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How To Tell If Salsa Is Bad

by Lyndon Langley
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How To Tell If Salsa Is Bad

How To Tell If Salsa Is Bad

Salsa is one of those things that can be made at home with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or fridge. You don’t need much equipment to make a tasty sauce or dip (unless you want to get fancy and use high quality products). So what’s not to love? Well, there are a few things… like spoilage. It doesn’t take long for many types of food to start turning rancid. The same goes for any type of condiment. Whether its ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise or even garlic paste, they all go bad within days. Fortunately, most of these foods are fairly easy to detect once their expiration date has passed. But what about salsas? How do you know when its time to throw out the leftovers?
If you’ve ever seen a commercial where the host says something along the lines of “it looks kinda gross,” then you’ll understand how important it is to pay attention to the color and texture of your homemade salsa. The best way to tell if your salsa has spoiled is by checking for some pretty clear signs of rotting. Most people won’t notice subtle differences in taste or odor, but if you’re looking for an excuse to clean up the kitchen anyway, here are some surefire ways to tell whether or not your homemade salsa is still good to eat.

First off, let’s talk about the obvious — look for signs of mold growth or discoloration. If your salsa has gotten too hot while cooking, it could develop a dark brownish color. This means that the red coloring from the tomatoes has been bleached away. As a result, the fruit will appear more gray than red. A similar thing happens when the salsa cools down after being cooked. When water evaporates during this process, the tomato juice becomes less acidic and the liquid will turn pink. As the acidity increases in the mixture, the pH level shifts which causes the liquid to change color.
Another sign of spoilage is visible separation between the layers of oil that sit atop the mixture. Once that happens, the surface layer of oil begins to break down and oxidize. This results in poor flavor development, which leads to spoiled, bitter tasting salsa. In addition, the oil itself should break down into smaller pieces rather than forming large clumps. If that happens, the oil was likely exposed to heat too long, which also leads to poor flavor development.
The last indicator of spoilage we’ll examine today is the aroma. Like oils, aromatics such as onions, peppers and cilantro tend to break down faster than other ingredients because their cellular structure allows them to absorb heat better. However, unlike oils, some aromatic smells are pleasant. For example, the scent of fresh cut grass is actually caused by terpenes in green leafy plants. Therefore, although a strong oniony smell is usually unpleasant, it isn’t always a reliable indicator of spoilage. That said, if you notice the oniony smell getting stronger over time, it’s definitely past its prime.
So now that we’ve covered the basic warning signs of spoilage, let’s move onto the fun part — learning how to tell if salsa tastes spoiled. The first step in doing so involves comparing two identical samples side-by-side. One sample should contain a little bit of recently opened salsa and the other should be from older stock. Then simply compare the two using your senses. Does one sample seem noticeably different? Can you describe why? If so, chances are the older batch is no longer fit for human consumption.

Next, try making a small batch of salsa and refrigerate half of it. After a day or two, open up the remaining portion and either save it or discard it. Now repeat the experiment and keep track of when each sample expires. If the older sample seems significantly worse, then it’s had enough time under refrigeration to qualify as spoiled.
Finally, if you’re truly curious about what exactly went wrong, test the salsa for bacteria. Simply pour a tablespoon of the unopened salsa onto a plate and wait 24 hours. If you see any white spots growing on top of the mixture, then it’s safe to assume that the salsa turned rancid.
Whether you prefer store-bought or DIY, there’s no reason to waste money on inferior produce. Check out our guide to telling if fruits and vegetables are ripe and follow our tips for keeping salsas fresher for longer. With proper storage techniques, you can keep your favorite sauces and dips delicious for months and years to come.
Did you know that tomatoes are considered poisonous when raw? Yes, the flesh of the tomato plant contains substances called beta carotene, which cause severe stomach cramps and vomiting when eaten in large quantities. Luckily, they only pose a problem if you happen to consume a whole raw tomato without knowing it.


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