The date stamped on a condiment bottle provides a starting guideline for determining how long to store it. Most condiments don't come with a true expiration, but instead are stamped with “use by” dates. Although the product doesn't automatically spoil on this date, quality and flavor does decline. After you open condiments, you must store them properly and use them promptly or they can spoil. If a condiment ever develops an off color, texture or odor, don't chance illness -- dispose of it immediately.
Unopened bottles and jars of ketchup, salsa, barbecue sauce and chili sauce last up to 12 months in the pantry or refrigerator, or until the expiration date stamped on the packaging. The shelf life varies greatly once you open the container. Ketchup and chili sauce keep for up to six months if you store them in a 40-degree Fahrenheit or colder refrigerator, but only one month if you keep them in the pantry at room temperature. Barbecue sauce remains good for four months in the fridge and only one month in the pantry. Once opened, salsa, chutney and taco sauces must remain refrigerated and they only last one month.
Salad Dressings and Spreads
Commercial salad dressings, both creamy types such as ranch and vinegar-based types such as Italian, keep for 10 to 12 months or until the stamped expiration date in the pantry or refrigerator if the factory seal is unbroken. Once you open it, you should keep the dressing refrigerated and use it within two to three months. Mayonnaise and similar sandwich spreads remain good for two to three months unopened in the pantry or refrigerator, and for about two months once opened. Dispose of these condiments promptly if they develop an off odor, flavor or color.
Vinegar-based condiments, such as mustard, relish and horseradish, keep for 12 months or until the expiration date in unopened jars in the pantry. An open mustard container can still keep for 12 months if you store it in the refrigerator, but it can spoil within one month if you keep it at room temperature. An open container of relish lasts six months refrigerated and should not be stored in the pantry. Horseradish only lasts about four months in the refrigerator after you open the container.
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Sauces and Spreads
For unopened sauces, the stamped expiration date provides the best guide for how long they will keep. Usually shelf stable products, such as tartar sauce, are sold unrefrigerated and last at least 12 months; you'll need to refrigerate after opening, though. Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce remain good for up to two years after opening if you store them in the refrigerator. Nut-based condiment spreads have varying dates. You can store hummus for only one week in the fridge, but tahini will keep for up to a month. Peanut butter stores well for up to four months unrefrigerated in the pantry.
Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.