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Does Soy Sauce Go Bad & Should It Be Refrigerated?

Unlock the secrets of soy sauce storage! From the fridge dilemma to spotting signs of freshness, discover how to keep your Kelly Loves soy sauce at its best. Don't let a fuzzy grey area ruin your umami experience—learn the art of soy sauce preservation for a taste that lasts!
Written by: Kelly Choi
Does Soy Sauce Go Bad & Should It Be Refrigerated?

To put in the fridge or not? There’s a fuzzy grey area when it comes to fridge storage. We probably put foods in our fridge that we needn’t (here’s looking at you: eggs, bread, garlic, tomatoes and that sneaky avocado). Then there are those foods where the fridge dilemma bewilders us, and this includes soy sauce. Soy sauce isn’t refrigerated in a supermarket. But once we’ve opened it, do we put it in the fridge? And what if we’ve stored it in the fridge after opening, but forgetfully put it in the cupboard after splashing it in our stir-fry? When do we know it’s gone bad? And do different types of soy sauce have different storage instructions? 

So many questions. We’re here to explain how to store your soy sauce so that it remains the highest quality and you won’t find yourself confused again. 

Does soy sauce go bad? 

Not generally, no. It’s a clever little condiment that’s loaded with salt, a natural preservative. And this super-salty environment provides no place for microorganisms to get comfy and cosy. That’s why, even after a few years, it’s OK to consume as long as it has been stored properly and hasn’t degraded in quality (more on that below).

How long does soy sauce last? 

An unopened bottle of soy sauce can last for around three years and remain in good quality. If the bottle has been opened, you can leave it in the fridge for up to one year. But we’d like to think that by using our tasty range of Kelly Loves authentic soy sauces and our handy guide on how to use soy sauce in cooking you won’t need to store it for nearly that long! 

As a starting point, always follow the label and the ‘best by’ date for guidance. This is because over the years the quality of the product can deteriorate, particularly if it hasn’t been well stored. 

How can you tell if soy sauce has gone bad? 

Check for anything on the surface of the soy sauce 

It’s rare, but if you see anything dodgy-looking on the surface of the soy sauce, like mould, then you need to throw the soy sauce away and re-stock. The exception is a white floating thing called ‘yeast film’ (not mould) which grows in very salty environments. The important thing to know is that this yeast film won’t give you food poisoning, but it will impact the smell and taste of the soy sauce. So you’d best remove it ASAP. Once you’ve removed it, if the soy sauce tastes OK, keep using it. But if in any doubt, or you simply think the quality has been compromised and you don’t like the smell or flavour, discard it. 

Smell 

This one you’ll have to trust your nose and your instincts. We love that soy sauce has a strong smell, it smells delicious. That smell can be described as a mixture of yeast (beer or fresh bread, for example). You may also smell a touch of alcohol.  Good quality soy sauce will smell slightly sweet (poor quality soy sauce you’ll smell chemical overtones). But if you smell the soy sauce and the aroma is way too overpowering and much too intense, then it’s time to throw it away. 

Changes in colour or texture 

Don’t automatically throw away a soy sauce which has changed in colour. Over time, your soy sauce will naturally change in colour due to oxidation. The contact with the air will make the soy sauce darker in colour. But if your soy sauce has turned from a thick-ish texture to a watery texture, it’s time to throw it away. The taste of the soy sauce will weaken as the sauce becomes darker in colour too. In this case, you can either add more soy sauce to the food you are flavouring, or it’s time to replace the bottle. 

Does soy sauce need to be refrigerated? 

No, you don’t have to refrigerate soy sauce, but it’s preferable for any type of soy sauce to live in the fridge because it’ll ensure that it lasts for longer. After opening your bottle of soy sauce it would remain high quality for about a month if left at room temperature. Whereas if you put the newly opened soy sauce straight into the fridge, it’ll last at a high quality for a minimum of a few months. And don’t worry if you accidentally leave your soy sauce out of the fridge in a hurry to clear up — it’ll still be safe to use — it’ll just lose some quality if left there over time.

If you store your soy sauce correctly you’ll be able to enjoy the unique taste of Kelly Loves classic soy sauce whenever you need it. In creating our soy sauce we use the highest quality, authentic ingredients (you’ll really notice the difference!) so by storing it in the fridge after opening you can ensure the mouth-watering umami flavour stays exactly as it should.

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