How Long Store-Bought Salsa Will Stay Fresh After Opening

Knowing how long the food in your refrigerator and pantry stays fresh can help ensure you always have ingredients on hand. It can be frustrating to begin making a recipe only to realize your salsa has gone bad, causing you to either change your plans or run to the store for more store-bought salsa in the middle of cooking. While spoiled food might not make you sick the way raw meat or food contaminated with pathogenic bacteria could, it won't taste very fresh, and it could ruin your entire recipe. In fact, the "best if used by" date on your salsa is a recommendation based on quality, not on safety. 


According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, store-bought salsa is good for one month if refrigerated after opening. If you haven't opened the jar yet, you have a year to use it from the date you purchased it. And while you can safely store your salsa in the pantry after opening, it will stay fresher for longer if you store it in the refrigerator at the appropriate temperature: 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

How to tell if your salsa has gone bad

If you're not sure when you opened your salsa — or even if you do know when you opened it but still are unsure of its quality — there are a few ways you can tell if your salsa has gone bad. The biggest tip is to rely on your own senses. An obvious tip-off would be mold. Check for mold in the salsa, on the rim, or even on the lid.


Additionally, if you open the jar a week after you first used it and it smells off, tastes strange, or otherwise doesn't seem fresh, it's best to go with your own judgment and toss it. Some other signs to look out for include a change in texture, a change in color, swelling in the lid or dents on the jar, and separation of ingredients. Additionally, if the lid doesn't pop when you first screw it off, it's best to throw it away because this means it may not have sealed properly. It's always better to buy a new jar of salsa or to pivot your dinner plans than to eat food that has gone bad.

How to ensure your salsa and other condiments stay fresh

Because many condiments are only fresh for a certain time after opening, it's helpful to know when you opened each item to maintain ultimate freshness. However, it can be difficult to remember when you opened all of your condiments, which is why it's nice to download the USDA's FoodKeeper app. Within the app, when searching for a food, there is an option to "add to calendar." This will auto-populate a calendar event reminding you to use your salsa (or any other condiment) within the specified time. If you get into the habit of doing this every time you open something new in your refrigerator or pantry, you can save a lot of guesswork and keep your food fresher.


Of course, when it comes to your salsa, it's best to store it in the refrigerator immediately after opening to keep it fresh. It's also important to keep in mind that the timelines and "fresh by" recommendations for salsa and other perishable items are not set in stone and are given based on peak freshness. Consider any expiration information on food packaging such as overall "best by" dates and "best by after opening" dates too.