It’s probably safe to say that ketchup is one of the most popular condiments in the West. Canadians eat a whopping 3.1kg per person each year, and Finland isn’t far behind. The world’s leading brand is Heinz. Think of it…walk into any home, diner, restaurant, or takeout and you’ll find a bottle of ketchup.
Have you ever wondered about the correct way to store ketchup? The brand-building director for Heinz says that the product only needs to be refrigerated after it has been opened.
Ketchup is naturally acidic so it remains safe if left on the shelf before the seal is broken. However, the company clearly is cautious and other experts tend to be more lenient about storage conditions. We’ll look at that just now.
What about all those bottles of ketchup on diner tables? We’re told that the waitrons throw out the unused bottle contents every night at closing time. The bulk container is kept in the fridge.
Do you need to worry if a family member accidentally left the ketchup bottle out overnight? Keep reading to find out.
What is ketchup made from?
Different ketchup brands contain different ingredients, but we’re going to look at a good quality brand, namely, Heinz. Here’s the list of their own label:
- Tomato concentrate made from ripe tomatoes
- Distilled vinegar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Onion powder
- Natural flavorings
As you can see, the top two ingredients are acidic – tomatoes and vinegar. This makes for a very shelf-stable product as acidity prevents bacterial growth and acts as a preservative.
Can You Leave Ketchup Out Overnight?
Experts say that because of the acidic ingredients, it is not strictly necessary for ketchup to be stored in the fridge even after it has been opened. The bottle can actually be left out, after being unsealed, for around a month with nothing bad happening.
What will happen after that, however, is that oxidation may cause the product to develop a brownish color and unpleasant smell.
This means that if one of your family members accidentally leaves the ketchup out of the fridge overnight, there’s no need to throw it out. It will not make you sick and will be absolutely fine for consumption.
Families that use a lot of this product, for instance, those that buy a bottle a month, can safely leave their ketchup on the shelf if they prefer eating it at room temperature.
People who use very little ketchup such as those who live alone should rather keep theirs in the fridge as a bottle may last them for many months.
To illustrate, have you ever seen a restaurant offering cold or refrigerated ketchup? That’s primarily because restaurants use up ketchup very quickly, and since ketchup can be stored at room temperature for a month, they are good to go.
Despite assurances to the contrary, we’re pretty sure that most diners don’t toss the leftover ketchup out every night. That’s because they know that ketchup is shelf-stable because of its natural acidity.
Bear in mind that we’re talking here about good-quality ketchup brands. While cheaper brands probably contain more preservatives and fewer tomatoes, we cannot vouch for their safety if left out of the fridge as expert opinions were given based on Heinz ketchup.
Is It Better to Store Ketchup at Room Temperature or Chilled?
According to the experts, the product is shelf-stable for a month after opening, but there is still a viable reason why you should store it in the fridge.
Generally, restaurants go through vast amounts of ketchup pretty quickly, but how often do you use ketchup at home? Maybe twice or three times a week?
Diners use the same amount of ketchup in a day that you would use in a month or more! For this reason, it is suggested to keep ketchup in the fridge at home because it preserves the color and fresh flavor.
Will Ketchup Go Bad If It’s Left Out Overnight?
The bottom line then is no, ketchup won’t go bad if you leave it out overnight. However, if you want to be sure, there are different things you can check to see if the ketchup has gone bad, such as:
- A fermented smell
- Separation of the ingredients. There will be a watery liquid floating on top of the solid tomato part.
- Any sign of mold
- Color changes from bright tomato red to reddish-brown
Will Ketchup Go Bad In The Fridge?
At room temperature, the shelf life of ketchup tends to be around one month. However, storing the ketchup in the fridge will enhance the shelf life and it will last for six months after being opened.
If the bottle is still sealed, it can be stored for up to two years on the shelf as it is in the supermarket. Check the best before date on the bottle.
To summarize, ketchup is safe to eat if you left it out overnight. In addition, it can be stored like this without a fridge for over a month because of its acidity (thanks to the tomatoes and vinegar) which hinders bacteria growth.
We hope this sets your mind at rest. Please go ahead and enjoy your hotdog with ketchup!