You’ve been asking yourself for some time: does pesto go bad? It depends on what kind of pesto you’re talking about and how you store it. So let’s get into it!
We’re going to tell you a secret.
Pesto is the best, but it can be the worst.
It’s best because it’s so versatile and delicious.
The combination of basil, garlic, cheese, and pine nuts can take you from a simple pasta dish to a delicious pizza topping in just a few minutes.
Plus, you can use it on bread, chicken, fish, really anything!
It is simply the gift that keeps on giving.
But what if you’ve got a half-empty jar of homemade pesto in your fridge, and if it doesn’t have a best-before-date, or you’re unsure how long it’s good for?
Or maybe you’re wondering how to store it so that it tastes as fresh as possible when you want to use it again.
Well, let us break it to you.
Pesto doesn’t last forever.
In fact, shelf life is pretty limited!
And once it goes bad, it’ll be impossible to use it again.
So, if you have some pesto in your fridge and have zero ideas about when it was made, here is a guide for storing your pesto correctly and determining if it is still good or should be tossed in the trash.
We know, we know—it’s a question you’ve probably never even considered before.
But if you’re like us, you’ve noticed that pesto has become more and more popular as years go by.
It’s pretty much everywhere these days (think pasta, pizza, chicken sandwiches).
And it seems like everyone is making their own homemade version of it.
So again, does pesto go bad? Ever?
Or do you have to use it within a certain amount of time?
Yes, it does!
However, it’s different from how you might think.
If you store your pesto in the fridge, it will last for up to a few weeks.
If you freeze your pesto in ice cube trays or small containers and then place them in a freezer-safe bag, you can keep them frozen for several months!
However, pesto will have a shorter shelf life if it is stored at room temperature on your countertop.
How to know if pesto has gone bad
If you’re wondering how to know if pesto has gone bad, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ll walk you through all of the signs of spoilage and expiration so that you can make sure that your pesto is safe to eat.
Here are some signs to look for:
The first sign of trouble is a change in color.
If your pesto goes from bright green to dull brownish or yellowish, that’s far from being good!
Also, if you see any visible signs of mold like white spots or black spots on top of the sauce, and if you notice that it’s separated into oil and solids, then you might have a bad pesto.
If you think you might have a bad pesto in your fridge or pantry, throw it out immediately!
Never take any chances with old pesto.
Another quick way to tell if your pesto has gone bad is simply to smell it.
The initial burst of basil and cheese should have an air of freshly baked bread to it.
If it smells rancid and sour, throw it out.
Also, be wary of jars with a sharp plastic or chemical odor.
That’s another sign that jarred pesto is on the verge of spoiling.
When it comes to sauces, you should also keep an eye out for changes in texture and consistency.
In a good pesto, you’ll find a smooth blend of nuts, olive oil, and basil with a strong flavor.
When this balance is thrown off, the pesto will no longer be smooth.
It may even look like it has lumps or fails the “tear” test when put on paper towels.
So, if your pesto has lumps and looks grainy, put it away immediately!
How long does pesto last?
Okay, let’s move on to the next question: how long does pesto last when it’s not in the fridge?
It usually has a “best-by” or “shelf-life” date that tells you when it will taste best or just how long it will last.
If you keep it unopened until after that date, it should be fine for a few weeks or maybe even months.
The food won’t taste as good for as long, but it also won’t get spoiled a few days after the expiration date.
However, once the jar or can is opened, the sauce will last for about 7 to 10 days.
Well, it’s also a good thing that most store-bought pesto kept in the fridge has a date on the label that says when it should be used.
So, you won’t have a hard time figuring out how long you’ll keep them.
The sauce that hasn’t been opened should still be good for maybe 5 to 7 days after that date.`
Sometimes it lasts longer, but that isn’t always the case.
However, before we move on, we want to remind you of some essential details.
The container you use to store your pesto and your ingredients will also determine how long it will last.
Putting pesto in the fridge or the freezer isn’t the only way to store it; it’s a lot more complicated than that.
The container is a very important part of keeping your pesto fresh and bacteria-free.
Add an extra layer of olive oil to the top once you’ve put enough pesto in the jar (about 3/4 of the jar’s capacity).
The oil keeps pathogenic microorganisms from getting into the sauce and making it unsafe to eat.
Also, use a tall, narrow glass jar instead of a wide, shallow glass jar if you want to limit your exposure to oxygen.
And since less oil is used in a tall jar, the pesto’s texture should remain mostly unchanged when using it this way.
As soon as you open the container, put the lid back on tightly.
Use of Ingredients
Your pesto might be ruined if you use the wrong components, and you may blame the ingredients if your pesto spoils despite appropriate storage.
Olive Oil: Go check the label on the bottle of oil you are using in the kitchen.
Olive oil usually goes bad after 18 to 24 months (extra virgin olive oil lasts for 12 to 18 months).
If you use other kinds of oil, like canola or peanut, this number goes down to six and twelve months, respectively.
Olive oil tastes the best and lasts the longest.
So, how do you know if your olive oil is bad?
Just open the bottle and smell what’s inside.
If it smells like crayons or cement, you should throw them away right away.
If you can’t smell it, you can try tasting it.
There’s nothing to be concerned about it; it’s safe.
Plus, you can guarantee that something is wrong if it tastes bitter.
Taking a look at the color is another simple way.
If it gets dark, you probably can’t use it anymore.
Direct sunlight can also change the color, so keep your bottle in a cool, dark place.
Nuts: If you follow the traditional recipe and use pine nuts, you might want to keep this in mind.
Pine nuts are never as cheap compared to other crunchy options like walnuts or cashews.
But plant oils make all nuts go bad after a certain amount of time.
So, how long do your pine nuts have left until they go bad?
The best kind will go bad after a month in the fridge and three months in the freezer.
Remember to keep them in a sealed bag or a container that will keep air from getting in.
Herbs: It would be difficult to forget the herbs that give pesto its bright green color.
We love and hate each of them, but those fresh basil leaves will ruin your pesto after a while because they only last for nine days.
How to store pesto
Pesto is easy to make, and its uses are numerous, but do you know how to store pesto?
If you still have a lot of questions about it, here’s a quick guide that you can use to keep your jars of delicious sauce in tip-top shape.
Okay, so there are two types of pesto that you can buy.
The first one is sold without being chilled, and the second one is the one you’ll find in the store’s cold section.
This is also true for other sauces and dips.
Let’s start with the first one.
Most pesto that does not need to be kept cold comes in jars or tins.
Since it’s kept at room temperature in the store, you can too, as long as it’s unopened.
To achieve that, ensure it’s in a cool, dry place that’s out of the sun and away from sources of heat.
But even if it gets some sunlight or the temperature changes, it won’t go bad in the container.
Still, the quality and the taste might be different once it’s exposed to air.
However, once you open the container, make sure it’s always tightly sealed and stored in the fridge when you’re not using it.
If the pesto is in a tin, pour it into a container with a lid before putting it in the fridge.
The second type of pesto sold in stores is the kind that is kept in the fridge.
You’ll be surprised because storing it is easy: as soon as you get it home, put it in the fridge and leave it there.
But once you’ve opened the container, keep it tightly closed.
If the pesto’s original container can’t be sealed, put it in a small food container.
And while we know making pesto is pretty easy, sometimes, we just want to stock on some of that good delicious sauce too.
And how do we do that? By freezing it.
It’s the best way to delay the expiration date of your pesto, and doing so can extend the pesto’s shelf life from 9 to 12 months.
Does pesto need to be refrigerated?
Pesto is a raw dish made of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and oil.
So the question is: does pesto need to be refrigerated?
The answer is yes, but it depends.
If you bought a commercial pesto in a room-temperature aisle of your local grocery, then you can leave it as it is without putting it in the fridge.
But if you bought a commercial pesto from the refrigerated section, then you need to keep it cool.
You can also check the instructions for further details but REMEMBER that once you’ve opened any bottle of pesto, you need to chill it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
And if you put it in the refrigerator, you must eat it within three weeks or before mold starts to grow.
However, you can freeze it to keep it for a long time.
How long does homemade pesto last?
Many store-bought pesto bottles last longer than usual because they use preservatives to prolong the shelf life.
This can lead to undesirable taste and texture changes after only a few months.
Sadly, homemade pesto will suffer from the same fate.
But because they are made with olive oil, homemade versions wouldn’t last as long as those that come in jars.
So, how long does homemade pesto last in general?
The exact answer depends mainly on storage conditions.
To maximize the shelf life of pesto, keep it refrigerated at all times.
But how long does homemade pesto last in the fridge?
Well, homemade pesto will typically keep for about 5 to 7 days, given that it has been constantly refrigerated.
To make pesto last even longer, you can freeze it: Put pesto in containers with lids or heavy-duty freezer bags that will keep air out.
So, on to the next and final question: how long does homemade pesto last in the freezer?
If properly stored, homemade pesto will maintain the best quality in the freezer for about four months but will remain safe beyond that time.
The bottom line
Making your own pesto is a simple yet delicious way to give pasta, bread, chicken, or almost anything a bit of a kick.
Or you could use it to coat your favorite chicken or fish for an interesting new flavor.
This homemade sauce will also help you save money because it only needs a few fresh ingredients that you might already have in your pantry.
And hopefully, you’ll never have the occasion to test out whether or not your leftover pesto is still good to eat, but if you do, you’ll be happy that you read this article before taking a big bite!
To keep pesto fresher longer, try putting it in the fridge or freezing it in an airtight container.
If a spoonful thaws into something that resembles water, it’s time for the trash.
And if it thaws into something resembling its original form, it’s probably okay to eat—but give it a taste test just in case.
Enjoy your pesto in all of its glory!
- Pesto (opened)
- Pour the pesto into an airtight container with a lid.
- Slide the container into the refrigerator.
- Consume it within a week.