How Long Can Fresh Salsa Be Left Out?

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A combination of raw produce and a host of other seasonings, salsa is a favorite of those who like to dip their chips. Before you dive into the fiery mix, consider how long it has been sitting out. Left out for extended periods of time, bacteria on salsa multiplies at alarming rates. Eating fresh salsa containing high levels of bacteria leaves you susceptible to serious foodborne illnesses that could otherwise be avoided with safe handling.

On the Counter

Freshly made salsa only keeps for two hours outside of the refrigerator before bacteria begins to grow to dangerous levels. If the surrounding air temperatures are 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, the salsa only remains safe to eat for one hour before bacteria levels begin to rise. Do not refrigerate or freeze fresh salsa that sits out longer than recommended. Instead, throw it away and thoroughly wash the container with hot, soapy water.

Suspicious Salsa

Whether you are at a dinner party or on the buffet line of your favorite restaurant, it may be impossible to know for sure how long fresh salsa has been sitting outside of refrigeration. Salsa that is left out too long may develop an off odor or undergo subtle changes in color and texture. Stored improperly, fresh salsa may also develop mold. If any of these spoilage indicators are present, the salsa may not be safe to eat.

Safe Handling

Once prepared, store salsa in the refrigerator, removing it from refrigeration just before serving. As long as you place it back in the refrigerator before the two hours is up -- or within the one hour time frame in hot weather -- dangerous bacteria is a non-issue. Stored in an airtight container, fresh salsa keeps for four to seven days in the refrigerator. After this time, throw the salsa away and wash the container.

The Freezer Option

Freezing doesn’t kill bacteria, but it does stop it from multiplying. Stored in chilly temperatures of 0 degrees F and below, fresh salsa keeps indefinitely. This makes freezing an ideal alternative for any leftover salsa that you do not plan to eat right away. As long as it has not been left out longer than the recommended safe times, scoop it into a plastic freezer bag and pop it in the freezer.