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Does Salsa Go Bad? How Long Is Salsa Good For After Opening?

There are many words you could use to describe salsa. If “fresh” isn’t one of them, something is wrong.

Seeing as how freshness is such an essential part of salsa’s culinary character, it’s natural to wonder what kind of timeframe you have to savor the delectable dip before it begins to lose its appeal.

Just how long is salsa good for, anyway?

Here is a quick answer:

  • Homemade fresh salsa will last for less than 24 hours in room-temperature or 4-6 days in the icebox.
  • Unopened canned salsa (such as TOSTITOS salsa) will last for 12 to 18 months
  • Opened salsa will be good for 5-7 days in room-temperature or 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Does Salsa Go Bad?

Salsa does go bad. Salsa consists mainly of fresh vegetables, and few things send harmful bacteria into a tizzy, quite like veggies.

salsa

How to Tell if Salsa Has Gone Bad?

You’ll know your salsa has overstayed its welcome when it exhibits any or all of the following warning signs:

  • Visible mold or other funky-looking growth
  • Strong noxious odor
  • Sour, strange, or off-putting taste

It’s not always so easy to tell when salsa that’s been bought or prepared more recently has passed its prime. If you’re unsure whether you should take a chance on a dated batch of salsa, it’s probably wisest to just toss it and find something else to satisfy your hunger.

What about store-bought salsa? Aren’t preservatives like citric acid supposed to obviate expiration? Certainly, but only up to a point.

A week or two of stabilization (in tandem with refrigeration) is about all the time these additives will buy you after opening – even less if you got the product out of a cooler.

How Long Does Salsa Last in the Fridge?

Whether you’re making your own salsa or picking up a jar from the grocery store, the refrigerator is, without doubt, the best place to store it in the long term.

In its purest form, salsa is fresh vegetables and herbs that have been diced up and mixed or blended together. Just like refrigeration extends the lifespan of unprocessed produce, letting your salsa cool out in the fridge will keep it tasting better for longer.

On average, a previously opened container of salsa will stay good for around 5-7 days when adequately refrigerated (though you shouldn’t expect it to last anywhere near that long if you have roommates). Homemade salsa has a slightly smaller window, as it’s more susceptible to spoiling given its lack of artificial preservatives.

While you have roughly a week to polish off the uneaten portion, it’s best to do so sooner rather than later to make sure you’re enjoying it at peak flavor. Otherwise, what’s the point?

How Long Is Salsa Good for After Opening?

store bought salsa

When it comes to store-bought salsa, the guidelines are a bit different. Most packaged salsas contain preservatives meant to protect their freshness while sitting on supermarket shelves awaiting purchase.

These preservatives do their job quite well. An unopened jar of salsa will still be perfectly safe for snacking and cooking purposes for several months after its printed “sell by” date, while an opened one will sit tight in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks without being much worse for wear.

If it tends to take you a while to get through foodstuffs, buying salsa in the jar is probably the way to go.

Refrigerated Salsa

However, keep in mind that the specific type of salsa you’re working with will also be a factor in its overall longevity.

Suppose you get your salsa from the refrigerated section. In that case, you’re looking at a shelf life comparable to that of fresh-made [1] salsa, perhaps with an extra 1-2 days tacked on thanks to the inclusion of preservatives (yep, even those “all-natural” salsas have them).

How Long Does Homemade Salsa Last?

salsa-2

Homemade salsa is inarguably the best tasting, but it’s also the most temperamental. If you don’t stash it in the fridge pretty much as soon as you finish preparing it, it can go bad on you fast.

How fast, exactly? Try under a day. Fresh salsa that’s left to languish in room-temperature surroundings can become unsafe to eat in less than 24 hours.

Fortunately, giving the condiment the cold treatment takes care of this problem pretty handily. It will hold up for a good 4-6 days in the icebox, but it will be most vibrant within the first couple. After that, it’s all downhill.

One thing that can help fortify homemade salsa against the ravages of time and temperature is to increase the amount of citrus or vinegar you add.

The acids in these substances have a natural preservative effect [2], fending off illness-causing bacteria and delaying undesirable flavor breakdown. To this end, you’ll want to use bottled lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar rather than fresh for the same reason.

Does Salsa Have to be Refrigerated?

Salsa doesn’t always have to be refrigerated.

Let’s say you just whipped up an irresistible bowl of salsa fresca for an impending dinner party, but it’s still going to be an hour or so before your guests start arriving. In this sort of situation, refrigeration isn’t an absolute must. It will suffice to simply cover your serving container in cling wrap and uncover it when the time comes for everyone to dig in.

Similarly, if you were to get peckish shortly after all your partygoers had gone home, it would probably be acceptable to munch on the leftovers even though they hadn’t been in the fridge in the interim. However, most people will probably find room-temperature salsa considerably less appetizing than chilled.

That being said, salsa should always go straight into cold storage if you don’t plan on devouring it more or less right away.

If you allow it to sit out for too long, germs [3] (potentially including some especially heinous ones like C. botulinum and C. cayetanensis) will begin invading the container en masse, increasing the chances of both spoilage and sickness.

Further reading: Picante Sauce vs. Salsa: What’s the Difference?

FAQs About Salsa

How long is salsa good for after expiration date?

What happens if you eat expired salsa?

Don’t worry! The unopened salsa will be safe to eat for about three months after the expiration date. It is best to store it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated, as this helps slow down oxidation which can lead to spoilage.

However, it is suggested to not consume any salsa after the expiration date. Nobody wants to risk getting sick from eating something that is expired!

How to make homemade salsa?

Here is a popular video to show you how to make your own salsa. Remember, you can adjust any of these ingredients to suit your taste buds and needs!

Is salsa good for you?

The answer to this question really depends on what you plan on using it as.

If you’re looking for a healthy and refreshing snack, then yes! Salsa can be an excellent addition to your diet because of its high vitamin content.

However, if you are planning on using salsa as a sauce or topping within dishes like tacos, burritos, nachos .etc, then it may not be such a great idea. Because sauces tend to contain more sodium than fresh vegetables which means that over time-consuming too much salt could lead to health problems like heart disease and hypertension.

So, use sparingly when cooking with recipes containing meat.

Can you freeze store-bought salsa?

Store-bought salsa can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. The quality of the salsa will not be affected by freezing, but it may have a different consistency when thawed.

Does salsa go bad if not refrigerated?

Salsa does not go bad if it is stored at room temperature. This is because salsa contains vinegar, which prevents the growth of bacteria that would cause spoilage. The acid content in a jar of salsa will also preserve it for about 2 weeks without refrigeration.

If you are going to store your salsa longer than two weeks, make sure you seal it tightly and put it in your refrigerator or freezer where the low temperatures will help prevent spoiling as well. Refrigerating or freezing jars of fresh-made tomato sauce can extend its shelf life by up to 4 months!

Wrap-Up

Salsa has a surprising amount of staying power, provided it’s put away appropriately and consumed promptly.

Whatever you do, just don’t let it hang around for too long. It’s a shame to let it go to waste, but it would be an even bigger shame to end up sick because you didn’t know when to cut your losses.

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

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