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Does Salsa Go Bad? How Long Exactly Does Your Salsa Last

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As one of the staple ingredients in Mexican cuisine, salsa is a must-have when it comes to classic Mexican food like nachos, tacos, enchiladas, or burritos. It also goes well into many other dishes from various cuisines around the world like soup.

Salsa is actually a sauce, not to be confused. It is a Spanish word for sauce and there are many types of salsa really. The type of salsa depends on the ingredients used to prepare it. The main ingredients include chilies, tomatoes, and onions.

But, there are various other ingredients that can be incorporated into this amazing sauce, including jalapeno, cilantro, vinegar, lime juice, etc. It depends on your preferences regarding what type of salsa you will choose.

But, once you choose it and buy it, or when you make your own homemade salsa, you need to know how to properly store it.

From there, many questions arise and the most important one is “Does salsa go bad?”. Yes, salsa definitely goes bad if you don’t know how to store it properly.

So, in this article, I will explain to you how to properly store salsa, what the shelf life of salsa is, how to recognize spoiled salsa, and some other important questions as well.

Does Salsa Go Bad?

Bowl of red salsa with tortilla chips

So, does salsa go bad? Salsa can definitely go bad if you don’t know what type of salsa you are buying and how to store each and every type of salsa the right way. There are several factors that determine the process of spoilage of salsa.

1. Type Of Salsa

The first factor is the type of salsa. There are two main types of salsa: homemade and store-bought salsa.

Homemade salsa has a relatively short storage time and it is best to use it right away.

There are two subtypes of store-bought salsa. The first one is so-called refrigerated salsa, i.e. the salsa sold in containers that can be refrigerated. It lasts longer than homemade salsa, but its shelf life still isn’t very long.

The second type of store-bought salsa is an unrefrigerated jar of salsa also known as shelf-stable jarred salsa. This type is the best when it comes to storage life, i.e. it can last for months if it’s not opened.

2. Types Of Ingredients

Ingredients incorporated into the salsa are also an important indicator of spoilage. As I already said at the beginning of the article, the main ingredients of salsa include tomatoes, onions, and chilies.

But, if you add some extra chili peppers, you will achieve a very hot sauce that will last longer. The main reason for that is that hot peppers are excellent preservatives that prevent salsa from spoilage.

3. The Way Of Making Salsa

There is also a way of making salsa. If the salsa has been pasteurized, it will last longer.

Unpasteurized salsa won’t last that long.

Pasteurization is a process in which food is exposed to mild heat that helps to eliminate all the pathogens and, in that way, extends the shelf life of that same food.

4. Proper Storage

And the final factor is storage. You have to know how to store each and every type of salsa properly because that is the best way to prevent it from spoiling.

So below, I will present you with a few tips important for the storage of your salsa.

How To Store Salsa Properly

A bottle of Tapatio hot sauce

In order to know how to store salsa the right way, you have to know what type of salsa you are dealing with. There are slight differences between them when it comes to the storage process. So, let’s take a look.

• Shelf-Stable Salsa: Shelf-stable salsa is something like a popular Tostitos Salsa Con Queso and you can buy it in a can, bottle, or jar. This type of salsa is also known as unrefrigerated salsa because you won’t find it in the fridge at the grocery store, but rather on the shelf.

This means that if you hold it in an unopened jar, in some cold and dark place, away from any direct sunlight or direct source of heat, it will be fine for a long time. Place it somewhere in the kitchen cabinet away from the oven.

However, once you open it, it is essential to transfer it into the fridge. Before you do that, you must transfer the salsa from the original packaging into an airtight container and seal the container properly. You will do that to prevent air from entering the container.

• Refrigerated Salsa: If you buy your salsa in the refrigerated section, it is not recommendable to leave it on the countertop or somewhere inside the kitchen shelf.

The main reason for this is the fact that, unlike shelf-stable salsa, refrigerated salsa hasn’t been subjected to some food processes that tend to extend the shelf life of the food, i.e. that tends to prevent harmful bacteria from growing quickly.

So, when you buy unrefrigerated salsa, put it in the fridge immediately, and that way you will prevent it from going bad.

Homemade Salsa: Just like refrigerated salsa, fresh homemade salsa must be refrigerated immediately. So, when you make your own homemade salsa, it is best to transfer it to an airtight container right away.

When you do that, you can also use self-adhesive foils. Take a piece of that foil and put it under the lid. By doing this, you will prevent air from entering and that will slow down the development of harmful bacteria.

Seal the container properly and put it somewhere deep in the fridge and far from the fridge door. Close to the fridge doors, the temperature is unstable and that is not good for salsa at all.

How Long Does Salsa Last? Salsa Shelf Life

salsa and fajitas

As I already said, salsa shelf life depends on a few factors. First and the most important one is a type of salsa. Second, are you dealing with an opened jar or an unopened jar of salsa? And the final factor is the type of storage, i.e. how salsa is stored.

How Long Does Store-Bought Salsa Last?

As you already know, store-bought salsa can last longer than a homemade one. The reason is obvious, store-bought salsa contains preserving agents that protect it from harmful bacteria and other contaminants.

However, there are differences between refrigerated and shelf-stable salsa when it comes to shelf life. So, let’s see how big they are.

Refrigerated Salsa

I will start with refrigerated salsa. The first thing you should know is that when you buy this type of salsa, you have to put it in the fridge immediately because it will go bad quickly at room temperature.

Before you put it in the fridge, look at the “use by” date. You can use it about 5-6 days after that date if it is not opened. However, once you’ve opened it, you must also put it in the fridge, and you must use it within 5-7 days after opening it.

Shelf-Stable Salsa

It is a different story with shelf-stable salsa because it is more resistant to spoilage, but you also have to be very careful. When you buy it, you don’t have to put it in the fridge before opening it.

If you do not open it, you can freely use it 6 months after the “best by” date written on the label. During that time frame, it won’t be so good for consumption in terms of texture and flavor, but it will still be safe for consumption.

However, once you open it, you have to store it in the fridge and it will last there for only a couple of weeks, up to a month.

If you have opened it past the “best by” date, it is recommended to use it as quickly as you can, i.e. it is not recommendable to store it in the fridge for long.

How Long Does Homemade Salsa Last?

When you decide to make your own fresh salsa at home, using fresh ingredients, it is best to make only as much as you will be able to consume right away. I am saying this because such salsa doesn’t contain any preservatives, so it can spoil relatively quickly.

However, some people like to make a large batch of salsa to use later. If that’s the case, you have to refrigerate it and use it within 4-5 days.

That is the rough estimated time since the time frame highly depends on the types of ingredients that are incorporated into the salsa.

So, it is best to look into the recipe that you used to see how long can your homemade salsa last in the fridge because there could be some ingredients in salsa that don’t last very long or don’t preserve freshness for a longer time frame.

Shelf-Stable Unopened“Best By” + 3-6 Months
Shelf-Stable Opened2-4 Weeks
Refrigerated Unopened“Use By” + 4-5 Days
Refrigerated Opened5-7 Days
Homemade4-5 Days

How To Tell If Salsa Is Bad?

Bowl of red salsa with tortilla chips, mexican cuisine

Out of all condiments, salsa is the one that is prone to spoilage to a larger extent. So, it’s very important to know what kind of salsa you are dealing with and to store it properly. If you aren’t sure about your salsa even when you do that, there are some signs of spoilage that will reveal to you whether it has gone bad or not.

• Discoloration: Fresh salsa should be bright red in color. If you notice any changes in color, i.e. if you notice that it has become a dark red, brown, or maroon shade, that might be a sign of spoilage.

• Different Texture: If you are not sure that you’ve noticed any discoloration, the second thing that you should look for is a change in texture. So, if you see a thin, rubbery layer on the top of the jar of salsa, it is a clear sign of spoilage.

• Strange Odor: Smell your salsa, and if you sense an unpleasant, sour odor, your salsa is bad and it shouldn’t be consumed. Sometimes when spoiled, it can also smell rotten and fishy, and if you sense that kind of smell, you should also discard it.

• Mold: Green or black fungus growth or a white, powdery layer on the surface of your salsa are clear signs of mold. Mold, however, is a sign of spoiled salsa. It is not a good idea to just remove that mold and continue eating. Rather get rid of it entirely.


Homemade tomato salsa in bowl over wooden background

Is Expired Salsa OK To Eat?

Although many people think that store-bought salsa is not good after the expiration date, the truth is that you can freely eat it in the exact time frame that depends on the type of salsa.

You can eat unopened shelf-stable salsa up to 6 months after the “Best by” date.
On the other hand, you can consume unopened refrigerated salsa 4-5 days after the “Use by” date.

Of course, that is only the case with unopened salsa stored properly. If the salsa has been opened and hasn’t been refrigerated immediately after, you shouldn’t consume it.

In any case, you should check for signs of spoilage and those are the look, smell, and taste of your salsa.

What Causes Salsa To Go Bad?

The growth of harmful bacteria is the main reason for the spoilage of your salsa. If an opened salsa is kept in the temperature danger zone for more than 1-2 hours, or if the salsa is not stored properly, harmful bacteria can grow.

And, if you consume salsa containing those bacteria, you will be exposed to food poisoning and foodborne illnesses.

How Long Can Salsa Be Stored In The Freezer?

If stored properly in the freezer, salsa will maintain its freshness for up to 4 months. However, if you ask me, freezing salsa is the last option that I would choose.

The main reason for that is the fact that, after defrosting the salsa, there will be some texture changes, i.e. your salsa will become more watery.

Also, the flavor of the salsa won’t be the same.

Final Verdict

By now you probably know  the answer to the question “Does salsa go bad?” is absolutely positive. Knowing about the type, shelf life, and food storage in terms of salsa is extremely important if you want to preserve your salsa and avoid eating one that has gone bad.

So, in this article, I explained what are the types of salsa, how to store each type properly, how long can each type last, and what are the signs of spoilage. Generally speaking, these are the most important pieces of information when it comes to handling salsa properly.

See also: Does Sriracha Go Bad? Shelf Life Of The Hottest Sauce

Does Salsa Go Bad How Long Exactly Does Your Salsa Last