Applesauce – whether you buy a ready-to-use can from the grocery store or make your own at home, if you have some leftover from last week’s family dinner or a bottle that has been sitting in the pantry for a while, you may want to know, “Can applesauce go bad?” Read on to find out!
Does Applesauce Go Bad?
Yes, applesauce can and does go bad. As with all food items made from fruits, applesauce will get spoiled if not stored properly or if it is left for too long.
Off-the-shelf applesauce, however, tends to last much longer than one that’s freshly made at home. The reason is that, unlike homemade sauce, store-bought applesauce contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C), a preservative that helps prolong its shelf life.
But the preservative will only effectively do its job if the sauce remains sealed. Once the bottle has been opened, the product starts to degrade and will go bad after a few days. The same is true for a sealed bottle that is past its best-by date. While applesauce can last up to a month after the printed date, it won’t taste as fresh as a new bottle.
How Long Does Applesauce Last?
Sealed applesauce can retain its quality for at least a few months past the marked date. Once the seal is broken, the sauce will stay good for about a week.
But applesauce must be refrigerated to keep it cool and avoid the growth of pathogens. And depending on the brand, applesauce can keep in the fridge for up to a month. If you want your leftover sauce to last a little bit longer, consider storing it in the freezer.
The best-by date can help you estimate how long you can use your applesauce before it goes bad. Unlike expiration or sell-by date, you can still consume the product after this date.
No rule governs how long applesauce will stay good after the best-by date, as different brands will use different ingredients to prolong the shelf life of their product. But for the most part, applesauce will last between one and four months after the printed date.
Of course, the longer the sauce remains in storage, the lower its quality will be by the time you want to use it. That means a can that is four months past its best-by date will not taste as fresh and flavorful as one that’s only one week after this date.
The following table illustrates the lifespan of both store-bought and homemade applesauce in different storage environments.
|Unopened applesauce||Best-by date + 1 to 4 months||N/A|
|Opened applesauce||Not recommended||Up to 7 days or what the package indicates|
|Homemade applesauce||Not recommended||5 to 7 days|
4 Tips to Tell if Applesauce Has Gone Bad
Now that we have established that applesauce can go bad, how do you know when the product is not safe to ingest, you may ask? Well, look out for the following signs.
1. Damaged Container
If you haven’t opened your applesauce, inspect the container to make sure it is intact. Check to see there are no leaks or signs of rust and the lid is properly sealed. If you find any of these, assume the product is already spoiled regardless of whether it exhibits other signs of going bad or not.
2. Presence of Mold
Mold-contaminated applesauce will appear to have greenish, white, black, or grayish pieces of furry and not-so-good-looking dust. Depending on the ingredients, some applesauce can even develop orange mold.
Poorly stored applesauce or one that has been left unsealed can easily attract mold. If your sauce comes in an opaque container, especially, mold may grow unnoticed. Take a sniff of the applesauce. If it smells earthy, it has mold and should be discarded.
3. Longer Duration of Storage Than Recommended
Use the printed best-by date to figure out whether your applesauce is safe to consume. A couple months past this date should not be a concern but if the sauce has been in the pantry or fridge past the periods we discussed earlier, it should not be ingested.
4. Funny Taste
If the sauce seems to be okay up to this point, taste it. Simply scoop a small amount and put it in your mouth. If it doesn’t have any weird taste, go ahead and use it. Otherwise, discard it.
It helps to know what applesauce tastes like to be able to identify sauce that has gone bad. Fresh applesauce will usually have a sweet and tart taste. If the product tastes different, it probably isn’t good and should not be consumed.
4 Tips to Store Applesauce
Storing your applesauce properly ensures that it stays around and tastes great longer. Here are some tips to help you.
1. Place in a Cool, Dark Area
Heat and light can make applesauce go bad quickly. That said, you should never store your sauce near the stove or window. The pantry would be a great spot, but you could also pick any cabinet in the kitchen.
Store-bought sauce contains preservatives and is commercially sealed to extend its shelf life and prevent microbial contamination. As such, a new can will not require refrigeration. However, once the sauce has been opened, it must be stored in the fridge to keep it from going bad.
Refrigeration is especially important for homemade applesauce as well. Because this type will likely contain no preservatives, storing it in the refrigerator helps it last longer. You can can your homemade applesauce to extend its lifespan. Here is a video to guide you:
3. Keep it Tightly Sealed
Before placing leftover applesauce in the refrigerator, make sure it is properly sealed. Most of the time, applesauce will come in a resealable container. If yours cannot seal properly, consider transferring the sauce to a sealable container. Freshly made sauce should also be stored in a tightly sealed container.
4. Scoop With a Clean Spoon
Do not handle your applesauce with a spoon you already used for another food item. Not only is it unhygienic but it is also likely to welcome mold into the sauce. Use a clean, dry spoon to scoop your applesauce, and always keep the container covered to prevent food crumbs from falling inside.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Applesauce
If the sauce is just a couple months past its best-by date, it is unlikely that it will make you sick. However, there will be a significant drop in quality and the product will probably not taste as great as a new one.
The only time you should be worried about consuming bad applesauce is if the product has mold in it. While eating just a little bit of mold may not have any ill effects, ingesting huge amounts of it can be dangerous.
Mold contains mycotoxins, and actively eating it can make you ill. You may experience some severe symptoms that can range from nausea, vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, and generally feeling unwell. Depending on your age and health, sometimes ingesting mold can even cause death.
Good thing is that mold tastes pretty bad and you will likely notice it and stop eating right away. If you suspect that you have consumed a worrying amount of mold or you are starting to feel unwell, seek medical assistance right away.
Can You Freeze Applesauce?
Absolutely. If you want your applesauce to last more than just a few months past the date printed on the package or a homemade batch to last more than just a week, storing it in the freezer would be a great idea.
To freeze applesauce, simply pour the sauce into a container, seal it tightly and place it into the freezer. Make sure to leave some space between the sauce and the lid to give it room for expansion.
If you prefer to freeze your sauce in small portions, use an ice cube tray. Pour the sauce into the cubes and wait for it to freeze, then transfer the hardened little blocks into a sealable container or Ziplock before placing them into the freezer for long-term storage.
Keep in mind, however, that freezing and thawing applesauce can alter its texture, causing the sauce to become watery. Some people will advise giving the sauce a good stir, and while that could help, it doesn’t really bring back the original consistency of the sauce. Perhaps you could try straining the excess water instead. Sometimes it helps a little.
Now, if you are like most people, the change of texture may not bother you. If you are able to get most of the excess water out before stirring, your recipes should turn out just fine.
The secret to increasing the shelf life of your applesauce is to store the sauce properly. Unopened store-bought applesauce will be fine in the pantry while its homemade sister must be placed in the refrigerator to stay fresh. Use your sauce within the periods we have discussed in this article or as instructed on the label when it is at its best.
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