Is there anything more satisfying than whipping up a batch of homemade buttermilk ranch to drizzle over your favorite salads, dunk your crispy veggies or even slather on sandwiches?
There might be, but for the sake of this article, I’d rather think otherwise!
If you’re making buttermilk ranch at home, especially in large batches, then it’s inevitable for you to be troubled by the question of how long it will last after you make it.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the shelf life of homemade buttermilk ranch and share some tips on how to store it properly for maximum freshness.
Can Homemade Ranch Go Bad?
Homemade buttermilk ranch is made with fresh ingredients like buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise (we’ve got you covered on the best ones — Kewpie & Duke’s), and various herbs and spices, without any preservatives.
These fresh ingredients and the lack of preservatives, are what make it so delicious, but they’re also the reason it can go bad.
Buttermilk and sour cream are dairy products that are perishable, and so also homemade mayonnaise.Once opened and mixed into your dressing, they become susceptible to spoilage.
Bacteria love dairy products as much as we do, and if left unchecked or improperly stored (like keeping it outside for long), these little critters can cause your beloved homemade ranch to spoil.
As for the herbs and spices in your homemade buttermilk ranch dressing – while they may not spoil as quickly as dairy products or mayonnaise – their flavors will start to fade over time. You’ll notice that your once vibrant and zesty dressing has lost its mojo when it starts tasting bland or off.
How Long Does Homemade Ranch Last In The Fridge?
Homemade ranch dressing can last up to 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge when stored properly.
To ensure it remains fresh and doesn’t spoil quickly, follow the tips below.
- Make sure your buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream and herbs are fresh and not old or close to their expiration dates.
- Spoon the dressing into a clean, food safe, airtight container or jar with a tight-fitting lid to keep out air and moisture. If you’re using a jar, you can sterilize it before spooning in the mixture.
- Store the dressing in the refrigerator at a consistent temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below.
- When taking out servings from the Mayo, always use clean utensils and avoid dipping your hands, used utensils or veggies into the container.
These tips are especially crucial for you to observe as homemade dressings don’t contain preservatives like store-bought versions, so they won’t last as long and you need to go extra careful with them to prevent contamination.
If during storage, you notice any signs of spoilage (check below), don’t hesitate to discard the dressing immediately.
Can You Freeze Homemade Ranch Dressing? How Long Will It Last In The Freezer?
Yes, you can freeze homemade ranch dressing if you have large batches at hand.
It can last up to 2 months in the freezer without detrimental loss of quality or flavor although the texture would be altered slightly upon thawing, as mayonnaise and dairy-based products like buttermilk tend to separate when frozen and then thawed.
Regardless, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf life of your ranch and have it readily available whenever you need it.
Here are the steps to follow in order to successfully freeze homemade ranch dressing.
- Pour the prepared dressing into an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer-safe bag. Be sure to leave some headspace in the container to allow for expansion as the dressing freezes.
- Seal the container or bag tightly, ensuring there is minimal air inside.
- Label the container with the date and name of the content, so you can easily keep track of what’s in the bag and how long it’s been stored.
- Place the container in your freezer, making sure it’s stored away from strong-smelling foods that could potentially affect its flavor.
When it’s time to use your frozen buttermilk ranch dressing, simply transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw overnight.
Once thawed, give it a good stir or shake to recombine any separated ingredients for a smoother texture. You can use an immersion blender for a more thorough mix.
After mixing, adjust the seasoning or add a small amount of fresh dairy (buttermilk, sour cream or mayonnaise) to improve the taste and texture. But make sure to taste it first, to ensure the flavor is still appealing and balanced.
How To Tell If Homemade Ranch Is Bad?
Nothing ruins a perfectly crisp salad like a dollop of spoiled ranch. So it’s important to be able to tell if your Mayo has gone bad, to prevent that.
Here’s what to look out for when you suspect your mayonnaise isn’t in a great shape.
First, give your homemade buttermilk ranch a good ol’ sniff test. If it smells funky or off, trust your sense of smell and toss that bad boy out. Your nostrils, most of the time, are pretty damn right, when it comes to detecting spoilage.
Next up is visual inspection. If you spot any mold or discoloration (like green or black spots; sometimes these could be from the addition of peppercorn), then it’s time to say goodbye to your ranch dressing.
Even if only part of the dressing is affected, don’t try to salvage the rest – better safe than sorry.
Then texture also. A fresh batch of buttermilk ranch should be smooth and creamy, not lumpy or separated.
If you see any curdling or separation that doesn’t disappear with a quick stir, it’s probably past its prime.
Finally, consider the age of your homemade buttermilk ranch. While store-bought dressings can last for months thanks to preservatives, homemade versions have a shorter shelf life – usually around 1-2 weeks when stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
If yours has been sitting for close to or longer than this time frame, and fails some of the quality tests from above, it’s more than likely to have gone bad!
Is It Safe To Reheat Ranch?
It is never recommended to reheat ranch dressing for quality and not safety reasons as doing so could result in several undesirable outcomes such as:
- Separation of the dairy components which can lead to a curdled appearance and an unappealing, uneven texture
- Loss of its signature creamy consistency, and instead, the adoption of a thinner and less desirable texture
- The alteration of the delicate balance of herbs and spices in the dressing, potentially diminishing the overall flavor.
Instead of reheating ranch dressing, it’s best to use it cold or at room temperature.
If you need a warm dressing or sauce, consider opting for a recipe specifically designed for heating, such as a cheese sauce or a warm vinaigrette.
How Long Can Ranch Stay In A Hot Car?
The internal temperature in a hot car can dramatically increase within a short period of time, especially in summer months or sunny days.
Leaving a homemade ranch in a hot car for longer than an hour may render it unsafe to consume because the increased temperature can promote the growth of harmful bacteria, which can lead to spoilage and potential foodborne illnesses.
As you might have guessed, the culprit ingredient is dairy which is highly perishable and sensitive to temperature changes.
For perishables like this, it is generally recommended to keep them out of the temperature danger zone, which is between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C).
If you have to transport homemade ranch dressing, consider putting it inside an insulated cooler with ice packs so as to maintain a safe and consistent temperature.
This will help preserve the freshness of the dressing and reduce the risk of contamination.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Homemade Hidden Valley Ranch Last?
Homemade Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch, like any good thing in life, has its limits.
Generally speaking, your homemade hidden valley buttermilk ranch should stay fresh and flavorful for several weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. The store bought counterpart on the other hand, would keep for up to 12 months (unopened) or 2 months after opening and storing it in the refrigerator.
To ensure your homemade Hidden Valley ranch stays at its peak freshness, keep it in an airtight container or a well-sealed mason jar, as we have described above.
And don’t forget the golden rule of food storage: When in doubt, give it a sniff! If it smells funky or looks off-color, it’s probably best to discard it and whip up a fresh batch.
How Long Does Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Last?
With or without buttermilk, ranch dressing typically would last between a week or two before it begins to show the signs of spoilage, and that is due to its highly perishable nature.
You can however, preserve it for longer by refrigerating, although it may result in flavor and textural changes due to the dairy content which can separate, become grainy or curdled when frozen and thawed.
Make sure to follow all the storage practices mentioned above to store your homemade buttermilk ranch properly in order to prevent faster spoilage.