Refrigerating ketchup or leaving it out is an age-old debate, and there really seems to be no clear winner!
At home, you might keep your ketchup in the fridge, but then you go out to a restaurant and they have their ketchup sitting out on the table.
If you can leave it out, how long can ketchup sit out for?
Ketchup can last out at room temperature for quite a bit longer than other condiments. Left out, ketchup will be fine for around a month. However, if you won’t use it all in that time, you can place it in the fridge, where it will last for up to six months.
Where you keep your ketchup will probably depend on how quickly you finish a bottle, so read on to find out all the different storage tips and rules for ketchup, so you know exactly where to keep yours at home.
Is It Okay to Leave Ketchup Out?
It is usually fine to leave ketchup out. Made with fairly acidic ingredients, ketchup doesn’t spoil as quickly as some other foods, as bacteria find it difficult to grow in this acidic environment.
However, this doesn’t mean that ketchup will be kept indefinitely. Eventually, it will turn bad, and it will be rancid if left out for too long.
Generally, ketchup can be left out at room temperature for up to a month, but if you live in a cooler climate, you might be able to get away with keeping it out for longer than this.
For households who go through a bottle of ketchup in a couple of weeks or in a month, it is perfectly fine to leave ketchup out on the table with other condiments, as there is a very slim chance that it will go off before this time.
You just need to make sure that you keep the ketchup out of direct sunlight, preferably in a cool, dry environment, to help it stay fresh for longer.
Does Ketchup Need to Be Refrigerated?
If you look on the labels of most ketchup bottles, you will notice that they say “refrigerate after opening”, or something similar.
This indicates quite clearly that the manufacturers intend for the ketchup to be refrigerated, to keep it at its best quality for longer.
So while we have mentioned above that ketchup can be kept out for a month or so, it definitely lasts for quite a bit longer if it is kept in the refrigerator.
Kept in the fridge, ketchup can keep for up to six months, and even longer. This is ideal for those who will not finish a whole bottle of ketchup in a few weeks and prefer to keep it cool and packed away in the fridge for longer.
Keeping the ketchup in the fridge will also help keep its taste and texture better too, so you will get more enjoyment out of one bottle of ketchup!
How Long Does Unopened Ketchup Last?
Unopened ketchup can last for quite a long time, as the ketchup is protected in the bottle and the acidic makeup of the ketchup means that bacteria has a difficult time growing.
If you keep an unopened bottle of ketchup in a cool, dark pantry, it can keep for up to a year. It is always worth checking the best-by date on the label and trying to stick to this if you can, but ketchup can also be fine past the best-by date.
So if you have found a bottle of ketchup at the back of your pantry, there is a good chance that it is still fine to use, just give it a good shake, open it up, and check that it doesn’t show any signs that it has gone bad.
Once opened, store it in the fridge for up to six months, or keep it at room temperature for one month.
How to Tell if Ketchup Has Gone Bad
Most of us have never come across ketchup that has gone bad, but all ketchup will go bad if left for too long, and it does help to know the signs to look for that ketchup has gone bad.
These are the different signs that show that ketchup is no longer safe to eat:
If you open the bottle of ketchup or add some onto your plate, and notice a sour, very acidic smell, then the ketchup should be thrown away.
Ketchup has an obvious smell, tomatoey, slightly acidic, and slightly sweet, and if it is anything but this, then it is best to throw the ketchup away.
Change in Color
Ketchup should be red, whether it is bright or slightly darker depending on the brand. If you notice any sort of change in color, whether it is the ketchup turning brown, or having spots of white or gray, it shows that the ketchup is not good anymore.
Change in Texture
Ketchup should have a uniform texture. Sometimes, separation can happen and there is a layer of watery liquid at the top, but once mixed back in, the ketchup will have a smooth texture again.
If the ketchup turns lumpy or starts to dry out, then it could be spoiling, and you will likely be able to notice other signs that it has spoiled, such as a bad smell.
If you unfortunately tasted bad ketchup, you will know straight away. It will have a sour, rancid taste to it, and you will be able to tell immediately that it has gone bad and is not okay to eat.
Make sure to look for any other signs of spoiling before tasting the ketchup, so that you do not have to go through the horrible experience of tasting off ketchup, but also so that you do not put yourself at risk of becoming ill from bad ketchup.
Does Homemade Ketchup Need to Be Refrigerated?
If you have made your own ketchup at home, you should know how to properly store it so that you get to use it all before it goes off.
Homemade ketchup is delicious, and you are in control of all the ingredients you use, but you most probably won’t be able to use the same preservatives as commercially made ketchup or preserve it as well.
For this reason, it is best to store homemade ketchup in the fridge. This gives the ketchup a much longer shelf life, and you will be able to enjoy the flavor and texture of your homemade ketchup before it spoils.
Generally, homemade ketchup can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks, but there are many different recipes to follow, all of which give the ketchup different shelf lives, so make sure to check on the ketchup to make sure it is still safe to use.
Should I Keep Ketchup in the Fridge or at Room Temperature?
Whether you keep ketchup in the fridge or out on the counter is completely up to you, and how much ketchup you go through. Most ketchup brands recommend refrigeration, but this isn’t always necessary.
If you and your family go through ketchup quickly, and you go through a bottle in a month or less, then it is fine to leave it out at room temperature. You will just have to keep it out of direct sunlight, and in a cool environment.
If you take a month or more to go through a bottle of ketchup, then it is best to keep it in the fridge. In the fridge, ketchup can be kept for up to six months, giving you a good amount of time to get through a bottle.
So whether you keep your ketchup out at room temperature or cold in the fridge really is up to you, and only you will know how long it takes you to get through a bottle!
How Long Can Ketchup Sit Out?
Most restaurants seem to keep ketchup out at room temperature, which prompts us to think that we can do the same at home.
While you technically can keep your ketchup out at home, you shouldn’t keep it out for longer than a month.
If you wanted to extend the life of the ketchup further, you would need to place it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to six months.
Unopened ketchup can be kept in the pantry for up to a year, but it should be kept in an undamaged bottle, away from sunlight and heat.
Can Ketchup Sit Out After Being Refrigerated?
If the ketchup has been in the fridge, but you leave it out overnight, it will still be completely fine to use. Ketchup can be kept out for a few weeks before losing quality.
Which Condiments Need to Be Kept in the Fridge?
Condiments that need to be kept in the fridge include horseradish, chutney, pesto, mayonnaise, aioli, jam, relishes, wasabi, ginger, and Tatar sauce. These can usually be kept in the pantry before opening, but once opened they will need to be stored in the fridge.