Does Pesto Go Bad? How to Keep it Fresh!

If you are reading this, then you are most likely in love with pesto and can’t get enough of it. Also, it is possible that you are interested in pesto’s shelf life and whether it can go bad or not.

You may have asked various store vendors, online experts, and chefs - does pesto go bad? Unfortunately, the answer is yes!

However, the good news is that the pesto sauce (homemade recipe) is so tasty that it’s long gone before it hits its expiration date - there isn’t any left on your shelf. Yet, it is a sauce that requires proper storing, especially if it is a homemade pesto with no preservatives.

Well, here’s everything you need to know about your favorite sauce.

What Is Pesto Anyway?

what-is-pesto

Pesto is one of the most popular sauces for pasta, as well as a sandwich spread (source).

The classic pesto recipe consists of olive oil, pine nuts, coarse salt, parmesan, and fresh home-grown basil leaves. Due to the fact that it’s made from ingredients that are high in oil, it has a limited shelf life.

A variation of the sauce was made even in ancient Rome, but its current recipe was first made centuries later in the city of Genoa. The name Pesto comes from the Italian verb meaning “to be crushed” or “to be pounded” (source).

Its most common worldwide use is with pasta. As a result, there are countless recipes online for pesto pasta.

Also, pesto is often served with sliced boiled potatoes, tomatoes, and sliced beef. However, there is no strict definition of when and where to use pesto.

Nowadays, many people use it on various foods, as a dipping sauce (just like salsa), on sandwiches, and so on.

The thing is you can use it on whatever food you enjoy, and most of the chefs will agree to it. It doesn’t matter if it is a Mediterranean cuisine, French, or Asian. 

f it's tasty, enjoy! Simple as that.

How Long Does Pesto Last? Does Pesto Go Bad?

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Unrefrigerated pesto typically has a best-by-date imprinted on the label. If unopened, the sauce can be used even months after the date on the label. Even after you open it past its date, the sauce will be safe to use for seven to ten days.

On the other hand, sauce bought from the refrigerated area has imprinted use-by-date on its label or container. If the sauce remains unopened and past its date, it is still good to use for a week or so. But once you open the container or the tin, make sure you finish within five to seven days. 

Homemade pesto typically doesn't have any preservatives and can last up to five days in the fridge. The fact that it doesn't have any preservatives means that nothing is preventing it from going bad. The short period is a direct result of that.

Keep in mind that the periods are rough estimates and not fixed ones. Always take them with a grain of salt and before usage, check whether the pesto is still good to eat or it has gone bad.

How to Tell if Pesto Is Bad?

Pesto can go bad because of many reasons like improper storage, continuous exposure to heat, leaking container, bad hygiene, and so on (source). Each of them has its effects over the pesto, and each can spoil it relatively quickly.

One of the leading causes for fresh pesto to go bad is the water stuck in the basil leaves. That makes a fertile ground for bacteria to grow in. Plus, the fresh garlic and the basil leaves already have their bacteria that can further expand when you blend it into a paste. 

Some of the most notable signs of spoiled pesto include:

  • Rotten smell, rancid
  • Mold
  • Change of color from green to brownish
  • Doesn’t taste quite right

Simply by looking at it, smelling it, or maybe even having a small taste is enough to determine whether it's good enough to eat it or not. The golden rule here is if you are in doubt, discard it. Don't take any chances.

Remember, pesto can be easily spoiled due to various factors. Trust your senses, check the dates, and don’t take any chances.

Practice proper hygiene and food preservation techniques to avoid any foodborne sickness. Plus, if it's spoiled, you can always make some more that will be much fresher or buy one from a nearby market.

How to Store Pesto Sauce Properly?

how-to-store-pesto

There are two types of pesto on the market refrigerated and unrefrigerated.

Unrefrigerated pesto typically comes in a tin or a jar. You can store it on a shelf at room temperature until you open it. It needs to be on a shelf that is far from sunlight, there is no heat source nearby, and the area is dry.

After you open it, it needs to be stored in a refrigerator. After usage seal back the container tightly. If the pest is in a tin, find a food container, and pour it in before refrigerating.

If you end up buying a refrigerated pesto, keep it in the refrigerator at all time. The trick here is to keep it always sealed. In case the container cannot be sealed, pour it in a sealable food container.

As far as homemade pesto goes, it should always be kept sealed tightly in a fridge. 

If you want to preserve its top quality for a few more days, add olive oil on top of it before sealing back the container and refrigerating.

But if you truly want to extend its storage life beyond its shelf life recommendation, you need to freeze the pesto. This is especially recommended for homemade pesto that’s nearing its lifespan.

Simply spread it into manageable portions, place each of them in an airtight container, write down the date on the container, and seal it.

Frozen homemade pesto can remain fresh for up to four months, while store-bought can last for up to eight months.

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