Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

Does it take you months to finish that big bottle of ketchup in the fridge? No wonder most of us prefer buying larger bottles of ketchup but tend to use very little of it each time.

Nevertheless, you may be worried about whether it can go bad and how to tell if it is no longer good or safe for consumption.

We have summarized everything you need to know about the shelf-life of ketchup, how it should be stored, and what the signs of spoilage are.

How To Determine Whether the Ketchup has Gone Bad?

Here are the signs to look for if you are worried about whether the old ketchup is still good and safe to eat:

  • Mold growth – if there are signs of mold on the surface or cap of the ketchup, then you should immediately throw it away. Keep in mind that because ketchup contains vinegar, a natural preservative, the chances of this happening are low.
  • An off, yeast-like or sour smell – if you detect such an untypical smell, the ketchup is spoiled.
  • Bloating of the bottle or a popping sound when you open it – this may be due to the buildup of CO2 due to the growth of bacteria and is a sure sign that the ketchup has gone bad.
  • The taste is strange or off – if the ketchup is not that sweet anymore, then the chances are that it has spoiled.

Here are some signs which are perfectly normal and aren’t indications that the ketchup has gone bad:

  • Separation – a normal process that happens when the vinegar and other liquids begin separating from the thicker tomato paste in the ketchup. If the liquid mixes well after you shake the ketchup bottle, then it is fine. If not – then it may be time to replace the condiment with a new one.
  • A darkening of the color – is a natural process that transpires with age. The color of the ketchup will gradually become darker. The same goes for other condiments such as Tabasco, BBQ sauce, and others. If you are worried that the dark color could indicate that the ketchup has gone bad, try sniffing it and taste a little bit before spreading it all over your hot dog.

How Long is Ketchup’s Shelf-Life?

If you like to stock up your pantry with supplies, you can rest assured that the unopened store-bought ketchup will last for up to 1 year after the best-by expiration date.

In some cases, depending on its quality, ketchup can last if properly sealed and kept in the refrigerator for up to a year. Once the bottle is opened, though, it will last for only about 2 months. The reason is that when you unseal the bottle, the air starts entering the bottle and the bacteria growth begins.

Please note that the date printed on the bottle is the best-by and not the expiration date. In other words, it is the estimated date until which the ketchup will be at its peak quality. After that, its quality will start to deteriorate, which doesn’t mean that you should throw it away immediately.

The relatively long shelf-life of ketchup is due to the acidity from the vinegar and tomatoes and the sugar, which is an excellent preservative.

If despite its long shelf-life, you end up with spoiled ketchup, you may want to consider buying smaller bottles next time.

The above is true for ketchup offered in most stores, made by big brands like Heinz.

If you prefer buying ketchup from smaller organic producers, then the shelf-life is very different.

Because organic ketchup is made of all-natural ingredients, its shelf life can last for only 1-2 months. Check the label for more information about the product’s shelf-life, and make sure to consume it as soon as possible.

If you like to prepare your own homemade ketchup, its shelf-life will be only 2-3 months after making it if stored in the fridge.
Make sure to check the storage instructions provided in the recipe you are using.

The Best Way for Storing Ketchup

Sealed store-bought ketchup should be kept in the pantry, cabinet, or another cool and dark place not exposed to direct sunlight or heat.

Once you open the bottle, though, you should keep it in the fridge if you want it to last for the next 6-12 months.

You can leave outside at room temperature, but you will shorten its shelf-life significantly to only 1 month.

Store your homemade ketchup properly sealed in an airtight container, jar, or bottle, and keep it in the refrigerator at all times.

To prevent contamination and the untimely spoilage of the ketchup, make sure to use a clean utensil if scooping it out of a jar. Check the cap for mold and clean any buildup efficiently. Dry it before closing the bottle or jar.

Is It Possible To Freeze Ketchup?

Yes, you can freeze it, but why should you? Since a bottle of ketchup can last for up to a year in the fridge once it is opened, then you will have a whole year to finish it.

Still, if you want to preserve it for longer, you can freeze it.

One of the best ways to freeze ketchup and other condiments is by pouring them in ice trays and freezing them. After they are frozen, you can move the cubes into a freezer bag or container.

This method will allow you to take out and thaw just a small amount of ketchup every time instead of defrosting the entire batch.

FAQs

Does ketchup ever expire? And if it has expired, can you eat it?

The date printed on the label is the best-by date, not necessarily when the product will go bad and needs to be thrown away. The best-by date is an indicator for the time until the ketchup retains its best quality. Still, it can last and be good to eat for months after that date.

How long can ketchup last after the best-by date?

This depends on the type of ketchup and how you have been storing it. In most cases, it can last for at least 6 months following the best-by date. Still, it helps to taste a bit of the expired ketchup before putting it on your meal.

Final Words

Ketchup contains a lot of acidic ingredients as well as sugar which is a natural preservative. Store-bought ketchup can last for months following the best-by date on its label.

When it is still sealed, you can keep the ketchup in the pantry, but you should store it in the refrigerator once you open it.

Organic or homemade ketchup need to be stored in the fridge and will spoil faster.

To maximize the shelf-life of ketchup, you will need to store it correctly and check the bottle for any signs of spoiling, especially if it has expired or has been sitting in the fridge for months.

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