“How long is your hot sauce good for?”
One of the questions I undoubtedly get asked the most. My answer is usually “It lasts wayyyyy longer than it should take you to use it up.”
The real answer is: “About a year”.
The long answer to this is a bit more complex. It sparks the age-old debate of whether it is best to refrigerate hot sauce or store it at room temperature and also leads us into the annals of hot sauce history.
Historians believe hot sauce was initially used as a way to preserve food. So, by nature, most hot sauces are safe, shelf stable, and will last plenty of time. (You can read more about the history of hot sauce here)
In this blog post, we will explore the pros and cons of each method of storage to help you decide how to store your sauce rotation.
Refrigerated Hot Sauce
Once opened, properly stabilized hot sauces will last one to two years in your refrigerator.
One of the main benefits of storing hot sauce in the fridge is that it can extend the shelf life of the product. When stored in the refrigerator, the cool temperatures help to slow down the growth of bacteria and mold, which can cause the hot sauce to spoil. This is especially important for homemade hot sauce without proper preservation methods (these last about a week or two in the fridge).
Another benefit of refrigerating hot sauce is that it can help to maintain the flavor and heat of the sauce. Warmth and light can cause hot sauce to lose its intensity, so by storing it in the fridge, you can help to preserve the flavor of the sauce for a longer period of time.
However, there are also some downsides to storing hot sauce in the fridge. For example, when the hot sauce is cold, it can become thicker and harder to pour. This can make it difficult to use in the case of an emergency sauce situation if you need to add it to a dish quickly. Additionally, if the hot sauce is not properly sealed, it can absorb other flavors from the fridge, which can affect the taste of the sauce.
Unrefrigerated Hot Sauce
Opened sauces stored at room temperature are only good for about 6 months.
Some people just don’t like cold hot sauce. It’s okay, I get it. There are actually several benefits to this method of storage.
For one, sauces stored at room temperature are less prone to thickening or separation. When hot sauce is cold, it can sometimes separate or become thicker, which can make it less appealing to use. Additionally, when hot sauce is stored at room temperature, it is much easier to pour and use in dishes.
The main downside of keeping your sauce at room temp is the concern that the heat and humidity can cause the hot sauce to spoil more quickly. If the hot sauce is not properly sealed, it can also become contaminated by bacteria or mold, which can cause it to go bad.
Which Method is Best?
Ultimately, the best method for storing hot sauce will depend on a few different factors.
If you’re a slow sauce user - refrigerating it may be the best option. Additionally, if you live in a particularly hot or humid climate, storing hot sauce in the fridge may help to prevent spoilage.
On the other hand, if you use hot sauce frequently and don't like the taste or consistency of cold sauce, storing it at room temperature may be the best option.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how to store hot sauce. The best method will depend on your personal preferences, the type of hot sauce you are using, and the environment in which you live. Regardless of how you choose to store your hot sauce, it is important to properly seal it and ensure that it is not contaminated by bacteria or mold. By following these simple guidelines, you can ensure that your hot sauce stays fresh and flavorful for as long as possible.
In conclusion, my initial answer is still the best and avoids debate: Regardless of storage method, most hot sauce will last way longer than it should take you to use it.
Slather that shit on every meal and you won’t have a problem.