How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last? (If your kids are not around)

Does this question appear to be a simple one? Think again, the answer will be pretty straight forward till you decide how or where you store the tangy puree. The controversial part of it comes to the preference of storing this famous condiment that goes well with most cuisines. Recently netizens engaged on twitter war whether to store it in the fridge or pantry. Either way, I am sure you would indulge in the involuntary act of sniffing it before you use it. So how long does tomato sauce last without or without a refrigerator? It is one thing that you cannot say unless we know how you store the ketchup. We shall give you cues on how long it might last if you put in the refrigerator or on the shelf.

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Before we get into discussing the edible shelf life of tomato sauce, time for some trivia and history check of this pureed preparation.

Early References to Tomato Sauce

The earliest reference to this dish appears in the works of Bernardino de Sahagún, who was a missionary in the Kingdom of Spain. He mentions a prepared sauce being offered for sale in Tenochtitlan markets (part if New Mexico City at present). The Italian cookbook L’Apicio moderno also refers to the use of tomato sauce in pasta in 1790. It was an ancient condiment in the pre-Columbian societies, which include today’s Central Mexico, Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Northern Costa Rica.    

What Goes into Preparing This Tangy Delight?

It is worth understanding what goes into your sauce before you can decide how long it can last once opened. The fundamental version of this tomato preparation is made using chopped tomatoes cooked and simmered until it loses its raw flavor. This is further seasoned with salt, spices, or herbs to add to the flavor. People also add chopped onions, black pepper, oregano, basil, chili peppers, and parsley. Water is also added to bring this preparation to the required consistency.

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Commercially available varieties of sauce will contain added artificial flavoring, coloring, and preservatives, which most times are not suitable for health. A kind word of advice would be to check the ingredients before you buy a particular brand. You can also prepare some at home using easy recipes.

How Long Tomato Sauce Last Without Refrigerating It?

There is a lot of noise on having to refrigerate the sauce once have opened it. So much that even leading sauce manufacturing companies endorse refrigeration. However, I believe that it can stay fresh and uncontaminated outsides the refrigerator if you store and use it the right way.

  • Seal it tightly after use
  • Presence of additional preservatives (Lime juice or vinegar)
  • Weather conditions at your place

If you have used a good glass jar to store the sauce and the weather conditions are not very humid, you can leave it outside for more than 2 days and use it without fear of contamination.

Having said that, if you happen to notice bubbles on top of the sauce or mold developing in the inside of the lid, then do not think twice to discard it.

How Long Tomato Sauce Last If You Refrigerate It?

To increase the shelf life of the sauce, you can place the opened canned tomato sauce in the freezer using airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. This way, you should be able to store the sauce in its best taste for about 3 months or so. The containers containing the sauce should be kept continuously frozen at 0 degrees for it to last longer.

Ziploc Slider Freezer Bags

Ziploc Slider Freezer Bags via Amazon.com

What About Frozen and Thawed Tomato Sauce?

Defrosted tomato sauce can be used for an additional 3 to 4 days safely. If you have used microwave or cold water to thaw it, you should consume it immediately and discard the left-over sauce. It is not advisable to store or freeze the sauce again.

How to Tell Is the Tomato Sauce If Fit for Consumption?

Properly stored commercially available tomato sauce will retain its original flavor and quality till the use by the date mentioned on the label. The ones we make at home will not last for a longer duration. The ideal way to tell if the sauce has gone bad is by smelling it; if it has an off smell, it is time you discard it. You could also tell by looking at the texture of the sauce. If you notice mold appearance, then you will have to throw the entire container. Remember that tomato sauce is an excellent breeding ground for mold.

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Sauce from leaking, damaged or dented cans, and containers should never be used.

What Are the Health Concerns of Having Spoilt Tomato Sauce?

Similar to eating any other stale food, you might experience food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, gastritis, and so on. While it is not life-threatening to consume stale tomato sauce, the spoilt sauce would be the last thing you want to taste. The smell of rotten fermented tomatoes will make you run. So, it is in the best interest of your taste buds to make sure the sauce is at the peak of its taste and quality before you consume it.

Home-made Sauces v/s Commercially Available Sauces

Home-made sauces are a healthier and safer option than the latter owing to the ingredients, the method of preparation, and, most importantly, the personal touch. Sauces made at home may not last long as we do not use any artificial thickeners or preservatives.

How Long Does Tomato Sauce Last

The sauces that are available in the market may taste better and last longer; however, it might contain added flavoring and preservatives, which are not suitable for health.


Take Away

Next time you see a bottle of sauce, remember what the best way to judge it is. You know that this is no job as a food expert. If you are a foodie or cook frequently or eat sauce often, you should be able to tell how long a jar of sauce can last. The main points to keep in mind are:

  • To ensure you store your sauce in proper containers.
  • Make sure you use tomato sauce stored on shelves or in pantry withing a day or two.
  • Refrigerate sauce, so it lasts for a week.
  • Freeze the sauce to ensure longer shelf life.
  • Check for molds or nasty smell before using the sauce that is nearing expiry.

These are words of wisdom from experienced chefs and homemakers we have interviewed. Use them with your best judgment. You could share with us any suggestions you have. You can also let us know your feedback on the article by sharing your comments below.

Hoang Quang

Hello! I’m Quang Hoang and Grow Gardener is my little nook for all the adventures, and occasional misadventures, on my journey in gardening! As I continue to awaken life in little seeds and struggle to keep flora alive, I’ll be here sharing with all of you what I’ve learned! Join me in my little garden, and let’s grow together.

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