Ketchup can go bad over time, especially in an opened bottle, but it can have a very long shelf life if you know how to store it. But you can only enjoy ketchup’s long shelf life if you know how to preserve it and how to tell when it has gone bad.
Ketchup can last up to a year past its best-by date as long as it remains sealed, but once the seal is opened the ketchup will go bad after a month in the pantry or a year in the refrigerator. Ketchup, both sealed and unsealed, can easily last two years in the freezer as long as it’s in the right container.
While ketchup can go bad, there are ways to preserve it for a long time if you know how to store it.
Does Ketchup Go Bad? How Long Does Ketchup Last?
How you should store ketchup and how long it lasts depends on whether or not you’ve opened the bottle, since ketchup needs extra help to stay fresh once the seal is broken.
How Long Does Ketchup Last Outside
Unopened ketchup can last up to a year past the best-by date printed on the bottle, so you don’t have to worry about sealed ketchup going bad in the pantry for quite some time.
Once you open the bottle, however, ketchup will only last a month at most in the pantry as the bottle is no longer sealed to prevent the ketchup from going bad and the pantry does nothing to extend the bottle’s shelf life.
Because of this it is best to move ketchup from the pantry or cupboard to the refrigerator once you open it to get the most out of its shelf life.
How Long Does Ketchup Last in the Fridge
Putting unopened ketchup in the refrigerator does nothing to extend its shelf life, but it does keep the bottle cool if you enjoy cold ketchup, so you can store sealed ketchup in the fridge.
The main area where the fridge becomes helpful is with unsealed ketchup since the refrigerator can prevent the unprotected ketchup from going bad for up to a year past the opening date.
Because of this, ketchup can survive for up to two years before going bad if you keep the bottle in the pantry for a long time before strategically moving it to the fridge after opening it.
How Long Does Ketchup Last in the Freezer
Ketchup can be frozen very easily and will last up to two years past the best-by date if the bottle is still sealed or two years past the date the bottle was opened.
While freezing can double the shelf life of ketchup, it can also be inconvenient to you or even damaging to the ketchup, having to be constantly thawed and refrozen whenever you want to enjoy some ketchup.
One way to get around this issue is to freeze ketchup in multiple, smaller amounts so you only have to unfreeze one or two containers at a time instead of the entire bottle.
Ketchup can last up to a year in the pantry as long as it is sealed, and up to a year in the fridge or two in the freezer after being opened.
How To Tell If Ketchup Has Gone Bad / How To Know Ketchup is Fresh
Due to its long shelf life both before and after being opened, as well as most ketchup coming in an airtight container, it can be hard to tell when exactly a bottle of ketchup has gone bad. If you want to know the status of your ketchup you will need to look at other factors to figure out whether your bottle is still useable or not.
Color. The most obvious sign that your ketchup has gone bad is if the contents of the bottle have started to change color or texture, like developing dark or fuzzy patches. This is usually the last sign that a bottle has gone bad, however, and there are other indications of ketchup quality that you can see before mold sets in.
Smell. The first indication that your ketchup has gone bad is a sour or acidic smell coming from the bottle, since this means the ketchup is starting to go bad. Foul smells of any kind are a sign that something has changed in your food and you should throw it out as soon as possible since it might be dangerous.
Taste. Just like with smell, another clear sign that your food is starting to go bad is a sudden change in flavor, usually to become more sour, bitter, or acidic. While this will generally be accompanied by a bad smell, you can have ketchup that smells fine but tastes terrible, and in either case you should throw the bottle out as soon as possible.
How to Store Ketchup?
Before you put ketchup in the refrigerator or freezer, it is important to know how to keep ketchup safe in the pantry, otherwise it might go bad long before you get a chance to preserve it. Since refrigerators and freezers provide a stable and controlled environment, you only need to worry about proper storage with ketchup in the pantry.
Keep ketchup in a cool, dark area. Light and heat are two factors that make chemical reactions happen more quickly, and this can cause foods like ketchup to go bad much faster than normal. The best way to store ketchup, sealed or otherwise, is in a tightly closed bottle in a cool, dark, dry environment like a pantry or cupboard.
Can You Freeze Ketchup? How?
Freezing ketchup is a great way to preserve the condiment long term, but freezing can also cause ketchup to go bad early if you are not careful. Before you attempt to freeze ketchup, you should consider the following steps to make sure you do so in the safest and most efficient way possible.
Do not freeze glass bottles. Glass bottles shrink slightly in extreme cold while ketchup, which is largely made of water, starts to expand when frozen. Because of this, freezing a glass bottle of ketchup can lead to the bottle cracking or even shattering in the freezer, potentially leaving jagged edges of glass scattered throughout your freezer.
Consider multiple containers. Thawing and refreezing the same item over and over again can cause freezer over time damage, so a better way to preserve ketchup is to freeze it in small amounts to use as needed. Ice trays and small plasticware containers work great for this, as long as you keep the ketchup in an airtight and freezer safe container.
How to Thaw Ketchup?
Thawing ketchup is an extremely easy process that just involves leaving the ketchup out on the counter, ideally away from light and heat, until it thaws.
You should not try to heat up frozen ketchup since the sudden change in temperature can damage both the ketchup and the cold container it’s in.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ketchup’s Shelf Life
Once you understand how the seal on ketchup effects its shelf life, knowing how to store ketchup and how long it lasts in specific conditions becomes easy. There are still some mysteries to how to use ketchup, and this article will answer two of them below to help clear up some of these questions.
Can you make ketchup at home? Yes, ketchup can be made at home in a similar way to tomato paste or sauce, and is very easy to make once you have a recipe. As for its shelf life, since ketchup made this way is never sealed you should treat it like unsealed ketchup, with a shelf life of one month in a pantry, one year in a refrigerator, and two years in a freezer.
How do you get the most ketchup out of the bottle? Ketchup is notorious for being hard to get out of the bottle, so one way to speed this process along is to store bottled ketchup upside down, as long as the bottle has a closed lid. This way, as long as you open the bottle right side up you should have no problem squeezing ketchup out.
Ketchup can go bad, but under the right conditions it can easily last a year or more in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. The key to storing ketchup is knowing how its shelf life changes once the bottle is opened.