How long does homemade tomato sauce last? (factors)
In this article, we are going to answer the question “How long does homemade tomato sauce last?” and discuss what factors affect how long homemade tomato sauce lasts in the fridge, how to preserve homemade tomato sauce for long-term storage and how to know if homemade tomato sauce has gone bad.
How long does homemade tomato sauce last?
Leftover homemade tomato sauce lasts for about 3 to 4 days when stored in an airtight food container in the fridge. Canned homemade tomato sauce can be stored in the pantry for 9 to 12 months when properly canned and the shelf life after opening is 3 to 5 days (1).
However, the exact shelf life of homemade is difficult to predict, as it varies depending on many factors. These factors will be discussed in detail in the following sections of this article.
What affects how long homemade tomato sauce lasts?
Homemade tomato sauce differs between the homemade cooked tomato sauce and the canned tomato sauce. To can tomato sauce, specific instructions should be followed to ensure the safe storage of the product at room temperature for several months (2).
These instructions include the addition of an acidifier in the sauce to reduce the pH value of the tomato sauce to 4.6 or below to inhibit the development of the bacteria Clostridium botulinum during storage, which is present in the form of spores.
The acidification can also help extend the shelf life of an opened canned homemade tomato sauce in the fridge (3).
The main factors that affect how long homemade tomato sauce lasts in the fridge are (3, 4, 5, 6):
The ingredients used to make the tomato sauce: In addition to acidifiers, which reduce the pH of the sauce and inhibit the development of certain microorganisms, different ingredients can act as preservatives, including garlic and chilli, which contain compounds with antimicrobial properties.
The cooling rate of the sauce: After cooking food, leftovers should be cooled to a temperature of 21 °C (70 °F) within 2 hours and to 4 °C (40 °F) within 4 hours after cooking and be properly stored in the refrigerator or freezer. The faster the cooling process is accomplished, the lower the risks of spoilage of the food.
The hygienic conditions and cooking practices: Food contaminations occur due to poor handling of the ingredients and cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked ingredients. Proper handling and good hygienic conditions of the cooking place are required to increase the shelf life of homemade tomato sauce.
How to preserve homemade tomato sauce for long-term storage?
To preserve homemade tomato sauce for long-term storage, you should consider canning the homemade tomato sauce or freezing it (2, 3, 6).
The thermal processing which is made under pressurised conditions for canning homemade tomato sauce reduces the microbial load of the sauce and the salt and added acid protects the sauce from spoilage during storage.
In freezing, low temperatures of storage reduce the rate of chemical and enzymatic reactions that cause deterioration in the tomato sauce and inhibit the growth of microorganisms.
Can you store homemade tomato sauce in the freezer?
Yes, you can easily store the homemade tomato sauce in the freezer in an air-tight container. Homemade tomato sauce can stay fresh for up to 4-6 months in the freezer (1).
It can even last longer than this sometimes if stored appropriately but after 4 months the tomato sauce starts to lose its flavour and colour gradually. In addition, nutritional losses can occur, such as degradation of vitamins (3).
Can you store homemade tomato sauce by canning?
Yes, you can store homemade tomato sauce by canning. For this, you should follow specific instructions regarding the quality and quantity of ingredients used, the cooking time and the filling method (2).
These instructions are provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
How to tell if homemade tomato sauce has gone bad?
To tell if homemade tomato sauce has gone bad, you should inspect the sauce in its organoleptic properties. The first indication that the homemade tomato sauce is no longer good is the change in its odour (3, 4).
Off-odours and off-flavours, such as sour, rancid, oxidised and alcoholic may appear. Changes in the colour, such as loss of redness and texture, such as phase separation may indicate spoilage.
In addition, the growth of mould or the formation of slime or gas is possible.
In this article, we answered the question “How long does homemade tomato sauce last?” and discussed what factors affect how long homemade tomato sauce lasts in the fridge, how to preserve homemade tomato sauce for long-term periods and how to know if homemade tomato sauce has gone bad.
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Usda.gov. [cited 2023 Aug 15]. Available from: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/data/EN/FoodKeeper-Data.xls
National center for home food preservation [Internet]. Uga.edu. [cited 2023 Sep 21]. Available from: https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_03/tomato_sauce.html
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