So, you’ve bought yourself a few bottles of barbecue sauce just as fall turns to winter and are now wondering what to do with it. The chances are high that it won’t get used again until the weather improves dramatically, which may take as long as 6 whole months to happen. Most likely, it will end up in the fridge occupying space for this entire period, making you wonder will it last for the duration of the winter. In this event, there is some logic in repurposing it as an indoor use ingredient. But, though this is a viable option, it just isn’t anywhere near as magical as getting to use it in the great outdoors – as it was intended.
It is true to say we live in hectic times. Few of us have the time or the will during the colder months to get marinades together and attempt to replicate the flavors of a real barbecue. Others would argue that it simply can’t be done, which we would wholeheartedly agree with. So, in order to ensure that the whole lot of that sweet barbecue nectar doesn’t end up going to waste, we thought we would put together a list of hints and tips to make sure that your barbecue sauce lasts the duration of the winter. With this, we’ll be talking storage tips, sell-by dates, and how to tell the signs that your sauce is no longer any good. So fear not bulk-buyers of delicious summertime sauces, if you want to know how to preserve your supply, we’ve got your back!
The Best Way to Store Barbecue Sauce
First up, we have some good news. Barbecue sauce isn’t all that complicated to preserve over long time periods. It doesn’t come with any bizarre or complicated storage procedures like burying it in the ground or anything like that. Instead, the best way to think of it is like a hot sauce. Now, what do you do with your hot sauce? If you are like us, it sits in the pantry until it is opened for the first time, and after that, it dwells in the fridge until it’s gone. Seems that we never have to throw it out, really. So, for unopened bottles, you can simply tuck them away in any cool and dark environment and they won’t complain one bit. Unopened bottles can be put into the fridge, but there isn’t really any purpose in doing so. The fridge won’t extend its lifespan and it’s just going to wind up taking up valuable fridge space – a precious commodity when it gets to the holiday season.
As we said earlier, the best way to store barbecue sauce after the seal has been broken is to keep it in the fridge. This is because, once it has been opened, the air that it has come into contact with will begin to age it at a rapid rate. So, like you would with hot sauce, simply put the lid back on nice and tight and shove it into the fridge. That being said, if you expect to finish the contents of the bottle entirely within the space of a week or two, putting it back into the larder or a cabinet will do just fine.
Extra hints and tips
While storing and occasionally using your barbecue sauce, there are a couple of pitfalls to be avoided. One thing that can happen that could ruin your sauce is when extra contaminants get into the bottle – bits of other foods and things like that. Generally, most of us get a little messy when we barbecue, after all, it is the spirit of the thing and part and parcel of the experience. But, what can happen as a result is that a dirty utensil could wind up being reused, transferring another food type into the bottle. When this happens, bacteria can end up being introduced too, causing bacteria to grow in it. Take a little care to make sure that your utensils are clean to avoid this happening and your sauce will thank you for it.
How Long Does Barbecue Sauce Last?
The answer to this is simply that it depends. Some types of barbecue sauce will have higher amounts of ingredients such as sugar and vinegar. These ingredients act as natural preservatives, as does salt, helping your sauce to last longer. However, most bottles of barbecue sauce come with a sell-by date, which is at least some way useful for letting you know how long it is going to last. But there are ways to extend that date further. If you follow the storage tips above, there is no reason that an unopened bottle won’t still be good up to 6 months after the sell-by date. That’s going to cover you for the whole of the wet season! However, this changes a bit if the bottle has been opened already.
As soon as the bottle of barbecue sauce has been opened, the countdown clock starts ticking immediately as it slowly begins to diminish in quality. There’s really no avoiding this, but thankfully, due to the high concentrate of vinegar in most barbecue sauces, it will still last a good while. If stored correctly in the fridge any time an opened bottle isn’t in use, there is no reason on earth that it won’t still be good 3 or even 4 months later.
Homemade barbecue sauce
For the real purists out there who live to make their own signature barbecue flavors, the news isn’t all that good I’m afraid. Homemade barbecue sauce simply doesn’t store as well as the commercially sold stuff. The simple reason for this is that it isn’t (unless you’re working some real magic) heat-treated or pasteurized. The best call with the homemade stuff is to only make as much as you are going to use in a week or so, because after that it isn’t going to last much longer. We would estimate that the longest a homemade sauce is going to last is two weeks, tops. After this, though it may not grow legs and walk, it will have lost quite a bit of its flavor.
Signs That Your Barbecue Sauce May Have Gone Off
In most cases, barbecue sauce won’t really begin to turn really bad until a long time after its sell-by date has been and gone. What will happen first is almost worse, in a way. It will simply begin to shed all of its flavor and aroma and just taste flat. Let’s face it; nobody wants that! Nevertheless, to spot whether your barbecue sauce has gone bad, there are a few easy tests that you can do. The first one is simply to trust in your sense of smell to guide you. Simply, if it smells different than how it should – it’s gone!
The next test is much more obvious and checks for the signs that your sauce may have gotten contaminated by something else at some point. What you will be doing is having a good look for any signs of discoloration or mold in the bottle. Generally, the spot that you’ll see the mold is at the top of the liquid level, where it has had contact with air. If you notice any, don’t try to save the rest of the contents of the bottle as they are also going to be no good. If your bottle has passed these tests, the chances are that it is good, but it is still a good plan to have a tiny taste of it to make sure. It might have just gone flat.
Should Barbecue Sauce be Refrigerated?
Opened bottles of barbecue sauce should always be refrigerated if they are not going to be finished in the next week or so. However, what you might not have known is that barbecue sauce can be frozen in the case of an emergency. Let’s say for example that you have made a huge batch of homemade sauce and you know you don’t have a chance of finishing it in the next week. When this happens, the best thing to do is to freeze it. Bear in mind, it won’t quite be the same after it has thawed out, but at least it’s better than having to throw it all out.
Barbecue Sauce Storage, Sell-by Dates, and Other Related Question
What is in barbecue sauce?
Though this is subject to vary, most traditional barbecue sauces are generally built upon these foundations: vinegar, tomato paste, mustard, liquid smoke, onion powder, and sweeteners such as sugar or molasses.
Is barbecue sauce keto?
Unfortunately, most barbecue sauces out there aren’t keto-friendly due to their high content of sugars (which are carbs). The good news is that there are a few brands out there making quality keto barbecue sauces. The ‘Primal Kitchen’ brand is one such sauce that you may be able to find at your local supermarket.