Everyone loves salsa. Its slightly sweet, savory, and zesty flavor goes well with almost any dish whether you serve it as a dip for nachos or use it as a marinade for meat.
Made with tomatoes, onions, chilies, and herbs, salsa can be made fresh at home or you may opt for the store-bought variety. When using fresh salsa, you need to keep in mind that it is not made to last very long.
So, how long does fresh salsa last? When stored properly, fresh salsa may last anywhere between 4-7 days. Since it contains fewer preservatives, it can easily go bad and must be prepared to consume within a short time.
Read on to find out how long fresh salsa lasts in the fridge and freezer, how long it can be kept outside, and the best ways to store fresh salsa to prolong its life!
How Long Does Fresh Salsa Last in the Fridge?
Since homemade salsa is made using fresh ingredients, it has a shorter lifespan than other sauces and dips and needs to be stored properly to prevent spoilage.
Keeping it in the refrigerator is the best way to store fresh salsa where it can keep for 4 days to 1 week. On the other hand, an opened jar of store-bought salsa will keep fresh for around 2 weeks or so due to the number of preservatives in it.
For best results, keep it in an airtight container in the coldest spot in the refrigerator to prevent any moisture or smells from entering it and to ensure it stays fresh for the longest time.
Can You Freeze Fresh Salsa?
For those of you making fresh salsa at home, wouldn’t it be great if you could make a big batch and store it for later use? And what about when you have an excess of fresh salsa sauce and do not want it to go bad in the fridge?
The good news is that you can easily prolong its life by storing it in the freezer where it will keep for a good 3-4 months, or even longer if you are careful while making, storing, and packing it.
However, when doing so, you must let go of your high expectations since frozen salsa can get a little soggy with a slightly different taste from the original.
This happens because salsa is made from fresh vegetables, mainly tomatoes, that don’t freeze too well.
For this reason, you must freeze leftover salsa with the intention of using it as an ingredient in a dish where its changed consistency won’t matter much.
You can either store your salsa in a big plastic jar with a little space left for air, use multiple small jars for smaller batches, or pour it into ice cube trays for smaller, more manageable portions.
When using jars, make sure they are made of plastic and not glass as glass jars can crack and shatter in the freezer. For the ice cube method, once the salsa cubes are frozen, pop them out and put them in a Ziplock or freezer-safe bag.
Remember to squeeze out as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it and putting it in the freezer.
Here are a few tips to remember when freezing salsa for later use:
- It is best to puree the salsa before freezing since the frozen vegetable chunks tend to lose their flavor and texture.
- Cooking the salsa will help prolong its life since you can’t freeze raw salsa for too long and it won’t be the best when it comes to flavor.
- Freeze it in the right containers, such as airtight jars and freezer bags, to protect it from air exposure.
- Frequent exposure to air can make the frozen salsa go bad sooner. Therefore, if you are a frequent user, it is best to freeze it in small portions ideal for 1 or 2 servings.
How Long Can Fresh Salsa Sit Outside?
As a general rule, you must always keep your fresh salsa in the refrigerator till the last possible minute. Once you take it out, it can safely be used for up to 2 hours, after which it may start to spoil.
However, this amount of time applies only if the ambient temperature, either indoors or outdoors, is less than 90°F. Anything higher than that will reduce the time and make the salsa go bad sooner.
If your house is generally hotter or if you are enjoying fresh salsa at a BBQ on a steamy afternoon, you will only be able to keep it out for an hour, at most.
Since fresh salsa doesn’t have any preservatives, it needs to be stored in the refrigerator at a maximum of 40°F or less.
Anything higher than that makes it the ideal breeding ground for bacteria such as salmonella, shigella and E. coli to grow.
To make sure the salsa stays good to eat and as cool as possible when kept out for longer, you can follow a few helpful tips.
You can place an empty ceramic or glass serving bowl in the freezer overnight and dish out the salsa in the cold bowl.
If you forget to chill the serving bowl the night before, you can simply keep the salsa serving bowl into a bigger bowl filled with ice. Regularly stir the salsa with a clean spoon to maintain a steady cool temperature.
Regardless of how careful you are with the salsa and the tips you follow to keep it cool, to be on the safe side, you should stick to the 1-2 hour time limit of keeping it out.
Also, if the salsa was kept out as a dip, chances are that it would be full of tiny food particles that all add to the growth of unwanted bacteria.
Bacteria from utensils and double-dipping may also add to the risk, which is why it is best to throw out leftover salsa dip instead of putting it back in the fridge.
Now that we’ve discussed how long fresh salsa lasts and the best ways to store it, here are a few additional questions regarding the topic.
How can you tell if salsa is bad?
Since salsa is made using herbs like cilantro and fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and onions, it can go bad very easily, especially if it isn’t stored properly.
To tell if it has gone bad, you must use your sense of sight, smell, and taste. If the salsa looks different than it did before, there is a visible color change, or there is mold formation in the jar or around it, it is time to discard it.
Also, if it has a distinctive odor and starts to emit a foul, rotten smell, it is an indicator of the salsa gone bad.
If it looks and smells fine, you can try tasting it a little bit to see if it still tastes the same as before. If it tastes unpleasantly sour and tangy, it means that it has spoiled and it’s time to throw it out.
As a bottom line, if you’re unsure about it, don’t ever risk your health over it. Discard it immediately and make a new batch of fresh salsa.
How long does store-bought salsa last?
Store-bought salsas come in two variants: refrigerated and unrefrigerated. Both contain a bunch of perishable ingredients and won’t last that long after opening, unlike ketchup and mustard.
When talking about the store-bought unrefrigerated/shelf-safe kind, it usually comes with a “best-by” date.
Since it is most likely cooked and pasteurized, an unopened jar may last 2-3 months past that date. However, once opened, it can sit in the fridge for only 2-3 weeks to 1 month.
On the other hand, the store-bought refrigerated variety comes with a “use-by” date, and as long as the jar is unopened, the salsa will be good for 5 additional days past that date.
However, once it is opened, you must consume it within 5-7 days.
How do you defrost salsa?
If you want to use the frozen salsa in a cooked dish such as a sauce, soup, stew, or casserole, you do not need to thaw it and can add it to the cooking pot or pan as is.
Just keep in mind that this will add a few minutes to the cooking time because of the temperature drop.
On the other hand, if you want to use the frozen salsa for mixing into dips, dressings, or marinades, you need to place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw, drain any excess water, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
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