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What Is the Shelf-life of Opened Pasta Sauce?

 How long does jarred (commercial) spaghetti sauce stay good in the refrigerator after it has been opened? I toss it after 3 days – am I wasting money or being smart? Yeah, yeah, I know store-bought is yucky, but it is all my son will eat.

 Sauce manufacturers are a little coy on this subject. The Web site for one of the leading sauce producers has a list of frequently asked questions. They put your question at the bottom of the list, wrote four or five words, then either stopped writing or the rest of the answer mysteriously disappeared. Seriously, there's the beginning of a sentence and nothing else.

But that's better than the sites of some other sauce manufacturers, which say nothing at all! The best information we can find says tomato sauces keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days (and can be frozen for "several" months), while cheese sauces will last only 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

We have kept tomato sauces for a good deal longer than 4 to 5 days and used them, but you are definitely courting the development of mold in your sauce the longer you wait – and if the mold is just starting to develop, you are quite likely not going to be able to see it. And, just as with mayonnaise (or any bottled food you return to the refrigerator), if you get contaminants in it, it will develop mold that much faster.

So yes, you are erring on the side of caution, but only by a day or so.

It may sound like we're always encouraging (taunting) people to make everything from scratch, to shop daily for the freshest ingredients, and to avoid processed foods like a plague. Truth is, we also live in the real world, juggling jobs, families, time, money, and our children's and guests' taste buds. We very often make cooking compromises and recognize that all of our readers do, too. Keeping your son fed, and safely fed, is more important to us than you killing yourself (and turning into a grumpy mom) by always having to make everything from scratch.

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