Does marinade go bad?

Adding a marinade to the meat of fish has been around for centuries. It adds flavor and moisture to the protein making it more succulent and flavorsome. Many commercial suppliers of meats such as chicken, lamb, and beef supply their meats already marinated and sealed in vacuum packs for convenience, but does marinade go bad?

Did you know there is a scientific formula for making the perfect marinade? It’s oil and acid, something sweet then something savory, and then spices and aromatics to bring the flavor to a powerful crescendo.

In this article, we will examine whether marinades can last the test of time or if they go bad. We answer frequently asked questions so you can be the marinade authority in your kitchen.

Let’s get into it.

Do marinades expire?

Yes and no. If you buy a commercially available marinade that is based on spice mixes, then the chances are it will have an incredibly long shelf life while unopened. However, the clock ticks down to the expiry date once the marinade is opened.

Expiry dates are contentious issues and should be viewed as an indicator of when the product has its maximum flavor profile and not the end of its life. Many marinades will last months past the expiry date if stored correctly.

Once you have bathed your protein in the marinade, the marinade will become contaminated with any bacteria that the protein is retaining, making the marinade a one-time use only. After twenty-four to forty-eight hours of marinating the protein, the marinade should be discarded.

Homemade marinades will expire faster depending on the ingredients and the storage method. Homemade marinades tend to use fresh ingredients that will start to degrade as soon as they are exposed to oxygen, so something like cilantro wits quickly and loses its flavor.

Do marinades need to be refrigerated?

It depends. If you have a store-bought marinade that is more of a sauce than an herb-filled one, it will last stored in a cool, dry place unopened for a long time. You could store this type of marinade in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet for a few months past the expiry date and find the marinade to be perfectly usable.

Marinades with herbs should be refrigerated to extend the product’s life, but commercially available marinades will have a long shelf life, and refrigeration may be optional.

Open marinades should be stored in the fridge to extend the product’s life.

Of course, homemade marinades should be stored in the fridge, and the shelf life will be short, so they should be used within a couple of days to get the flavor profile you expect from a homemade marinade.

If you have your protein bathing in a marinade, it should be covered with an airtight lid or Glad wrap at the very least and placed in the fridge for the marinating time.

Avoid being tempted to leave protein to marinate on the side. After a couple of hours at room temperature, most proteins will have developed enough bacteria load to be considered potentially dangerous, according to the USDA.

Does the marinade need to be covered?

Once the protein is marinating, it needs to be covered and placed in the refrigerator, preferably cover the protein and marinade with a sealable airtight lid so the bacteria on the protein will not spread to anything else within the fridge.

How long can a marinade sit out?

Unopened store-bought marinades can sit out to the expiry date and beyond if stored correctly in a cool dark area like a pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Home-made marinades should be kept from sitting out. Place them in the fridge. They may contain acid and spices. According to the USDA, any perishable food sitting out for two hours or more should be considered garbage and discarded due to the accelerated growth of bacteria.

Protein resting in a marinade should not be left to sit out. Once prepared and covered, place it in the fridge for the marinating time and then cook.

How long does marinade last in the fridge?

It depends on the ingredients; unopened marinades will last beyond the expiry date. Opened marinades will last for a month, possibly two, depending on what’s in the marinade.

If stored correctly in an airtight container, homemade marinades can last for a couple of weeks max in the fridge.

However, protein covered in marinade should only last for 48 hours max in the fridge before being discarded.

Does frozen marinade go bad?

Not really. In theory, frozen products are kept constantly, or below 0℉ have an indefinite shelf life, and do not go bad in a sense, you may expect perishable food to go bad. Freezing marinades for extended periods on or off the protein will diminish the flavor profile of the marinade. It will lose its aromatics.

You can freeze homemade marinades in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for up to six months without degradation of the marinade.

Freezing a protein with marinade does not enhance the flavor of the protein, and the marinade does not penetrate further into the protein.

Does unopened marinade go bad?

Yes. But it will depend on the ingredients of the marinade to some extent. A creamy marinade will expire faster than a marinade based on vinegar and spices. It is common sense.

Marinades come with an expiry date, and it’s worth keeping an eye on expiry dates. Marinades that are bad will grow mold and have a funky smell. If you have marinade like this, it is not safe to use and should be discarded immediately.

When does chicken go bad in marinade?

After two days if you have chicken marinating in the fridge, only keep it for two days and then cook it straight away. Any longer, the bacteria on the chicken will proliferate and potentially make the chicken inedible.

If chicken has gone bad, it will smell foul (excuse the pun). Bad chicken smells awful and is easy to recognize. Marinades should not make chicken or any other meat slimy. If your chicken is slimy, dispose of it quickly.

Can you freeze marinated meat?

Yes. It is not a problem to freeze marinated meat. It will not enhance the flavor profile by freezing in the marinade, but it’s perfectly safe and will last for a minimum of six months. The meat must be packaged correctly, such as in an airtight container, so the marinade is not slopping around.

Can you freeze marinated steaks?

Marinated steaks are perfect for freezing. Lay the steaks in a ziplock bag individually so you can remove them one at a time. Place the Ziplocs in an airtight container, and the steaks will be perfect for at least six months if no longer stored below 0℉.

Good packaging prevents freezer burn, so never place a marinated steak in the freezer directly from the grocery store. The packaging needs to be better for long-term storage.

Different types of marinade

Does teriyaki marinade go bad?

If unopened, teriyaki marinade will last for approximately three years if stored in a cool dark environment like a pantry or kitchen cabinet.

Teriyaki is a simple marinade that gives it a long stable shelf life. Its ingredients are primarily soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and sake, non of which are not prone to being shelf unstable. Although minimal, the alcohol content will be a preservative with the salty soy sauce.

Quality soy sauce in an unopened bottle will almost last until the end of time.

Once you open the teriyaki marinade, it has a shelf life of approximately six months, give or take a month or two.

Refrigerating the open bottle of teriyaki marinade will extend its life slightly, but nothing significant,

Can you freeze BBQ sauce?

Yes, you can freeze bbq sauce. However, frozen products can remain frozen for a very long time, but they change in the quality and eventually become inedible. You should place the bbq sauce in an airtight container and place it in the freezer. It should last forever if frozen below 0℉ constantly.

Try to consume the bbq sauce within six months of freezing to remain with a decent quality sauce. Any longer and the sauce’s texture will be different, which is caused by ice crystals forming in the liquids in the sauce, which crush the structure of the sauce component to a mush making the sauce seem watery.

Extended freezing of bbq sauce will diminish the sauce’s flavor until it becomes bland with very little flavor.

Final thoughts

Check the expiration date of your marinades frequently so they can be used. Unopened marinades have a long shelf life depending on the ingredients, so don’t assume that all marinades can last for six months or more because they can.

Choose teriyaki if you want a marinade that will last a long time. Unopened, it can last up to three years and open for six months.

Home-made marinades have a short shelf life but have a better flavor profile, keep homemade marinades in an airtight container in the fridge for a max of two weeks.

You can freeze marinades for approximately six.

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