Does Vegetable Broth Go Bad?

You’ve bought veggie broth wanting to make one of the fall soups. That, sadly, didn’t happen, and now you’re left with “expired” broth. Does vegetable broth go bad?

Or you’ve just made that soup, but the carton is still half-full, and you’re not sure what to do with the leftovers. You don’t want them to spoil, but at the same time, you don’t have any set plans on whipping up that soup again.

Either way, you’re looking for information on storage, shelf life, and going bad of vegetable broth. And that’s what this article is all about. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of veggie broth.

Vegetable broth in a white plate
Vegetable broth in a white plate

How To Store Vegetable Broth

When it comes to storage practices, they are no different from what you do with chicken stock or beef broth.

That means as long as the carton or can is unopened, you can leave it at room temperature. All it needs is a dry spot where the temp doesn’t fluctuate. A cabinet in the kitchen or a shelf in the pantry should do just fine.

Once you open the broth, you should refrigerate the leftovers (CI).

If your broth comes in a resealable carton or bottle, all you need is to seal it and put it into the fridge.

If, on the other hand, you buy canned vegetable broth, you should pour the leftovers into a mason jar or glass or plastic container. Or anything else that you can seal tightly.

That’s it. All an open veggie broth needs are refrigeration and isolation from the outside world.

You can keep the vegetable broth in the fridge only for a couple of days, though. What if you need more time? Enter freezing veggie broth.

Italian vegetable soup
Minestrone – Italian vegetable soup

Can You Freeze Vegetable Broth?

You can freeze leftover vegetable broth, both store-bought (MC, CI) and homemade. The method is the same, no matter if you’ve bought the broth or cooked it yourself. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Portion the broth. For easy defrosting, it’s best to freeze it in amounts needed for a single meal (soup or otherwise). That’s not an issue if you already know how you’re going to use the leftovers. If you don’t, consider using an ice cube tray or a muffin tin. This way, you’ll end up with a bunch of small portions, and no matter how much broth you need, you can defrost that amount.
  2. Freeze the portions. If you’re going with a freezer container, make sure it’s sealed tightly.
  3. Repackage once frozen if needed. If you went with freezing the broth in ice cubes, transfer the cubes into a freezer bag or container once they’re frozen. Add a label with name and date if you like.

Done. Frozen veggie broth can last for months in the freezer, but many sources recommend using it within two months for the best flavor (MC, CI).

When it comes to thawing the broth, the fridge is your safest option. If you’re in a hurry, you can defrost the liquid on the stove.

Tip

If you’re defrosting the broth on the stove, keep it on low until the thawed liquid at least covers the bottom of the pan.

How long does defrosted vegetable broth last, you ask? A couple of days tops, depending on when you’ve frozen it. Freezing doesn’t make it any better or “fresher,” so it’s best to use it right away if possible.

Broth in a white bowl
Broth in a white bowl

How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last

Cans tend to last much longer than cartons, and some broths out there have more preservatives than others. Because of that, the date on the label is the best starting point for veggie broth.

Please remember that the date on the label isn’t an “expiration” date, but only a “best-by” one. That means the product can (and usually does) last past that date.

When it comes to unopened vegetable broth, it can keep quality for anywhere between a couple of weeks to even a few months more. There’s no way to tell how long.

Because of that, if you’re not sure you want to get rid of it right away, give it a quick exam (more on that below). Who knows, it might be still fine to use.

Tip

If you need your broth to last for a very long time, consider using bouillon cubes. They might not be the healthiest option, but they are convenient to use and easy to store.

Soup with noodles in a ceramic bowl
(credit: Henrique Félix)

The shelf life of opened or homemade veggie broth is quite short. Labels of store-bought ones usually say you should finish the product within 4 to 5 days (CI). For homemade ones, it depends on the recipe, but in most cases, it won’t be longer than 5 to 7 days (CCE). As I already mentioned, if you need more time freezing is the way to go.

PantryFridge
Vegetable broth (unopened)Best-by + 1 – 3 months
Store-bought vegetable broth (opened)4 – 5 days
Homemade vegetable broth5 – 7 days

Please note the periods above are only estimates.

How To Tell If Vegetable Broth Is Bad?

The last piece of the puzzle is knowing if your veggie broth is bad or not.

Let’s start with an unopened container. If it’s bulging, leaky, or the can has already started rusting, get rid of it. The contents might still be okay, but you never know, and it’s best to stay on the safe side.

Cooked noodles
(credit: Brandi Ibrao)

For the broth itself, check for the following symptoms:

  • Mold or other appearance changes. It doesn’t happen that often, but it’s always worth checking, especially if the leftovers sit in the fridge for a few days already.
  • Off odor. If the liquid smells off in any way, discard it.
  • Altered taste. If everything seems okay, but the broth is quite old (opened for like four days), it makes sense to give it a taste. Eating a tablespoon or two won’t kill you, but might prevent you from making soup that tastes terrible.

Last but not least, if your veggie broth is already opened for more than a week, get rid of it. It might not show any signs of spoilage, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s okay. Err on the side of caution and accept the loss. It’s a better choice than risking getting sick from a spoiled broth.

Sources