that would use the leftover sauce, but you don’t want to make everyone sick. What gives?

If anything above sounds familiar, chances are learning about storage, shelf life, and going bad of applesauce could really help you out. If that’s the case, read on.

Applesauce in a glass
Image used under Creative Commons from Stacy Spensley

How to Store Applesauce?

Store-bought applesauce is sold unrefrigerated and that’s how you should store an unopened bottle or jar too. The sauce is pasteurized and commercially sealed, so there’s no chance for microbial contamination. To retain the quality for as long as you can, keep the unopened package in a cool and dark area, away from any lights and sources of heat. The pantry is the best choice, but a cupboard in the kitchen is a-okay too.

Once you open the jar or bottle, it’s time to refrigerate the applesauce. As usual, make sure it’s always sealed tightly when in storage. The same thing goes for leftover homemade applesauce.

Can You Freeze Applesauce

Freezing applesauce is a thing. The first thing you should know about freezing stewed apples is that they change texture after freezing and thawing. Like many other products after freezing, the sauce becomes watery and mushy. Sure, giving it a good stir will help a bit but expect miracles, the altered consistency is here to stay. However, in many recipes, and especially in baking, that change is not that big of a deal. Usually, you can just strain some water and use the rest with good results. Please note that it’s always best to start with freezing a small batch and testing thawed applesauce in your recipe. This way, if things go south, you need to discard only a small amount of food.

When it comes to how to freeze applesauce, it depends on your needs. If you expect to use all the leftovers in a single dish, feel free to pour the sauce into a freezer-safe container and chuck it into the freezer. If you would prefer to have it portioned, I suggest freezing it using an ice cube tray. Or use a muffin tin if you need bigger portions, the steps stay the same as in the linked article.

Applesauce in a jar
Image used under Creative Commons from Migle

How Long Does Applesauce Last

Store-bought applesauce pretty much always comes with a best-by or best-before date. That date is an estimate of how long the product should retain freshness. Of course, since an unopened package is sealed tightly and not prone to contamination, it should easily last past that date. How long past that date, you ask. Unfortunately, there’s no way to give you an accurate answer. Best what I can give you is that it should easily last at least a couple of months past that date. Of course, with time the quality of the sauce slowly degrades, so don’t expect a perfectly fresh and tasty applesauce 3 months past its best-by date.

Once you open the package, you should adhere to the producer’s recommendations when it comes to how long you can refrigerate. Generally speaking, it should keep up for about 10 to 14 days, but some producers have different guidelines. For example, Holmes Apple Sauce recommends finishing their product within 30 days of opening. On the other hand, we have Leahy, which recommends keeping their applesauce opened for no longer than 5 days. If you can’t be bothered to check manufacturer’s recommendations and it’s not clearly written on the label, go with the general recommendation above.

Applesauce (unopened)Best-by + 2 – 4 months
Applesauce (opened)10 – 14 days

Please note the periods above are estimates.

How to Tell if Applesauce Is Bad?

First off, check for significant changes in color and aroma. If the product has developed an off-smell, mold on the surface, or any other discolorations, discard it. Generally, an unopened jar is unlikely to go bad for months past the date on the label. That is, of course, assuming that the seal stays intact and does its job. If it was damaged, the applesauce would go bad a few weeks later.

If it’s opened for more than 2 weeks past the recommended period of storing it open, toss it out too. Like with most food, the first signs of spoilage are impossible to notice. That means it’s always better to err on the side of caution with products that require refrigeration.

If everything seems to be okay with the applesauce and you don’t already store it for too long, give it a taste. If it tastes okay, feel free to use it. Otherwise, it’s past its prime, and you should discard it.