Are you a fan of spaghetti and marinara sauce? Do you often find yourself with leftover sauce that you’re not sure what to do with?
It’s important to know how long your marinara sauce will last in the refrigerator before it goes bad. Whether it’s store-bought or homemade, there are certain factors that can affect its shelf life.
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of marinara sauce storage and answer the question: how long is marinara sauce good for in the refrigerator?
So, grab a plate of spaghetti and let’s dive in!
How Long Is Marinara Sauce Good For In The Refrigerator?
The answer to this question depends on whether your marinara sauce is store-bought or homemade. Let’s start with store-bought sauce.
Once a jar of store-bought marinara sauce has been opened, it should be refrigerated and used within 7-10 days for best quality. Tomato-based sauces can last up to 10 days, while cream-based sauces are good for up to 7 days.
On the other hand, homemade marinara sauce has a shorter shelf life in the refrigerator due to the lack of preservatives. Generally, homemade tomato sauce will last for 3-5 days in the fridge. However, if it doesn’t contain cream or cheese, you can easily freeze it in airtight containers and use it within 6 months for the best quality experience.
It’s important to note that cream-based sauces do not last as long as tomato-based sauces because they do not have the same acidity to preserve them. Homemade alfredo sauce, for example, does not freeze and reheat well due to the dairy content. Although it’s not harmful to consume, the cream tends to shatter when you reheat alfredo sauce, which ruins the texture.
Factors That Affect Marinara Sauce Shelf Life
There are several factors that can affect the shelf life of marinara sauce, whether it is store-bought or homemade. One of the most important factors is proper storage. Once opened, marinara sauce should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria growth. The temperature of the refrigerator should be kept at or below 40°F (4°C) to ensure maximum freshness.
Another factor to consider is the ingredients used in the sauce. Tomato-based sauces tend to have a longer shelf life than cream-based sauces due to their high acidity, which helps to preserve them. Cream-based sauces, on the other hand, do not have the same acidity and can spoil more quickly.
Preservatives also play a role in the shelf life of marinara sauce. Store-bought sauces typically contain preservatives that help to extend their shelf life. Homemade sauces, however, do not contain these preservatives and may spoil more quickly as a result.
The age of the sauce is another factor to consider. Even if a jar of marinara sauce has not been opened, it may have a limited shelf life due to its age. It’s recommended to discard any unopened jar of pasta sauce that has been sitting in your cupboard for more than 18 months.
Finally, exposure to bacteria and contamination can also affect the shelf life of marinara sauce. It’s important to use clean utensils when handling and serving the sauce, and to discard any leftover sauce that has been sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
How To Properly Store Marinara Sauce In The Refrigerator
Properly storing your marinara sauce in the refrigerator is crucial to ensure it lasts as long as possible. If you have store-bought sauce, simply make sure to refrigerate it once it’s been opened and use it within 7-10 days.
For homemade marinara sauce, transfer it to an airtight container or jar and refrigerate it promptly at 40°F or below. This will help to slow down the growth of bacteria and prevent spoilage. Keep in mind that homemade tomato sauce only lasts for 3-5 days in the refrigerator, so make sure to use it up before then.
If you have leftover homemade marinara sauce that you won’t be able to use within 3-5 days, you can freeze it in airtight containers for up to 6 months. When freezing, make sure to leave at least an inch of free space near the top of the container to allow for expansion.
It’s also important to note that cream-based sauces, like alfredo sauce, do not last as long as tomato-based sauces due to their lack of acidity. If you have leftover cream-based sauce, use it within 3-5 days and do not freeze it as the cream tends to shatter when reheated, ruining the texture.
Signs That Your Marinara Sauce Has Gone Bad
It’s crucial to know the signs of spoiled marinara sauce to avoid any health risks. Here are some indicators that your marinara sauce has gone bad:
1. Mold: If you notice any mold growth on the surface of the sauce, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to throw it away. Mold can cause food poisoning and other health issues.
2. Sour Smell: If your marinara sauce smells sour or off, it’s an indication that it has gone bad. The acidic smell of tomatoes should be present in fresh marinara sauce, but if it smells different, it’s time to discard it.
3. Change in Color: Fresh marinara sauce has a bright red color, but if you notice a change in color, such as brown or green spots, it’s a sign that bacteria has started to grow.
4. Bubbles: If you see bubbles forming on the surface of the marinara sauce, it’s another sign that bacteria is present and has started to ferment the sauce.
5. Metallic Taste: If your marinara sauce tastes metallic or bitter, it’s a sign that the can or jar may have been damaged, allowing the metal to leach into the sauce.
How Long Can Homemade Marinara Sauce Last In The Fridge?
Homemade marinara sauce, being free of preservatives, has a shorter shelf life in the refrigerator compared to store-bought sauce. Typically, it can last for 3-5 days in a sealed container in the fridge. It’s important to check the base used for the sauce as well. If an alcohol base like vodka or wine is used, it can help preserve the sauce for a bit longer in the fridge.
To maximize the shelf life of homemade marinara sauce, it should be promptly refrigerated in covered airtight containers after cooking. This will help it last for 3-4 days in the fridge. If you want to extend its shelf life, you can freeze it in covered airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Properly stored, homemade marinara sauce can maintain its best quality for about 4-6 months in the freezer.
When thawing frozen homemade marinara sauce, it’s best to thaw it in the fridge. Once thawed, it can be kept for an additional 3-4 days in the refrigerator before cooking. If it was thawed in the microwave or cold water, it should be eaten immediately.
It’s important to discard homemade marinara sauce if it develops an off odor, flavor or appearance or if mold appears. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, so if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it should be discarded as well.
How Long Can Store-bought Marinara Sauce Last In The Fridge?
If you have an opened jar of store-bought marinara sauce, it should be consumed within 7-10 days for the best quality experience. This is because store-bought sauces contain preservatives that extend their shelf life, but once opened, they are exposed to bacteria and other contaminants. Tomato-based sauces can last up to 10 days in the fridge, while cream-based sauces are good for up to 7 days. It’s important to note that these time frames are not set in stone, and the sauce may spoil sooner depending on factors like storage conditions and exposure to air.
To ensure the longevity of your store-bought marinara sauce, always store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Avoid leaving it out at room temperature for extended periods of time, as this can promote bacterial growth and spoilage. If you don’t think you’ll be able to use the sauce within 7-10 days, consider freezing it in an airtight container. This will extend its shelf life to up to 3 months.
Tips For Using Leftover Marinara Sauce
If you have leftover marinara sauce, there are many ways to repurpose it instead of letting it go to waste. Here are some tips for using leftover marinara sauce:
1. Use it as a dip: Marinara sauce can be used as a dip for chips or vegetables. You can add chili flakes or sautéed chilies to give it a little kick. Simply pour the sauce into a bowl and serve at your preferred temperature.
2. Make a one-pot beef and three-bean chili: Combine leftover marinara sauce with ground beef, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and any spices you like to create a hearty meal that serves a large crowd.
3. Turn it into a Spanish rice dish: Cook rice according to package directions, substituting one cup of water with one cup of marinara sauce. Stir in capers, Spanish olives, and chopped scallions for added flavor.
4. Use it as a topping for baked brie: Slice the top rind off a small wheel of brie, cover lightly with marinara sauce and seasoned breadcrumbs, and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh herbs before serving.
5. Make stuffed spaghetti squash: Use leftover meat sauce as the filling for spaghetti squash halves. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese or grated Parmesan cheese and black pepper over the top when finished.
6. Create a quick ratatouille: Saute chopped bell peppers, zucchini, onion, eggplant, and garlic in olive oil. Add two parts marinara sauce to one part water and some fresh basil, then simmer until the vegetables are tender.
7. Make zesty chip dip: Combine equal parts sour cream and marinara sauce in a bowl. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese, ground pepper, and oregano for added flavor.
8. Create mussels marinara: Saute sliced garlic in olive oil in a deep skillet. Add a pinch of saffron, half a cup of white wine, two cups of marinara sauce, and three pounds of mussels. Cover and cook until the mussels open (about 5 minutes).
9. Whip up cream of tomato soup: Saute chopped fresh herbs in butter; add one jar of marinara sauce, two cups of water, half a cup of heavy cream, and a pinch of nutmeg. Simmer for five minutes before serving.
By using these tips, you can make the most out of your leftover marinara sauce while creating delicious new meals and snacks for yourself or your family.