Tabasco has been the only fermented hot sauce brand popular and available in more than 160 countries worldwide since Edmund McIlhenny made it in 1868 for the first time. However, you will rarely use it daily so that the bottle can stay in your home pretty long.
Sometimes, hot Tabasco sauce can sit in your pantry or refrigerator for months. In such a case, the questions, does Tabasco sauce go bad and how long does Tabasco sauce last, will come up at some point. Let’s see.
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Does Tabasco Sauce Go Bad?
Tabasco sauce is an unusual product. While every sauce produced worldwide expires or goes bad at some point, it seems that this particular one can last forever.
Of course, it is not entirely true, and you can use it for approximately ten years when you store it in the fridge. An opened product will last for about two years, but its flavor won’t stay the same.
The secret is in the way McIlhenny Company makes this popular sauce and its three ingredients, Tabasco peppers grown on Avery Island, distilled vinegar, and salt.
Since manufacturers let the mashed peppers aging in barrels with these two powerful preservatives, no microorganisms can spoil the product when stored in the recommended way.
How Long Does Tabasco Sauce Last?
Tabasco sauce will last for years, whether unopened, opened, refrigerated, or unrefrigerated, but its flavor will significantly vary depending on storing method.
It is a long-lasting product thanks to the high salt level and the low pH the vinegar present provides. Such an environment doesn’t fit bacteria and yeast, so the adequately stored sauce will be safe for years.
There are a few factors that will affect your sauce shelf life. First, you should check the production date before buying a bottle. The second thing is Tabasco sauce type since different varieties will last differently.
Tabasco sauce type
|Unopened, original||5 to 10 years||
|1 to 2 weeks||5 years|
|Unopened, flavored||Up to two years||
|One week||1.5 to 2 years|
2 to 3 months
While original Tabasco sauce’s shelf life is five years, Tabasco Garlic Pepper sauce can’t last more than two years, for example. Some flavored types will last only up to 18 months.
Always keep homemade Tabasco sauce in the fridge. It can stay usable for only a week when stored in a pantry, but you can use the refrigerated sauce for two to three months.
7 Tips to Tell if Tabasco Sauce Has Gone Bad
As I have already mentioned, Tabasco sauce won’t quickly spoil, but its quality will decrease over time. Therefore, always check it before use if it lasts for too long, particularly when stored inadequately.
The primary thing is to prevent external contamination. Therefore, check if the cap is sealed appropriately to determine if moisture, air, and bugs have entered into the bottle and spoiled the product.
If you have sauce with emulsifiers, it is not rare to see them separate over time. That doesn’t mean sauce is bad, and you can solve the problem by shaking the bottle.
An unusual and unpleasant Tabasco sauce smell is a sign of organic growth inside the bottle. Trust your instincts and decide to use it for cooking or get rid of it depending on the odor type.
If there is no mold growth, you can probably use sauce without worry, even though it is not entirely nice. Keep in mind that Tabasco sauce stored for long won’t smell fresh, although it is safe for use.
Tabasco sauce will naturally darken as it ages, and it doesn’t affect its taste and quality. Unfortunately, direct sunlight will accelerate the process and make it unusable much earlier.
So, a dark red or brownish color is natural for older sauce, and it shouldn’t worry you. If you prefer your product to stay unchanged, you can prevent this discoloration by storing the bottle in the fridge, away from light.
With quality deterioration, you will notice that sauce texture becomes clumpy. That is a sign the product is not fresh anymore.
Tabasco sauce will be edible for years, but its quality will change. The level of that change will depend on the Tabasco variety. If you are not sure about the exact cause, try it and check if it is tasty as it should be. Any unpleasant flavor is a sign of discarding it right away.
The occurrence of small black dots over the sauce surface means you need to get rid of this product immediately. It is not tasty and can be harmful to your health in this condition. Keep in mind that mold growth may cause gas to create and consequential popping the bottle.
4 Tips to Store Tabasco Sauce
You should store an unopened Tabasco sauce bottle in a cold and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Therefore, a kitchen cabinet, cupboard, and pantry are excellent places for this purpose. It will be enough to keep it away from any source of heat.
You can keep storing the bottle this way even after opening it if your pantry is cold enough. In such a case, it is crucial to seal the bottle cap tightly to prevent air and moisture from coming in contact with the sauce.
Thanks to the high salt levels and vinegar this product contains, you can keep the bottle this way for months when necessary. However, it is recommended to store an opened product in the fridge when possible.
It is always better to store an opened Tabasco sauce bottle in the fridge at a max of 40 F (4.5 C). Some people believe that refrigerating affects its flavor negatively. The fact is that taste can’t remain the same after years of use.
As long as the bottle is tightly closed, the sauce will be tasty for years stored this way. Sometimes, you will notice a crusty layer on the bottle edge. Regularly remove it to prevent mold growth on the exposed part.
Remember that the sauce containing flavoring ingredients benefit from low temperatures more than the original one. Flavored Tabasco sauce contains extra ingredients, like fruits, mustard, or vegetables. Since they can affect the sauce to spoil quicker, you should store this product in the fridge.
The story is entirely different when it comes to the homemade Tabasco sauce you have prepared at home.
When you make a simple sauce, you need to store it in the fridge. Otherwise, microorganisms will start growing at room temperature, making the product inedible after a while.
The crusty junk on a hot sauce bottle cap looks awful and can shorten the sauce shelf life because it is an excellent surface for bacteria growth. Therefore, regularly rinse the cap after using the sauce to prevent that issue.
Shake up a bottle
When you have a bottle with an old Tabasco sauce, you should shake it up before use. That will help in bringing flavors back and prevent the separation over time.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Tabasco Sauce
Tabasco sauce taste and flavor will change over time, but probably not in the expected way typical for most other food. Its best-by date shows that its flavor will be the best in that period, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use this product after that.
Salt and vinegar this product contains are excellent preservatives, and they prevent any possible spoilage you can expect with other similar products. In other words, consuming ten years old original Tabasco sauce probably won’t cause any health issues.
Unfortunately, the sauce with added ingredients is something else. If you use the sauce with added fruit like pear or apricot, or veggies, you can expect it to worsen after a while. The rule of thumb is that more diluted sauce will become spoiled faster, so you should be careful.
It is also necessary to check this product for mold presence, especially around the cap. Not all molds are harmful, but some of them contain mycotoxins that may cause severe health issues you don’t want to experience.
Can You Freeze Tabasco Sauce?
I believe that no one freezes Tabasco sauce because it lasts long enough. The preservatives this product contains will keep it safe from spoilage for years, so there is no need to store it that way.
Homemade Tabasco sauce is something different. You can put it in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer when you find it necessary. There is no data on how long it will stay flavored when left at low temperatures for long, but there are high chances that it will be edible after thawing.
Tabasco sauce is a delicious hot product made of Tabasco peppers from Avery Island, distilled vinegar, and salt. This product can last for years thanks to these natural preservatives and a long aging process in wooden barrels.
The original red sauce flavor will slightly change over time, but you can expect flavored sauces to deteriorate after a year or two.