Hot sauce is a common condiment, typically made from chili peppers, vinegar, and salt (and sometimes with additional ingredients.) So, the short of it: you can freeze hot sauce. Freezing hot sauce is a great way to extend its shelf life. When frozen, it will last for up to six months. To freeze hot sauce, simply pour it into an airtight container and place it in the freezer. But you should ask yourself the question as well: do you need to?
Table of Contents
- Do you need to freeze hot sauce?
- Look at the ingredients – the more complex, the shorter the shelf life
- Consider the container – some are better than others for freezing
- Review the salt content – it changes your freezing point
- Must-read related posts
Do you need to freeze hot sauce?
You probably won’t need to do it with a commercial hot sauce since most of those contain preservatives that ensure a long shelf life, even at room temperature. You probably won’t even need to do it with a homemade sauce under normal circumstances. They can last months, even when opened (as long as they’re capped when not in use.)
The reason is that hot sauce recipes typically include high concentrations of acid, usually vinegar. The high acidity makes the sauce an unfavorable environment for the bacteria that cause foodborne illness and spoilage. The capsaicin that provides the sauce’s heat also helps to discourage microbes and fungi.
That said, freezing hot sauce is a feasible way to store it if you need to keep it for a year or longer. Keep the following in mind as you make a choice.
Look at the ingredients – the more complex, the shorter the shelf life
You can determine which hot sauces are more likely to need freezing by looking at the ingredients. A hot sauce loaded with sugar will have a shorter shelf life than one with less sugar. Because it is more susceptible to mold and bacteria, you may want to take steps to extend the shelf life so that it doesn’t make anyone sick.
For example, hot sauces that contain fruit like pineapple or mangoes have become popular in recent years. If you make a large batch of a fruity hot sauce, you may need to freeze it to prevent spoilage. You may also need to do this if you make a sauce that is not very acidic.
One danger with frozen hot sauce is that it might separate when it thaws. Keep in mind that this is a purely cosmetic issue and won’t affect the flavor.
Consider the container – some are better than others for freezing
The traditional container for hot sauce is a glass bottle with a spout or small hole for controlled pouring or sprinkling. Alternatively, some home cooks might use a glass mason jar or similar vessel to store hot sauce at room temperature. Glass containers are not viable options for freezing hot sauce simply because liquid expands, but glass doesn’t. If you store a mason jar in the freezer, it may explode.
While you can reduce the risk of a glass container shattering in your freezer (by leaving some empty space in the bottle), you won’t be able to eliminate the risk entirely. An explosion will still be a possibility.
Another option is to freeze your hot sauce in a plastic airtight container, leaving space at the top for that expansion (and there’s some give to plastic.) But this option can be bulky for long-term storage.
The best option to avoid waste and a time-consuming cleanup job: store your sauce in a resealable freezer bag. Place the bags on a cookie sheet in your freezer to freeze while lying flat. The flat shape will make them easier to store. You can stack multiple bags of hot sauce or easily store them on top of other frozen items.
Review the salt content – it changes your freezing point
Hot sauce recipes often require a lot of salt, meaning the final product’s freezing point will be low. The result is that it might not freeze as quickly or as well unless you get the temperature in your freezer low enough.
When freezing your hot sauce, adjust the freezer’s temperature setting if possible. Ideally, the temperature for freezing hot sauce should be around -20 degrees Fahrenheit.