Apple sauce is a blended or mashed sauce fittingly made of apples and several additives that may contribute to their shelf-life. Popular and relatively cheap throughout much of the western world, apple sauce is often purchased in family-size containers at local grocery chains and markets.
With a pureed texture and a tart-sweet taste, apple sauce is often packaged and advertised as a favorite snack for children in school lunches, and as such raises the question of how long it may last in certain conditions before spoiling.
The exact length of time that apple sauce will remain safe to eat depends on a variety of factors, of which are two primary things to focus on; whether you have purchased commercially available apple sauce with its preservative additives and sterilization, and whether you are attempting to store apple sauce that has already been exposed to the open air. Generally, applesauce will last up to two weeks commercially purchased and still packaged.
Should You Freeze Apple Sauce?
As a form of significantly long-term storage, choosing to freeze apple sauce is an excellent idea should you wish to keep it preserved for some time. Keep in mind, however, that if you have incorporated butter or some other lipid-based substance into the apple sauce, it will separate and form a hardened layer atop the apple sauce.
Additionally, it is important to move the apple sauce to a vessel large enough to contain it after freezing, especially if you are choosing to freeze commercially purchased apple sauce. This is because water present within the apple sauce will expand once frozen, potentially rupturing and cracking containers that are far too small.
How Long Does Apple Sauce Last at Room Temperature?
While commercially packaged and sterilized apple sauce can last for quite a length of time in a room temperature pantry or kitchen counter-top, home-made apple sauce does not possess the added preservatives and sterilized packaging that its mass-manufactured counterpart has.
Because of this significant difference in shelf-life, this question must be answered in two parts, that of home-made apple sauce and commercial apple sauce.
How Long Does Home-Made Apple Sauce Last at Room Temperature?
Home-made apple sauce will only last for approximately three days so long as it is kept in an air-tight and sealed container, far from sources of direct light and heat. Keep in mind that this is only a rough approximation, and it is likely your home-made apple sauce will display signs of spoilage or degradation sooner than this.
It is advisable to first inspect your apple sauce for signs of spoilage prior to consuming it. Do not attempt to do this by tasting it, as it could result in food poisoning or a host of other diseases.
How Long Does Commercial Apple Sauce Last at Room Temperature?
Commercially available apple-sauce, however, will last for up to an entire year after the best-by date printed on the packaging. However, this no longer applies if you have previously opened the container, as doing so will introduce contaminants to the apple sauce, such as bacteria and fungi as well as moisture from the air.
Generally, the rules that you must adhere to when storing apple-sauce at room temperature are the same. Keep the container of home made or purchased apple sauce away from direct sources of heat and light, such as radiators, stoves, or open windows that sunlight may pass through.
How Long Does Home-Made Apple Sauce Last in the Fridge?
Homemade applesauce can last for just over a week when stored in the refrigerator, though this may be shortened if stored in the improper manner.
To ensure that as little excess moisture is present within the apple sauce’s storage container, first allow it to cool if you have only recently cooked it. This will present steam from rising out of the apple sauce and forming condensation on the walls of the container.
Additionally, introducing other ingredients into the apple sauce such as salt and sugar will extend its shelf-life somewhat, as these ingredients provide a less welcoming environment for bacteria and fungi. This is the opposite effect, however, if you choose to add things such as cream or milk, as their total shelf-life is shorter than that of apple sauce itself and thus will cause it to expire more quickly.
How Long Does Commercial Apple Sauce Last in the Fridge?
On the other hand, if you are storing commercially produced apple sauce in the refrigerator, it will last approximately the same length of time that it would at room temperature; up to one year after the best-by date printed on the packaging.
However, should you have opened the commercially purchased apple sauce instead, it will last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. This drastic change in shelf-life is often because of microbial life being introduced to the apple sauce by air-flow, of which is largely unavoidable once the packaging is opened.
How Long Does Apple Sauce Last in the Freezer?
Unlike simply storing them in a room temperature environment or in your refrigerator, choosing to freeze your apple sauce provides little difference between the home-made and commercially produced kind.
Stored in the best possible way, apple sauce can last for up to nine months in the freezer, though this requires certain steps to be taken.
As previously mentioned in this article, first allow your apple sauce to cool off if it has just recently been cooked or reheated in order to prevent the formation of condensation from steam. These water droplets, once condensed inside the apple sauce container, will crystallize and make thawing the apple sauce difficult.
It is also advisable to keep the container of apple sauce in the deepest part of your freezer, away from quickly moving sources of cold air such as freezer fans or vents, as these can cause freezer burn which will affect the texture of the apple sauce and potentially cause separation of its constituent ingredients.
What Factors Extend the Shelf-life of Apple Sauce?
In commercially produced apple sauce, additives such as citric acid and other compounds are introduced into its ingredients both to reduce the effect of oxidation on the sugars present within the apple sauce as well as to discourage microbial growth by creating an environment hostile to their propagation. This is further compounded by the heating of apple sauce, which will kill or otherwise render any microbes present incapable of reproduction.
However, in home made apple sauce, these chemicals and sterilization procedures are difficult to reproduce, especially for the average home chef. Instead, the home chef may add other ingredients that contribute to the extension of its shelf-life, such as salt or acidic ingredients.
Storing the apple sauce in low temperatures will also significantly lengthen its shelf-life by slowing down the propagation of microbial life. Keep in mind, though, that this will not slow down the oxidation of your apple sauce, which can result in discoloration and a decrease in the intensity of its flavor.
1. Tim Buford. (2013) “Recommended Uses of Apple Varieties”, in Tim Burford, Apples of North America: Exceptional Varieties for Gardeners, Growers, and Cooks, 2013
2. Unknown Author. “Regular applesauce”. FoodData Central, US Department of Agriculture. 30 October 2020.