Does Duck Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

by G.D. Palmer

    Duck sauce is a fruit-based sweet and sour condiment used in Americanized Chinese food such as fried wontons and Peking duck. This close relative of Chinese plum sauce usually includes vinegar and large amounts of sugar, giving it a relatively long shelf life. That doesn’t mean it won’t go bad, however. Pay attention to the age of your duck sauce, whether it comes in a jar or in packets, to make sure your next eggroll experience is flawless.

    Under the Seal

    Manufacturers list different expiration dates on jarred duck sauce, based on how long they think the condiment will stay in peak condition. One major brand keeps for at least 540 days, or about a year and a half, if the seal is intact. You don’t need to refrigerate duck sauce that’s still in its sealed jar, but you might see a decrease in quality if you use it after the expiration date.

    Chill Out

    After opening, duck sauce needs to go in the refrigerator. Its high sugar and moisture content make it an ideal environment for mold. In cold conditions, however, this sauce keeps a long time. Most brands will stay fresh for up to a year in the fridge. They’re usually safe to eat even after this amount of time, but they might change color or develop off-flavors. If you think your duck sauce might be too old, discard it and buy a fresh jar.

    All Those Little Packets

    Anyone who has ever ordered restaurant Chinese food is familiar with the plastic packets of soy and duck sauce that most establishments add to the order. These hermetically sealed packets have been designed to keep mold out, but they often go bad faster than jarred condiments. Heinz rates its packets of duck sauce for about six months. On the My Fox Memphi website, clinical dietician Christy Fernandez suggests refrigerating leftover packets to increase their storage life.

    Making It Fresh

    If you prefer to avoid the corn syrup and artificial colors common in commercial duck sauces, try making your own. Homemade sauces use fresh fruit and other wholesome ingredients for a stronger flavor and more balanced taste. They don’t keep quite as long, however. Serious Eats recommends storing homemade duck sauce in the refrigerator for no longer than three weeks.

    About the Author

    G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.

    Photo Credits

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