Whether you’ve stockpiled them from sushi nights or picked up a few extra with your takeout, (or maybe you fancy them’ mini containers a-lot and happened to stock them in bulk), soy sauce packets have become an almost ubiquitous presence in our kitchens.
If you have too many, you might be scared they’ll eventually go bad before you ever have the chance to rip off their tops.
But do soy sauce packets actually go bad?
In this piece, we’ll discuss the shelf life of soy sauce packets, and find out how long they can keep in storage; plus how to store them too.
Do Soy Sauce Packets Go Bad?
While it’s common to think that those soy sauce packets stashed away from your last takeout meal can easily go bad, surprisingly, these packets are quite resilient and boast a longer shelf life than one might expect (like their bottled counterparts).
Soy sauce packets actually come with a “best before” date rather than an expiration date, and you bet both are production dates with different meanings.
The former, printed on soy packets, means that they don’t necessarily expire (in the sense that they become edible) but will gradually lose their quality over time.
Typically, soy sauce packets when stored away from heat sources, moisture and sunlight can maintain their peak quality for around 1-2 years from their production date.
But what makes them so durable?
The secret lies in the preservatives used during production, such as sodium benzoate, along with the natural properties of fermented soy sauce, the acidity of course!
Fermented soy sauce is highly acidic, and It’s the acidic nature and high salt content that creates an environment which is not particularly welcoming for bacteria or mold to grow.
The sealed aluminium packaging also helps to preserve the contents by keeping out air and therefore potential contaminants.
Do Soy Sauce Packets Need To Be Refrigerated?
The answer is: not necessarily.
Soy sauce packets are shelf stable and can last in this way for years to come provided they are stored properly, meaning that you keep them in a cool, dry, dark place like the cupboard or pantry and avoid exposing them to sun or sources of heat as much as possible.
If you choose to refrigerate them in this state, you still can, and it could be an added bonus since the cold temperatures of the refrigerator helps to preserve the flavors even better without taking up any real estate in the fridge!
Once you open your packet however, it is best to try and finish it, but if that proves impossible, (somehow) it’s essential to find a way to close the packet securely and then store it in the refrigerator.
Doing so will allow your soy sauce to maintain its quality for several weeks, but bear in mind that that using it sooner rather than later will ensure you’re getting the best taste possible.
How To Tell If Your Soy Sauce Packet Has Gone Bad?
For soy sauce packets that have accumulated and sat around for longer than expected, it’s important to know when they’ve gone bad, as using spoiled condiments can negatively impact the quality of your meal as well as present potential health issues.
Here are some telltale signs that your soy sauce packet is no longer good to use.
If the seal or packaging of your packet is broken, and there are signs of spill here and there, there’s a high chance that contaminants have entered the packet. It’s best not to risk using it and let fruit flies have a feast instead.
If you notice any changes in appearance such as microbial growth or other unidentifiable substances inside the packet, discard it immediately. Why would you even want find out more?
Change in Consistency
A change in consistency of the sauce might indicate spoilage: the growth of microbes in the sauce, as a healthy soy sauce should always be smooth and pour easily.
Sharp Chemical Smell
While soy sauce does have a distinct aroma, a sharp chemical smell could be a sign of spoilage or contamination. Sometimes, it may not give a sharp chemical smell, but a particularly offensive odor, whichever the case may be, discard the product ASAP.
Although tasting questionable soy sauce isn’t recommended, if you’ve accidentally used some and noticed an off taste, dispose of the remaining contents immediately. You’ve been granted a favor for a second chance already.
Expired Date with Other Signs of Spoilage
While expiration dates aren’t always accurate indicators of spoilage, if your soy sauce packet is past its date and also exhibits other warning signs mentioned above, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.