Does Marinara Sauce Go Bad? Find Out the Truth Here!

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Fun Fact: Marinara means sailor-style or mariner style. The name came about because the pasta sauce was the preferred meal of most Italian merchants on their long sea expeditions.

It has been a their-go-to dish on the seas because of its simplicity and ease of preparation—which are the same reasons we continue to enjoy this dish today.

Since the marinara sauce is easy to prepare, most of us love making it in bulk, but won’t it get spoiled?

Does Marinara sauce go bad?

Short answer: Yes, the marinara sauce can go bad. Even if the pasta sauce is highly acidic, bacteria and mold can still grow in the sauce over time. The good thing is that you can extend the sauce’s shelf life with proper storage.

So how do you store marinara sauce? Continue reading to find out

Here are also the other questions we’ll answer in this article:

  • What is marinara sauce (and how does it differ from tomato sauce)?
  • How to tell if the marinara sauce has gone bad (and what happens when you eat it)?
  • How long does marinara sauce last?
  • How to store marinara sauce the right way?

Are you ready to discover everything you need to know about marinara sauce? If so, let’s get this pasta started!

What is Marinara Sauce?

Simply put, marinara sauce is a simple tomato-based pasta sauce made with basil, red pepper, and garlic. This is made by simmering fresh tomatoes for about an hour and then adding the spices and herbs.

Many people often use tomato sauce when referring to marinara sauce, but these sauces are two different types.

Did you know?
Marinara sauce is a thin and simple sauce that cooks quickly, while tomato sauce is rich, complex, and thick and often takes hours to cook. Additionally, tomato sauce sometimes contains ground meat and vegetables—two ingredients you won’t commonly find in a marinara sauce.

How Long Does Marinara Sauce Last?

Since the marinara sauce is tomato-based, it’s highly acidic, so it can last for a few days without spoiling.

So how long does marinara sauce last? This depends on the type of marinara sauce, how it’s stored, and whether it’s opened or unopened. To help you out, we’ve prepared a simple shelf life table below:

Type of Marinara SauceStorage MethodShelf Life
HomemadeRefrigerated4 to 5 days
Canned/ Jarred (Unopened)Room TemperatureBest By date + 3 months
Canned/ Jarred (Opened)Refrigerated5 days
Canned/ Jarred (Opened)Frozen3 months

Homemade marinara sauces have a shorter shelf life since they don’t contain artificial preservatives that are most commonly found in canned or jarred store-bought marinara sauces.

On the other hand, the best by date of commercially available sauces is usually 12 to 24 months after the manufacturing date. The good news is that most sauces are still safe for consumption for 3 months after the best date.

Just please take note that all the provided information is just estimated. These rules apply as long as the sauce doesn’t show spoilage signs.

How Can You Tell if Marinara Sauce Has Already Gone Bad?

With that in mind, how can you tell if the sauce is no longer safe for consumption? You need to inspect it and look for any signs of spoilage. Here are the few telltale signs that you should look out for:

1. Sour Smell

The most common sign of spoilage would be a sour or off smell. For example, Marina sauce smells a bit tart and garlicky. It might be the best time to throw it away if it starts to smell like vinegar.

2. Changes in Color and Texture

Since the sauce is tomato-based, it has a vibrant red color and a thin consistency. When it starts to spoil, its color will turn darker. It will also begin to thicken. If this is the case, you may want to dispose of it immediately.

3. Mold Growth

Is there a fuzzy white or green growth at the surface of the sauce? If yes, discard the sauce immediately.

What Happens When You Eat Spoiled Marinara Sauce?

Inspecting the sauce before using it is crucial because consuming spoiled marinara sauce is not suitable for your health.

If you accidentally consumed a marinara sauce that has gone bad, you might experience food poisoning symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. (*)

You might experience this a few days after eating the spoiled sauce. However, once you start noticing any of the abovementioned symptoms, you should seek medical attention.

How to Store Marinara Sauce the Right Way

The best way to prevent the consumption of spoiled marinara sauce is to store the sauce the right way. To do that, here are the proper food storage tips that you can follow:

1. Don’t mix the sauce into the pasta just yet.

To extend the shelf life of your sauce, we don’t recommend storing it mixed in pasta. This is because the cooked pasta will get spoiled faster and will certainly hasten the spoilage of your sauce in the process.

As much as possible, store only the marinara sauce—no other ingredients mixed in.

2. Store canned or jarred marinara sauce in a cool and dark place.

Exposure to heat and light will cause the sauce to spoil faster.

Did you know?
The best storage temperature for marinara sauce should be less than 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Keep homemade marinara sauce and opened jarred or canned marinara sauce in the refrigerator.

Once opened, the sauce should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage.

4. Transfer the sauce into an airtight container.

Doing this would protect the sauce from air exposure which may cause its quality to degrade.

5. To extend the shelf life of marinara sauce, freeze it.

Freezing it would prolong its shelf life for a few months. Let the marinara sauce cool down first. After that, transfer the sauce into either freezer-safe containers or resealable plastic bags.

Pro Tip: Leave a small space at the top portion of the bag or container to give the sauce enough room to expand while it freezes.

Final Words

Marinara sauce is one of the most versatile pasta sauces available today, so it makes sense to whip up an entire big batch of it.

But does marinara sauce go bad? Unfortunately, it does, so the best thing you can do is to store it properly to make it last longer. Additionally, you should always inspect the sauce for any signs of spoilage before using it to prevent food poisoning.

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