Here's How Long You Should Keep Homemade Pasta Sauce

Pre-made pasta sauce is a great pantry staple to keep on hand for a quick and easy dinner option. But if you made the sauce yourself, it's hard to tell when the jar may be past its best-by date. The truth, of course, is that the way the sauce is stored will greatly impact how long it will last after its creation. According to Kitchenistic, the key to keeping homemade sauces fresh as longs as possible is an airtight container. Any receptacle will work, be it a plastic bag, jar or Tupperware, as long as the seal it tight. Kitchenistic explains that the goal of the airtight seal is to prevent oxidation, which will cause your precious sauce to expire "over 40 percent faster."

Even when properly stored in the refrigerator, a homemade sauce won't have the lifespan of a store-bought one, as it lacks any type of preservative. Shelley Feist, executive director of partnership for Food Safety Education told Martha Stewart that cracked-open store-bought jar of tomato sauce can be "stored safely in the refrigerator for five to seven days before being used." For homemade sauces, the number of days reduces to about three to five, if all goes well.

How to tell a homemade sauce is expired

So how can you tell if a homemade sauce is past its prime, without an expiration date to go by?

Martha Stewart explains that, unless you see mold, it's likely the sauce will have limited visual clues of expiration. For tomato-based sauces, Kitchenistic suggests keeping a keen eye on color. If the sauce is turning from bold, bright red to a darker maroon, it's starting its decline. Martha Stewart says that many foodborne bacteria that could make you sick aren't detectable, so to avoid the side effects of a slightly spoiled sauce, make sure to reheat to at least 145 degrees.

To keep a sauce for longer than a few days, the easy solution is to move it from the fridge to the freezer, where a sauce in an airtight container can last for six months. But be warned, freezing a homemade sauce that contains cream or cheese will cause a curdled mess of a meal upon reheating. So when freezing, stick to milk and cheese-free sauce varieties.