CHOICE membership

Pasta sauces - use within a few days

Imagine a couple, where one half likes eating pasta now and again.
Or imagine a single person who likes pasta, now and again.
Both pasta lovers have to put up with what seems to be an outrage: supermarkets stock pasta sauces whose labels suggest the contents are to be used in a few days after opening. Some are said to be good for 3 days and others up to 5 days after refrigeration.

Having purchased many different brands over the last few years, it’s clear that most contents are visually “off” after a few days. Many that are not visually “off” (the green muck growing on the sides of the jar a good hint), sure taste bad after a week.

This means that countless gallons of pasta sauces are discarded because they are not fully consumed in a few days of opening. And how could they be if only one person in a household, see above for illustrative purposes, is a pasta eater. I assume others, like me, do not enjoy it so much that we eat it nightly.

Is it not time to demand the big manufacturers and marketers of the stuff:

Dolmio (produced by Mars)
Leggo’s (Simplot)
Raguletto (Simplot)
Latina Fresh (General Mills)
Barilla
Coles, ALDI and Woolworths home brands

stop patting themselves on the back about “doing well” when it comes to “global warming” (or “climate change”) and face the fact that supplying products with such short fridge shelf lives smacks of a blatant unsustainable production process, where the consumption of natural resources and energy is wasteful, egregious behaviour that must be tamed.

I am no food technologist but believe that food goes off when bacteria thrive, ie upon opening a jar and then placing it in the fridge.What is needed is to decelerate the growth of bacteria, this will extend the pasta sauce’s fridge life. I am unsure what options are available to manufacturers other than introduce acid into the product, which is a key reason mustard lasts for weeks or more in the fridge as acid slows down bacterial growth, so I am informed.

4 Likes

The options are to have pasta sauce pasteurised making it sterile until the container is opened…to having foods containing added preservatives to prolong shelf life after opening. I personally would prefer foods without added preservatives.

An easy option to prolong storage life of left over sauce is to freeze it. Or make more pasta to use all the sauce and freeze leftovers…a quick meal to microwave when one doesn’t feel like cooking.

11 Likes

Tomatoes are acidic in nature, no need to add more. Just freeze it like @phb has rightly suggested :slightly_smiling_face:

Also if in the fridge for a few days: top the container with vegetable oil.

9 Likes

@phb and @Gaby Freezing the sauce, huh? That I did NOT think of.
I did consider making more pasta dishes and freezing them in single serve containers, but like the freezing of the sauce much more. Molte grazie!

5 Likes

De Rien :slightly_smiling_face:

2 Likes

When looking at fridge life you need to consider fungi as well as bacteria. Some simple substances like salt, sugar or edible acids may increase fridge life but to have a major effect need to be present in high concentrations and this may make the food unpalatable. I doubt you would enjoy pasta sauce that was very sweet, very salty or very sharp. In some foods eg olives are traditionally very salty so it is no matter.

I doubt that. Prepared mustard is not particularly acidic. I checked a few and many seem to contain citric acid, but so do some pasta sauces. A pasta sauce that was tomato based would stand the addition of more acid since it is an acid fruit anyway but a creamy one would not. I think the longevity of mustard is due to other things and acidifying pasta sauce more would not work.

I don’t see that the makers are deliberately setting out to make sauce with a short shelf life after opening.

There are some alternatives. The makers could add heavy weight artificial preservatives but that would not be popular. As it is most pasta sauces are reasonably free of ‘test tube’ type chemicals and people seem to like it that way.

Second, you could see if any maker sells theirs in a small one or two person container.

The third you can try yourself. From a freshly opened jar serve out what you need taking care to use a clean spoon that hasn’t been used for anything else and put the rest in a small clean plastic freezer container with a good lid and then immediately freeze it. This should add a few weeks to the shelf life without undue risk.

4 Likes

Salt is used as the principle preservative in mustard (Dijon, wholegrain, English. American etc). It is over 1% salt (some are 2-3% or more).

4 Likes

Maybe the manufacturer could do single serve sachets, and that the sachets are bio degradable when sent to landfill

6 Likes

Welcome @Geejay73!

That’s a good idea, in fact I’ve recently bought a 200g packet of Legos tomato paste which contains 4 individually sealed sachets.
Would be good to also have individual servings of pasta sauce :slightly_smiling_face:

7 Likes

Per gram such small packets are not good value. They may of course be worthwhile if you lose a large amount of a cheaper container to waste. You pays your money and takes your choice.

4 Likes

I make my own pasta sauce, usually using a tomato Passata. Tomato paste is an item kept at the back of my cupboard ‘just in case’.
When I do use it, and as we know it’s very concentrated, a little goes a long way. Haven’t tried the sachets yet, might be worth the extra money, we do pay more for convenience🙂

5 Likes
  1. Cook from a recipe and don’t use store sauce.
  2. Cook more than one meals worth and freeze the remainder.
  3. Don’t freeze the pasta component
4 Likes

Oh I wish! This is my pet peeve with both supermarkets and food manufacturers. Singles are totally overlooked in the relentless march to ever bigger packs of everything. So what do we do? Either throw stuff away or don’t buy. I just don’t buy. And before everyone starts with the “freeze it” mantra, I bet you don’t eat frozen foods for every.single.meal. So why should we just because we are not catering to an army three times a day. And just for your information, singles are less likely to have a freezer beyond the one above/below the fridge. Just how much do you think can be stored there?

2 Likes

Good points you made. Thanks.

1 Like
  • Heat a little garlic and sliced onion in some olive oil.
  • Empty a 400g tin of diced or crushed tomatoes over it.
  • To make it a richer: Leggo’s makes a 400g plastic bottle of tomato paste that sits upside down on a flat lid. Squeeze out what you need; no air gets in so it lasts a long time in the fridge.
  • At the end, season and add some basil or oregano. Whatever you have: fresh, dried or from the little squeeze tube.

This makes about 450g of sauce and can all be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta. Use what you need and freeze the rest. Freezing is not a compromise; it tastes just as good defrosted in a couple of weeks. For variety, you can add a little chilli or cooked mince or bacon if you like.

3 Likes

What a nice, simple, tasty, pasta sauce recipe!
For those who cook for only a few people it is ideal to make a sauce from scratch, just enough as needed.
Although, I do think it is a fallacy to think that cooking for many avoids leftover ingredients (if anything I think surplus is proportional to the number of servings :laughing:) but just in case, there’s nothing wrong with freezing, and it’s a much better alternative to going without, or to wasting food :slightly_smiling_face:

3 Likes