Enchilada sauce is a beloved condiment in Mexican cuisine that is known for its remarkably rich, savory flavors. It has the power to elevate a variety of dishes including tacos and enchiladas with its spicy goodness.
So, no matter if it’s the vibrant red, zesty green, or the complex mole variety, enchilada sauce adds a distinctive flair to countless recipes.
However, like many perishable foods, enchilada sauce has a limited shelf life and understanding how long it can last in the fridge is essential to maintain its quality and safety.
So, if you’ve ever wondered: “How long does enchilada sauce last in the fridge?” – read on to find your answers.
In this article, we will explore the shelf life of enchilada sauce, provide guidance on proper storage, and offer tips to extend its freshness, ensuring you can savor the delicious flavors of this versatile sauce for as long as possible.
How long does enchilada sauce last in the fridge?
Enchilada sauce, when stored in the refrigerator, can maintain its quality and safety for only a limited time. Once opened, enchilada sauce can last for 7-8 days maximum and it is advisable to use the sauce within this certain period to enjoy the optimal taste and quality.
On the other hand, unopened bottles or cans of enchilada sauce typically have a shelf life of around 6 months to even 2 years when refrigerated.
While homemade enchilada sauce tends to have a slightly shorter lifespan. When stored in the fridge, homemade enchilada sauce can maintain its freshness for around 4-7 days when properly sealed in an airtight container.
However, this time period is not exact and it may vary based on several factors like ingredients, preservatives, and proper storage in airtight containers.
Can you freeze enchilada sauce?
Yes, of course you can freeze enchilada sauce. Freezing is indeed a viable option to extend its shelf life beyond what refrigeration allows.
Freezing enchilada sauce is particularly handy if you’ve made a large batch or have an opened container that you want to preserve for later use.
Frozen enchilada sauce can last for up to 3 to 6 months without a significant loss in quality. When you’re ready to use it, simply thaw it in the refrigerator and then reheat it.
This method not only prevents wastage but also ensures you have a flavorful sauce readily available for your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes.
How to freeze enchilada sauce?
Freezing enchilada sauce is a super simple and easy process. Here are the steps that you can follow to freeze the sauce:
- Cool the sauce: Allow the sauce to cool completely before freezing.
- Portion: Transfer the sauce into airtight, freezer-safe containers or resealable bags.
- Leave Room: Leave some space at the top to allow for expansion as the sauce freezes.
- Label: Clearly label the containers or bags with the date for easy reference.
- Freeze: Place the containers in the freezer, where the sauce can be stored for up to 3 to 6 months.
How to make enchilada sauce at home?
Here is a quick and easy recipe for homemade enchilada sauce. Let’s have a look;
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Salt to taste
- In a saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Stir in the flour and cook for about one minute.
- Stir the mixture constantly until it turns a light golden brown.
- Add the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano. Stir for about a minute to bloom the spices.
- Gradually whisk in the broth to avoid lumps.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
- Season with salt to taste and remove from heat.
How to store enchilada sauce?
Storing enchilada sauce properly is crucial to maintain its freshness and safety. Here’s how to store enchilada sauce:
- Cool It: Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before storing. Hot sauce can raise the temperature inside your refrigerator and affect other items.
- Choose the Right Container: Transfer the sauce into airtight containers or glass jars with a tight-sealing lid. If you have an opened can, you can also use a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid.
- Label and Date: Label the container with the date of preparation or the expiration date if it’s a store-bought sauce. This helps you keep track of its freshness.
- Seal Tightly: Ensure the container is sealed tightly to prevent air from getting in because it can lead to spoilage.
- Storage: Place the container in the refrigerator if you plan to use it within 7-8 days or in the freezer for longer storage.
- Freezing: If freezing, leave some room at the top for expansion and label the container with the date for easy reference.
Is enchilada sauce healthy?
The healthiness of enchilada sauce largely depends on its ingredients and how it is used. Traditional enchilada sauce typically contains ingredients like tomatoes, chili peppers, and various seasonings which can be a source of vitamins, antioxidants, and flavor.
However, many commercial varieties may also contain added sugars, sodium, and preservatives. When prepared at home with fresh, wholesome ingredients, enchilada sauce can be a nutritious addition to your meal.
How to tell if enchilada sauce has gone bad?
To determine if enchilada sauce has gone bad, use your senses and look for the following signs:
- Off Odor: If the sauce emits a sour, rancid, or unusual odor, it is a clear indicator that it has spoiled.
- Unusual Texture: Second sign is unusual texture. Fresh enchilada sauce should have a smooth consistency. If you notice any mold, separation, or an off-putting texture like clumps or curdles, it’s best to discard it.
- Unusual Color: A significant change in color such as discoloration or darkening can be a sign of spoilage.
- Taste: If the sauce tastes off, rancid, or significantly different from its normal flavor, it is best not to use it.
- Bloating or Gas Release: When you open the container, if you notice a significant release of gas or the lid is bulging, it may indicate bacterial activity and spoilage.
Tips to prolong the shelf life
To prolong the shelf life of enchilada sauce, consider these tips:
- Store opened or homemade sauce in the refrigerator within two hours of cooking or opening the container to slow down bacterial growth.
- Seal the sauce in airtight containers to prevent air and moisture from getting in.
- Label containers with the date to keep track of freshness and use older sauce before newer batches.
- Use clean utensils and avoid double-dipping to prevent contamination when scooping out sauce.
- If you won’t use the sauce within a week, freeze it in portion-sized containers to extend its shelf life for several months.
Can you eat expired enchilada sauce?
Consuming expired enchilada sauce is not advisable as it may pose health risks and cause problems like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps due to potential spoilage or bacterial growth.
How do you fix too spicy enchilada sauce?
To tone down overly spicy enchilada sauce, you can add ingredients like dairy (sour cream or yogurt) or sugar (honey or brown sugar) to mellow the heat. Start with small amounts then taste and adjust as needed until the desired level of spiciness is achieved.
Why does my enchilada sauce taste sour?
Sourness in enchilada sauce can result from overuse of acidic ingredients like vinegar or citrus, or from the sauce being overcooked. To fix it, you can try adding a pinch of sugar or honey to balance the flavors.
Enchilada sauce is a versatile and flavorful addition to many dishes and knowing how to store it properly is essential for enjoying its full potential.
Whether it is store-bought or homemade enchilada sauce, following guidelines for refrigeration will help you savor this Mexican culinary delight while minimizing food waste and ensuring a safe culinary experience.
So, whip up your enchiladas, tacos, or other favorite dishes with confidence and relish the vibrant flavors of well-preserved enchilada sauce.
Patti began her writing career as a staff writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Still based in Florida, Patti serves as editor for Fort Lauderdale on the Cheap. She regularly writes about environmental, home improvement, education, recycling, art, architecture, wildlife, travel and pet topics.