Soy sauce is a delicious and useful ingredient mainly found in food dishes from different kinds of Asian cooking styles. Soy sauce is considered to be a condiment, first and foremost, which is created from the fermentation of boiled soybeans that turns the soy into a paste and then later an actual sauce. The other ingredients that make up the soy sauce include grain, brine, and mold, which are specifically used to ferment the soybeans. Soy sauce goes back thousands of years in usage to 2nd Century AD where it originated in the early Chinese dynasties. Over the millennia, soy sauce has spread from China to Southeast Asia to Europe, North America, and the rest of the world. Soy sauce is truly a global condiment and is enjoyed by millions of consumers. Since the product is so popular, it is easily available to find in any supermarket where you can purchase it. If you’re at a local food market and you see a big sale on bottles of soy sauce, what should you do? Would it be worth the potential savings in both time and money to buy a few extra bottles for storage? Will it be possible for you to actually store the soy sauce properly so that it can last long enough for you to use it all? The ultimate question remains; does soy sauce go bad?
Does Soy Sauce Go Bad Or Expire?
The good news regarding this question is that soy sauce does not really go bad in the traditional sense like many other food products. This is partly due to the fact that most kinds of soy sauce are high in sodium and salt content. Because of this fact, the product makes it very difficult for any kind of mold, bacteria, or clumps to develop in the sauce and make it go bad prematurely. Soy sauce will usually have a “best before” date instead of expiration date.
However, the bad news is that the soy sauce will definitely deteriorate in quality and texture on a long enough timeline. It simply will not get better with age and you’ll eventually have to replace it. Still though, the shelf life for soy sauce is pretty long if you’re thinking of storing it for a while. If you’re interested in the storage process, the shelf life, or the signs to look for when it comes to bad or poor quality soy sauce, please continue to read through this article.
Storing The Soy Sauce
The most important thing to keep in mind is that soy sauce should be stored in a cool, dark, and dry area, especially if its’ been unopened. You should never want to store your soy sauce, whether its’ opened or unopened in a hot, wet, and humid environment. The best place to store the soy sauce would be a kitchen cabinet or pantry where it’s hidden from most outside elements. As much as it can be avoided, you’ll want to prevent the soy sauce from being exposed to outside elements like sunlight, heat, water, and oxygen.
While storing the soy sauce in the kitchen pantry is fine when the bottle is unopened, you may want to consider changing the place of storage when the product has been opened. As soy sauce will do fine in a cold and dark area, it’s totally all right to choose to store it in the refrigerator if that’s preferable for you. You could also decide to keep the product in the kitchen cabinet when its’ been opened but the original taste of the soy sauce may last longer if you decide to use the fridge for storage instead. If you only need the soy sauce for the short-term, the kitchen pantry or cabinet should be fine for storage without the product losing its’ taste or texture. Just remember to always tightly seal the container or bottle of soy sauce at all times in order to make the storage process work. When you don’t seal the bottle tightly or the cap breaks, your soy sauce is likely to lose its’ quality and flavor prematurely.
Want to know more about soy sauce? Check out this video about how soy sauce is made:
Shelf Life of Soy Sauce
Usually, a bottle or container of soy sauce will have a “Use by” or “Best before” date which can be mistaken for the product’s expiration date. However, this date instead indicates the point at which the soy sauce’s taste and flavor will begin its’ inevitable decline. This is why it’s recommended to consume your soy sauce sooner than later. The longer you wait to use your soy sauce, the less appetizing it will be.
It’s estimated that an unopened bottle of soy sauce will last for a period of between two to three years although it depends on the kind or brand of the product that’s being used. When the bottle is opened up, the shelf life decreases a little bit to about one to two years total of possible storage before the quality begins its’ decline.
Signs of Bad Soy Sauce
While soy sauce doesn’t go bad in the traditional sense like most other food products, it can still lose a lot of its’ appeal in terms of its’ taste and flavor as time goes on. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to measure the quality of soy sauce through appearance alone. Because of the soy sauce’s high amount of sodium, there is very little chance that the product will develop bacteria, mold, or any kind of discoloration. The two ways to measure the quality of your soy sauce would be through both smell and taste. You can easily open up your bottle of soy sauce and smell it to see if the original aroma is still there or if an unusually pungent or nasty odor has developed in its’ place. If that’s the case, you may want to send your soy sauce bottle to the trash bin.
However, if you’re still not convinced, you can do the 2nd test of taste. Pour a spoonful of the soy sauce and do a small taste test to see what the flavor and taste is. If the taste is the same as it was when you bought it originally, then there’s nothing to worry about. If there’s no flavor or if there’s no appeal to you with the taste, then it’s a good idea to throw it out. Soy sauce is easily replaceable and very cheap to buy. Good luck!