Here’s all about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of oyster sauce. Learn how long it lasts and whether you should refrigerate it.
Have you bought a bottle of oyster sauce for a single recipe that called for it?
Half a year later, the sauce still sits in the fridge, and you’re wondering: does oyster sauce go bad?
Or perhaps it’s your first time using this thick brown sauce often used in Asian-style dishes, and you’re not sure if you need to refrigerate oyster sauce after opening, or not.
If either sounds familiar, this article is for you.
Let’s jump right in.
How To Store Oyster Sauce
Store unopened oyster sauce in a cool and dark place, away from sunlight and heat sources. A cupboard in the kitchen or pantry will be great. After opening, it’s best to refrigerate oyster sauce, but it will most likely stay safe and keep quality for more than a couple of days at room temperature.
I’m sure you’re familiar with condiments such as soy sauce or vinegar that don’t require refrigeration after opening. Well, oyster sauce isn’t quite the same, but it’s definitely not like it’s going to spoil after a few hours on the counter.
Let’s dig in a bit more.
Oyster sauce and fish sauce aren’t the same product. Here’s how long fish sauce lasts.
Does Oyster Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?
You probably should. Oyster sauce won’t go bad if you leave it at room temperature after opening for a couple of days, or even weeks. But the quality will degrade much faster, so unless you plan on finishing the bottle soon, refrigeration is the way to go.
In other words, not every brand says refrigeration after opening is necessary, but pretty much all agree it helps the condiment retain quality for longer.
For instance, Golden Dragon Sauces say that refrigeration of their products is recommended, but not necessary. Cold temperature simply helps to preserve the quality of the sauce.
Other brands, like the popular Maekrua, slap a big label that says “refrigerate after opening” on the bottle. That makes it pretty clear you should keep the sauce in the fridge.
(Cocktail sauce also benefits from refrigeration, in case you were wondering.)
How Long Does Oyster Sauce Last?
|Oyster sauce (unopened)||Best-by + 3 – 6 months for best quality|
|Oyster sauce (opened)||3 – 6 months for best quality|
Oyster sauce usually has a shelf life of about 18 to 24 months unopened. After opening, it lasts for at least a couple of months if you refrigerate it. The specifics depend on the brand, but the suggested storage time is usually between 3 to 6 months, up to even a year.
And it’s not like the sauce will go bad after that period. What’s much more likely to happen is that you’ll notice that the quality won’t be as good as it used to, but still okay to use.
The shelf life of this viscous sauce made with oyster extract depends heavily on the producer and the quality. Like with many other things in life, the better the quality, the longer it lasts.
How long is oyster sauce good for after opening? The FoodKeeper app says you should finish the bottle within three to six months, and that’s good enough for pretty much all oyster sauces out there.
If yours is one of the high-quality ones, it should retain quality for much longer, up to a year, or maybe even more.
In short, if you’re not sure about the quality of the sauce, and the label doesn’t say how long the sauce should keep quality after opening, try to finish the bottle within half a year for the best flavor.
How to Tell if Oyster Sauce Is Bad?
Discard your oyster sauce if there’s white or green fuzz on the surface, it has developed an off smell or flavor, or if water has started to separate on the surface. You should also toss it if it’s been opened for much longer than recommended, say two years or more.
That’s it for the obvious signs of spoilage. But as you probably know, telling spoiled sauces from safe-to-eat ones is often tricky, and things aren’t as cut and dry as we’d like.
Oyster sauce darkens and its flavor gets stronger over time. If it’s too strong for your liking, and using less sauce in your dishes doesn’t cut it, feel free to discard it. Granted, the sauce isn’t bad by any means, but it’s pretty much useless, so there’s no point in keeping it around.
Another thing worth knowing is that the sauce is thickened in the production process, often using cornstarch. And if it gets to the point that water starts to separate, that means the condiment is old. Giving it a good stir (like you do with yogurt) likely won’t fix the texture issue, and that’s when you toss it.