Hot sauces come in many different types, but there is usually one commonality: they contain peppers. Many sauces also contain sweet foods like onion, tomato, pineapple, peaches and more. With so many fresh ingredients, you’ve probably wondered, does hot sauce go bad?
In short, some hot sauces can go bad, though the shelf life is typically 1 year or longer when stored in the refrigerator. This is thanks to a low pH value, though this can vary depending on the sauce.
However, despite many sauces containing vinegar to help with preservation, the perishable ingredients can eventually invite mold and bacterial growth over time. This is why, in most cases, it is best to store your opened hot sauces in the refrigerator.
Colder temperatures slow down the growth of molds, keeping your sauces fresh for longer. Read the packaging and if it says to refrigerate, do it!
Because of the preservation characteristics of these ingredients, some sauces, like Cholula and Tabasco, don’t require refrigeration at all. The low pH level prevents the growth of unwanted bacteria & mold.
Overall, most hot sauces have a very long shelf life, especially before being opened. If you are unsure of your hot sauce, a simple inspection can help you determine whether the sauce is still safe to eat.
Struggling to cook healthy? We’ll help you prep. Sign up for our new weekly newsletter, ThePrep, for inspiration and support for all your meal plan struggles.
Hot sauce is one of those things that remain in the pantry or tucked away in the fridge, alongside many other condiments, for a seemingly expansive amount of time. And for hot sauce aficionados, there are so many different kinds of hot sauce – produced commercially as well as artisanal or local varieties – that it’s easy to have 10 plus bottles in your possession at one point or another.
Even if there’s a direct expiration date printed on your product, you’re often more likely to keep these sauces in your arsenal way past that point. At what point, really, does that hot sauce bottle need to be tossed?
Dr. Doug Archer, the Director of Florida’s Agricultural Experiment Station and a top food safety expert at the University of Florida, says there’s not one truly perfect answer to what seems to be a blanket problem for most home cooks. But there are a few signs you should taste and see that will let you know of greater problems to come when your hot sauce is going bad.
“It all depends on formulation and preparation methods, but I’ve personally been asked this question many times, as everyone thinks they’re going to invent the next greatest hot sauces and sends us samples,” Archer says. “Many commercial brands are definitely shelf-stable for a great length of time, but when it comes to everyday sauces, it depends on the pH, the acidity of the ingredients being used, the amount of sugar added, salt level, and many other factors.”
One thing that will visually occur if your hot sauce has inevitably began to spoil are “little black spots” that Archer says could appear to be flecks of pepper in some cases – that’s not the case, however.
What you’re seeing is mold colonies, and if left unchecked, there’s a greater danger brewing in that bottle of potent liquid fire. In what Archer says his department calls “pantry grenades,” hot sauces with more ingredients that are bound to spoil at some point begin to produce gases. Slowly but surely, the gas inside the bottle builds up, applying a massive amount of pressure to the bottle until – you guessed it – the whole thing simply pops like a balloon.
While Archer says there’s no way to exactly know when this kind of spoiling action will occur unless you speak directly to a manufacturer, his best guest for hot sauce longevity might surprise you – just one year.
“The one thing that you’ll notice before anything serious spoiling happens is that the quality of your product has drastically reduced, and that’s evident in taste,” the expert advises me. “Has your sauce suddenly lost most or all of its heat? When you do perceive, for whatever reason, that your sauce doesn’t have the kick that it used to, that’s a major sign of trouble to come.”
Besides the impending worry of spontaneous combustion and globs of spoiled hot sauce in your fridge, Archer says you don’t have to lose sleep when it comes to accidentally keeping a hot sauce or condiment for too long.
If you happen to digest some hot sauce that is too old, you’re mostly ingesting bad yeast or mold, causing imperfect taste, but it won’t cause long-term damage whatsoever.
Now, if we could only stop worrying about the bottle rocket that is apparently just begging to explode.
Does Valentina go bad if not refrigerated?
Made primarily with dry arbol chili, this sauce is great splashed into anything your taste buds dare you to go. Care: Store it in its convenient, resealable glass bottle in a cool and dry place. You can refrigerate if you want after opening but it keeps well outside for the length of its shelf life too.
Do you need to refrigerate soy sauce?
The short answer? Nope, soy sauce doesnt need to be refrigerated… … An unopened bottle of soy sauce can last as long as two or three years (basically forever), and you can safely leave an opened bottle out of the refrigerator for up to one year.
How long does it take for Valentina hot sauce to expire?
Do you need to refrigerate Valentina hot sauce?
Is hot sauce still good after expiration date?
How long does hot sauce last after opening?