Does Hoisin Sauce Go Bad?

If you like cooking Chinese food, you will need a few staple spices and condiments. Hoisin sauce is one of the essential ingredients. It is right up there with sesame oil in terms of how often you will be called on to use it when preparing Chinese dishes. Even with many ways to use it, you will probably not use a whole container at one time, which means that its shelf life comes into play. Does hoisin sauce go bad? Yes, but not if you use it quickly and/or store it correctly for extended shelf life.

The ingredients impact shelf life.

Hoisin sauce gets its flavor from soybeans, garlic, and vinegar along with chili peppers and other spices. No component has more of an impact on its shelf life than sugar. Hoisin sauce contains a lot of sugar, which makes it different from your typical soy sauce. The fact that hoisin sauce contains sugar means that it may be a medium for bacteria and may also be attractive to mold. Yes, even with a spicy ingredient like chili pepper present.

The most crucial step in preventing this fermentation and mold growth will be to control the temperature at which you store it. Both mold and spoilage from bacteria are likely to occur at higher temperatures.

How do you keep your hoisin sauce from spoiling?

You will need to refrigerate your jar of hoisin sauce as soon as possible after opening it (or making it from scratch). If refrigeration is not an option and you want to maximize the shelf life of your hoisin sauce, do not break the vacuum seal on the jar. The minute you break the seal, the countdown to it going bad has begun.

What’s the shelf life of an unopened jar of hoisin sauce?

Hoisin sauce can last about three years if the integrity of the vacuum seal has not been breached. It might last for longer than three years, but the flavor is likely to diminish over time.

What’s the shelf life of an opened jar?

Refrigeration in addition to the salt, acid content, and capcaisin in hoisin sauce can go a long way toward preserving an open jar. The fact that some blends might contain preservatives like sodium benzoate may postpone spoilage for even longer. Sodium benzoate works by lowering the pH in foods so that fungi cannot grow in it; it is common to see it added to acidic foods to enhance flavor.

Note that the ingredients can vary and some brands will use acetic acid, which helps to stop the growth of bacteria. An opened jar of hoisin sauce can last at most about 18 months if it is consistently refrigerated after the date of opening. It should be kept closed. If you store a jar of hoisin sauce in the refrigerator without the lid, it will eventually dry out and become unusable in addition to losing its flavor.

How do you tell if your hoisin sauce has gone bad?

The first thing to look for is mold. The presence of mold is an indication that your hoisin sauce has spoiled and that you will need to dispose of it. Taking a sniff can also help you to determine the sauce’s state. If it smells sour or fermented to any extent, it is better to dispose of it.

The third thing to look for is dehydration. If the hoisin sauce is hard or rubbery, this indicates that it has lost much of its moisture and will probably not have the flavor profile or consistency that you want from it. If this happens, you will want to dispose of the jar rather than attempt to use it.

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on September 5, 2019 to include new content.
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