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Oct 10, 2004 08:54 AM

does soy sauce go bad?

  • b

I have some bottles of soy sauce that are a few years old. They seem fine, but I'm wondering if soy sauce goes bad, and if so how long it takes. Does it make any difference to refrigerate it? Maybe this is a dumb question but I'd appreciate if anyone knows the answer.

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  1. Non-definitive, but the salt content is so high (salt being the original preservative) that I can't imagine it going bad.

    That said, Kikkoman gives a shorter shelf life (see link). Perhaps they're trying to sell more product or please the lawyers.


    5 Replies
    1. re: SteveT

      Salt is a preservative plus it's a fermented (brewed) product but I find the longer you keep it around, the more likely you'll end up with that supersalty sludge at the end of the bottle due to settling salt and evaporation. I'll usually toss the last remaining half inch or so from a gallon jug or try to "red cook" something with it as it's really too salty to use as you would regular soy sauce.

      1. re: Jenny

        What's "red cook"?

        1. re: neighbor

          Red cook is the braising method that uses soy sauce and other Chinese ingridents. The resulting foods (ususally meat of some sort) are dark in color, sometimes reddish brownish.

          And I don't think I've ever heard of my Chinese releative worrying about soy sauce going bad.

          1. re: Wendy Lai

            As others have mentioned, soy sauce doesn't go bad in the sense that it will hurt you if you ingest it. But it does deteriorate in quality as soon as you open the bottle. Best to buy in smaller quantities to have that fresh-opened taste and fragrance more often.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Detroit-NYC Al

              After several months of being open your soy sauce will begin to have an "off" taste and smell, and will get progressively more sour. It sure won't hurt you, but you also won't get the right aromatics and flavor out of it. This is particularly true of Japanese soy sauce due to its lower salt content.

    2. I bet my bottles are older than yours! And I still use them and have never gotten sick.