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Does Tabasco "go bad"?

I'm not a big user of hot sauces, so I've had a tiny bottle of Tabasco in my cupboards for....well, I don't know how long. Let's just say a LONG time. I'll pull it out when I need it, shake it well, and toss in however many drops I need. (Again, remember I'm not a fan of fiery-hot things!)

Anyway, I've noticed that the sauce in the bottle is a much darker reddish-brown than when I first bought it - I thought it had brighter reddish tones when I purchased it those many years ago. Shaking it redistributes whatever oil or whatever is in there that separates, and I haven't noticed any discernable difference in its heat.

Does it lose its "oomph"?

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  1. I have a bottle of Tabasco at my office that has been there 10 years (I got it when we were initially stocking the break room). It's darker then the one as home (which is used more frequently) and I've had to clean the crusties off the top a couple of times, but it seems fine to me.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Janet from Richmond

      OK, if yours has survived 10 years, mine is definitely OK. :-)

    2. Hmmm... Tabasco is mostly vinegar, so the odds of it going bad...

      I have had hot sauces that have gone bad on me (changed into an opaque color), but they had more 'chile' pulp in them.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Dommy

        Well now that is something I never knew (re: it being mostly vinegar). Shows how often I've read the Tabasco packaging or used it, for that matter. :-) Thanks for the info.

      2. Between the salt and the vinegar , I suspect it would stay "safe" for centuries if tightly sealed, but I think it tastes pretty nasty by the time it's gone that dark color. But the heat is the last thing to go so if just use a dash or so for that, you may not notice or mind. For future reference, it keeps its flavor much (much) longer in the fridge.

        1. Agreed - I keep mine in the fridge. In fact, it may even say on the label to do so for best results. I think that may be what prompted me to put it in the fridge.

          That's one of those products where you have to wonder how they make money. I don't know of anyone who quickly goes through a bottle of Tabasco! So, if there is not rapid turnover with people buying replacement bottles - how do the fine folks at the Tabasco company keep going?

          8 Replies
          1. re: DC Gal

            When I toured their factory it was clear that they sell a lot of it, all over the planet! I use it frequently (the original and habanero) and have found that my bottles, stored in the refrigerator, maintain both their flavor and color better than a friend's bottles kept in a kitchen cupboard where they are subjected to a combination of heat from cooking and hot summers!

            1. re: DC Gal

              To answer your questions:
              A) There are always people who will chug Tabasco on a dare. (And I've known a few.)

              B) Tabasco stays in business because they're a government contractor -- there's Tabasco in just about every MRE. :-)

              1. re: Covert Ops

                Yes, according to something I read somewhere, McIlhenny has sold 250 million or so tiny bottles of Tabasco to the US government for MREs. They're probably apreciated by soldiers if you imagine what the contents of MREs must taste like (I've not had the pleasure).

                The bottles hold 1/8 oz and are really pretty tiny and also admittedly pretty cute. I first encountered one on a hotel room service tray, and I've seen them for sale in lttle multi-packs along with other small culinary novelties, for more than the price of a bottle of Tabasco, naturally. The link below shows has a photo of one.


                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  MREs taste like exactly what they are -- packaged meals meant to withstand a nuclear strike. Hence, the Tabasco provides pretty much the only flavour in the packet. I knew men who put the Tabasco even on the peanut butter.

                  MREs are meant to keep you alive, they're not meant to taste good.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek


                2. re: Covert Ops

                  They also stay in business because it is deliciuous and everybody buys it.

                  1. re: antjones9


                    1. re: MIKELOCK34

                      I buy Tapatío brand myself, and I'll accept Cholula, though I'll use Tabasco when nothing else is available. You might want to check your Caps Lock, though -- it looks like you're SHOUTING.

              2. It actually gets better as it gets darker. The true Tabasco afficianados buy it way in advance and let it darken before using it. This is also true for Tapatillo sauce. It is not nearly as complex when bright orange color as when it get darker. I buy the 2 liter bottle and refill the little bottles with the "aged" stuff.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Just Larry

                  I have given up the classic Tabasco, and now prefer the Tabasco Habanero, more oomph. It doesn't last long enough in my pantry to change color, although I do buy it in multiples, so there is always some in my office closet, "aging".

                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                    I seek the "hot" sauces for flavor rather than heat. Sounds odd perhaps but in that vein I have forsaken the original Tabasco for the Jalapeno pepper sauce by the same manufacturer. It is bigger on flavor and has heat but not so much.

                    1. re: ChinoWayne

                      Tabasco Habanero is great. Totally agree.

                  2. On an archaeological dig, I found an unopened bottle of Tabasco in an Etruscan urn. It was still good.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: beevod

                      Beevod - you win for best answer. :-)

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        I don't like regular Tabasco precisely because of the vinegar taste. But I looooovvvveeee Tabasco's chipotle sauce, which has a nice, rounded flavor along with the heat. I once spotted a Tabasco soy sauce in New Orleans but didn't buy it and haven't seen it since. Would definitely give that a try.

                      2. re: beevod

                        I'm pretty sure Beowulf killed Grendel's mother and ate her with Tabasco.

                      3. OK, I know this is an old post, but I want to provide my update.

                        For years I have used Tabasco quite sparingly with only a few dishes. Last year I had some surgery and then some complications.

                        Since then, I have craved all things hot, and I am really starting to use Tabasco when I am out.

                        Well, long story short, I had a bottle of Tabasco in my pantry that was probably over 12 years old.

                        The problem was that it had gotten THICK at the opening, and when I tried to clear it, the smell was EXTREMELY STRONG, and when I tried to dispense it, it was as thick as Ketchup.

                        I had to get rid of it then and there.

                        Of course, this give me an excuse to get some of ALL TABASCO varieties now.

                        I just wanted to give my two cents worth.