Does Soy Sauce Go Bad?

Soy sauce is an essential part of many delicious dishes, especially East Asian cuisine, which is not surprising considering that’s where it came from. It originated over 2000 years ago in ancient China, but today, the popular condiment can be found in any restaurant or a household all over the world.

If you’re a fan of soy sauce and you have a bottle sitting in your pantry, you’ve probably wondered whether it can expire and go bad. After all, it’s a condiment just like ketchup or mayo. But the thing about soy sauce is that you’re going to use a bottle much longer than you would a bottle of ketchup, considering a small amount is enough for an entire meal. 

Just one spoon of soy sauce will suffice, and you should never get lost in the sauce because that one spoon, although low in calories(around 10), is high in sodium (307 mg). If you already haven’t, it’s definitely time to try the low sodium soy sauce. Ingesting too much sodium is not good for our health, and it can cause blood pressure issues, among other things.

These are the reasons most of us end up with a bottle of soy sauce collecting dust in our kitchen for months, maybe more. It’s crucial to know whether it goes bad, so you don’t put your health at risk. 

In this article, we’ve answered some of the most asked questions about soy sauce: Does soy sauce go bad? Will it expire even if stored properly? Can you get sick from expired soy sauce? To find out all this and more, keep reading!

See Also: Does BBQ Sauce Go Bad?


How To Store Soy Sauce?

Storing soy sauce depends on many factors, like whether the bottle is opened or unopened. As long as it’s unopened, it’s perfectly safe to store it in your pantry because it should be stored in a cool and dry place. Furthermore, make sure that the place you store soy sauce has a constant temperature, so it’s not near a stove or a dishwasher that could cause fluctuations in temperature. This goes for all food, not just soy sauce because frequent changes in air temperature could fasten the spoiling process.

On the other hand, if you have an open bottle of soy sauce, think about how much time you’ll need to finish it. If you’re going to use the entire bottle within a couple of months, you can store it in the pantry. However, if two months pass and you still haven’t finished the bottle, it’s best to place it in the fridge. It would probably still be okay in the pantry, but at this point, it will start to lose its original rich flavor if not kept in the fridge. Once you open the bottle, make sure it’s always sealed tightly so no air contaminants can enter it.

See Also: Can You Freeze Alfredo Sauce?


The Shelf Life Of Soy Sauce

Even though soy sauce doesn’t go bad for a long time, it still has a best-by date on the bottle. This date usually tells us how long it will retain its peak quality, and this is highly related to how you store it. 

If you keep an unopened bottle of soy sauce in the pantry, it can sit there for up to three years, sometimes more. And once you open it, it will still taste good for some time, depending on how long it was previously stored. Even after three years, the correctly stored soy sauce will likely be safe to consume, but it won’t taste nearly as good as a new. So maybe after three years have passed, it’s time to buy a new bottle.

How long soy sauce will retain its flavor and aroma depends on how it’s made. Naturally brewed and fermented soy sauce will begin to lose flavor faster than chemically processed ones. Many soy sauces nowadays are chemically processed because the natural way takes much longer, which doesn’t go hand in hand with the modern, fast way of life and mass production.

Different processes of brewing, fermentation, pasteurization, and stabilization affect the shelf life of soy sauce. Another critical factor is the type of soy sauce. 

Regular Soy Sauce

  • Regular soy sauces are made of soybeans, roasted wheat, and salt. Many of these sauces are chemically processed, with added preservatives that help them keep the flavor longer. This type of soy sauce will be fine to eat even after years of sitting unopened in the pantry. Keep in mind that these chemically processed sauces are very rich in sodium, so always make sure to get a low sodium option.

Shoyu And Tamari

  • Shoyu and Tamari are Japanese soy sauces. They are naturally brewed and fermented soy sauces, so their shelf life is a bit shorter than other sauces. Shoyu and Tamari are made half with soybeans, half with wheat. This gives it a naturally sweet flavor, which also means they’re not full of salt, i.e. sodium! Tamari is a good option if you need gluten-free soy sauce. An unopened bottle of these sauces will last for about two years in the pantry, while an opened bottle should be used within three months. After that, the flavor will begin to fade, but it’s still safe to consume, just not as delicious.
  • Let’s just say that an unopened bottle of soy sauce can last indefinitely in your pantry, even years after its expiration date. As for open bottles, the way you store them is crucial if you want them to retain their flavors longer.

How To Tell If Soy Sauce Has Gone Bad

It’s unlikely your soy sauce will go bad, but it can happen, mostly due to incorrect storing. If you find a bottle of soy sauce without the lid, you can be sure it’s contaminated and probably no longer good. You can pour some on a plate, and if there are floating pieces or particles, throw it away. 

The smell is always a good indicator of food spoilage. If you feel a strong, foul odor upon opening the bottle, your soy sauce has definitely gone bad. Also, if you notice any mold in or on the bottle, don’t bother smelling or pouring it, you should throw it away immediately.

Don’t be alarmed if your soy sauce changes color and flavor. This will happen naturally once you open the bottle and oxygen enters it. Once the oxidation process starts, soy sauce will become darker in color, and eventually, the flavor and aromas will begin to fade, but this is not an indication it’s gone bad – it’s still safe to consume.


Can You Get Sick From Expired Soy Sauce?

Technically, no, you can’t get sick from expired soy sauce. But you can get sick from soy sauce that’s gone bad, even if it’s not necessarily expired. As we already mentioned, soy sauce can last for years after its expiration date, and be perfectly safe to eat. It may not have the original, strong flavor, but it won’t make you sick (that is if you stored it properly).

However, spoiled soy sauce can make you sick, so if you notice any of the indicators it’s gone bad, like the smell, mold, etc., don’t risk your health, just throw it away and get a new bottle.


Does Soy Sauce Go Bad – Final Thoughts

Whether you enjoy Chinese soy sauce, Japanese Shoyu, or Tamari, you can rest assured they won’t go bad even after a few years. Shoyu and Tamari might go bad faster than others because they’re naturally brewed, but they’re also a healthier option, especially Tamari, which is gluten-free. Just something to keep in mind if you’re trying to have a healthy diet, or you happen to be allergic to gluten.

Most best-by dates indicate that soy sauce will retain its peak quality for up to three years, but it’s actually even longer if you keep it unopened in a dry and cool place. Even open bottles can be good for months, just make sure to store them in the fridge.

The bottom line is – soy sauce can last indefinitely. Of course, the shelf life of soy sauce depends on many things, like proper storing, type of soy sauce, way of brewing and fermentation, and so on.

This is good news for everyone who can’t get enough of the saucy condiment, but let’s be honest – will you ever leave a bottle of the delicious soy sauce to sit in your pantry for more than three years? We know we won’t!

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