Ranch dressing has made its way into every salad and dip we make! Hence, we tend to stock them for future use. If you found an old bottle of ranch past its best-by date and need help deciding whether to use it or trash it, we can help!
Ranch sauce comes with a best-by date or a use-by date. Since this date does not indicate spoilage, you can use them even after it has expired.
In this article, we will discuss in detail the various factors that can impact the shelf life of these sauces. We have also cumulated a guideline to help you inspect the sauce before using it to prevent serious health hazards.
How long does homemade ranch sauce last?
Ranch sauce can be made at home by combining the essential ingredients in an accurate proportion. The ranch is a blend of mayonnaise and sour cream since both are dairy-based. Homemade ranch sauce does not contain any additional preservatives; therefore, its shelf life is constrained.
It is best to keep the sauce refrigerated at all times to prevent the separation of the ingredients and to ensure that it does not get contaminated by microbes since the proliferation of bacteria is restricted at low temperatures.
You should not keep the sauce at room temperature since it will get rancid faster due to oil separation. Homemade ranch sauce, when stored at 37°F to 40°F, will last for a week without any significant taste alterations.
Authors Note: While storing them in the fridge, ensure they are kept in an air-tight container to prevent cross-contamination.
How long does store-bought ranch sauce last?
As per USDA, an opened bottle of salad dressing can last for about 2 months, once opened, without significantly changing its taste and texture if stored under the refrigerator.
If the ranch dressing is opened, try to use it as soon as possible to get the most out of the original taste and flavor; since the sauce is made up of perishable dairy-based ingredients, it’s best to avoid using it after it is spoilt.
These sauces can be shelved for a long time if it is kept away from sun and moisture. However, everything gets rancid after a specific period. An unopened bottle of ranch salad dressing can be kept in the pantry for about 18 months without any issues.
Can we eat ranch sauce after its best-by date?
Yes, you can eat ranch sauce after its best-by date. As per an article published in USDA standard protocol, a best-by date is not an indication of spoilage but merely an estimated timeline predicted by the manufacturer regarding the quality of the contents within the sauce.
As per the manufacturer, the sauce will taste the best and retain its peak quality before it reaches that date.
How to know if ranch sauce has gone bad
It’s not unusual to discover a forgotten packet of ranch dressing in your refrigerator or pantry cupboard. Hence, before using ranch sauce on your salad or sandwich, you can examine it yourself and decide if you have any doubts about the safety of the sauce.
The numerous elements required to analyze whether the sauce is fit for use or has been spoiled are listed in depth in this section.
Ranch sauces are packaged in a plastic bottle with an air-tight cap to prevent the sauce from coming into contact with moisture and the air. Therefore, the packaging should remain intact if it is kept in the refrigerator or on a shelf in your pantry.
It is advised to avoid using the sauce if the lid is damaged or cracked because it can be contaminated. Furthermore, carefully inspect the bottle before using it if you see any leaks, dents, or bulges.
If the container appears to be compromised, but you are confident that the sauce inside is clean, transfer the contents to another air-tight container or zip-lock plastic bag and refrigerate them until you need them.
Mold and microbes can increase at room temperature if they receive ambient sunlight and moisture. Hence, you may find mold lurking in your ranch sauce if stored in the pantry for a long time.
Ranch sauce has egg, milk, and oil; hence, it is one of the best combinations of nutrients to promote the growth of microbes. Mold typically manifests as a biofilm that is green, black, or brown, s a result, they are relatively evident in white-colored ranch sauces.
Ranch sauce is usually white and may be enriched with pieces of garlic or chives. As the sauce gets old, the vibrant white color begins to change. The garlic and chives also start turning black due to oxidation. Hence, if you notice that the color change is apparent, the sauce may have lost its original flavor and may not taste as it should.
The texture of ranch sauce is rich and creamy. It is slightly thick and has a velvety finish. If you notice that the sauce is unusually liquid, it may be because the ingredients within it are losing their integrity and quality. A change in texture may not indicate spoilage, but it will definitely impact the taste of the sauce.
The ranch sauce should smell like mayonnaise along with garlic. Give it a sniff before using it; if it smells odd and rotten, it may be spoilt. If the ranch’s constituents are degraded, it will smell like rotten milk or spoilt eggs.
Hence, if the smell is terrible, discard it without trying to revive it since it can contaminate the surrounding food items.
I am confident we are aware of the exquisite taste of ranch dressing. It may be spoilt if you notice any funny aftertaste after tasting this sauce. Hence, avoid using it.
Best way to store ranch sauce
Here are some tips that can help you extend the shelf life of your favorite sauce and keep them tasting fresh and flavourful for a longer time.
One of the most critical factors that contribute to spoilage is moisture. Hence, ensure that these bottles are stored in your pantry in a cool, dry place that is free from moisture.
There is no hard and fast rule that unopened bottles cannot be refrigerated. Hence, if you cannot find an ideal place in your pantry, you can refrigerate these bottles.
Once the bottle is open, it should be refrigerated to prevent bacterial contamination.
During refrigeration, try to keep the bottles on the inner shelf of the fridge and not at the door to limit temperature fluctuations.
Since ranch has oil and egg, it is advised not to keep them under direct sunlight. Sunlight can impact them and expedite spoilage. Furthermore, garlic and chives can get oxidized under the influence of sunlight.
If the bottle is damaged or the lid is loose, transfer the content to another bottle with a vacuum seal or in air-tight bags to prevent air exposure.
Never leave the ranch sauce on the counter for more than 2 hours after it has been opened.
While storing these sauce bottles in the pantry, keep wiping them from time to time with a dry paper towel to prevent the accumulation of dust and mites.
Health hazards of consuming spoilt or expired ranch sauce
Since the sauce contains egg, mayonnaise, vinegar, buttermilk, etc., consuming expired or spoilt sauce can cause severe food-borne infections.
Some of the symptoms that you may notice are as follows:
- Stomach Cramps
- Abdominal discomfort
Hence, refrain from using ranch once you notice signs of spoilage.
In this section, we will answer some commonly asked questions.
Can a bloated or bulging bottle of ranch sauce indicate spoilage?
Answer: Before consuming the sauce, one of the most critical factors that one must consider is the integrity of the packaging. If you notice that the bottle has bulged out or has random bloating points, the content within it may be compromised. Bloating and bulging indicate air pockets. There may be microbes that are multiplying and proliferating within the bottle. Hence, it is best to consider other factors that indicate spoilage before using it.
How to dispose of rancid sauces?
Answer: The smell released once the sauce is expired vile, and almost unbearable since the ingredients contain dairy and egg. Hence, discarding them in your sink may be a bad option since the odor will linger there for a while. The best way to dispose of the sauce is by wrapping it in an air-tight bag and throwing it in the dustbin outside the house.
Can you eat ranch that was left out overnight?
Answer: As per the USDA, dairy products should not be consumed if left on the shelf at room temperatures between 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 135 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 2 hours. Since the temperature is ideal for the growth of harmful microorganisms, try to store an opened bottle in the fridge to avoid spoilage and the associated food-borne infections.
An opened bottle of ranch sauce can be refrigerated and stored for 2 months without any issues. A closed bottle of the ranch can last in your pantry for about 18 months as long as it is kept under ideal storage conditions.
If you are unsure about the safety of the sauce, you can inspect it by using the methods mentioned above before deciding to discard it. To increase the shelf life of these sauces, you can store them in the fridge, away from sunlight and moisture.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any other questions regarding ranch sauces, feel free to reach us in the comment section below.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.