Tabasco sauce is a brand of fermented hot sauce made from the prominent tabasco peppers. This sauce was originally introduced by the McIlhenny Company in 1868 according to its official website.
The sizzling hot condiment has won a special place in the hearts of many. Be it burritos or tortilla chips, fries or even bread, there’s something everyone can enjoy with this sauce.
The secret ingredients to this tongue scorcher are tabasco peppers and vinegar. According to Business Insider, they are left to ferment in a barrel for about three years to then be retrieved and have salt and other flavors added. This culminates in the bottled spicy sauce we enjoy.
However, it is often that we find an old bottle of Tabasco sauce in the kitchen. A common question people have is, does Tabasco sauce go bad? Fret not, as this definitive article explains any uncertainty you might have about this aspect.
How Long Does Tabasco Sauce Last? Does Tabasco Sauce Go Bad?
Tabasco sauce is one of those condiments that last longer than they need to. It can virtually never spoil. That vitality is due to the low pH (high acidity) or the vinegar present within the sauce. This makes it self-preserving without any need for additives or other chemicals.
As stated by Healthline, vinegar prevents bacteria growth and works as a cleaner. This means that refrigeration is unnecessary. However, while Tabasco sauce remains bacteria-free, it does suffer from taste degradation.
For both unopened and opened store-bought Tabasco sauce, this condiment can last many years without taste loss. The shelf life of the original red blend is highest followed by other flavors such as habanero, jalapeno and garlic. In general, however, it is recommended to replace the sauce after about five years.
For homemade Tabasco sauce, the longevity of the condiment depends on the preparation method. To make the sauce self-preserving, a low pH must be reached. Thus, during preparation, vinegar or sugar is used to decrease the pH.
If the pH is not lowered, bacteria can sprout after storage. In such a case, refrigeration is a must since without it, the homemade sauce would go bad within a week. Refrigeration gives it a Best By date of 2-4 months at best.
How to Tell If Tabasco Sauce Is Bad?
Tabasco sauce never really goes ‘bad,’ but the taste may deteriorate over time. The color gets darker and more brown over time. The degeneration is mainly due to the added flavors.
Like all things, there is no absolute guarantee that the product will never spoil. The main problem is usually external contamination. By tasting a tiny bit of the sauce, any degradation will be fairly apparent. If your bottle of sauce has gone bad, you will know through these signs:
Generally, though, Tabasco sauce lasts fairly long. Many people have reported it lasted many years before any loss of taste.
How to Store Tabasco Sauce Properly
Unlike soy sauce, fish sauce or teriyaki sauce, store-purchased Tabasco sauce does not need to be refrigerated. While those sauces also last reasonably long, they contain salt that helps in preservation as opposed to acidity, according to a research posted on the NCBI. Since Tabasco sauce does not usually rely on salt to remain fresh, it does not need to be refrigerated.
However, there is a stark difference between the storage of store-bought Tabasco sauce and homemade sauce. This is mainly because of the difference in preparation methods of the latter with dozens of recipes available.
For both opened and unopened store-bought Tabasco sauce, it can be stored anywhere in the pantry or kitchen with little consequence. However, it must be kept away from direct sunlight. Other than that, there are no precautions to be taken.
For homemade simple Tabasco sauce, refrigeration is a must for it to survive more than a month. If left at room temperature, microorganisms will start to multiply at an alarming pace in the container.
For homemade Tabasco sauce seethed in vinegar or some other preserving substance, you can let it sit outside. It will stay fresh for a while before any visible spoilage. However, even in this case, for 100% assurance, it is recommended to store it in the fridge.