I buy 3000 gram jars of San Marzano plum tomatoes, and when I open one, I have a lot left over. This time, I made a basic marinara from the pureed de-seeded/de-stemmed tomatoes with oil, garlic, spices, wine, etc., and I cooked it for about :40m.

When I was satisfied with the taste/consistency, I poured the boiling sauce into mason jars with very little space left at the top, and I used fresh canning lids to cover. I let them cool for about 30m then put them in the fridge.

I know this is not a canning procedure that would allow me to keep the sauce at room temp, but I would think that this method could give me more than the standard week or so that I'd expect a sauce to last in Tupperware.

Does anyone have recommendations based on actual knowledge or experience that could help me know how long this sauce would keep under constant refrigeration?

3 Answers 3


Anyone here who gives you an estimate beyond what a typical (non-canned) refrigerated sauce would last is just going to be speculating.

The thing about canning recipes from reputable sources is that they are tested scientifically. They often run hundreds of trials with testers for a particular recipe, then test each for bacterial growth, etc., before deciding a recipe is safe.

And the somewhat unfortunate thing (for your purpose) is that most of that testing has been done with the goal of having an unrefrigerated shelf-stable product. There are a lot fewer recipes and processes that have been tested that way for products that will be sealed and refrigerated afterward.

That said, the growth of the market in refrigerated convenience foods in recent years has led to new commercial processes. At a grocery store, you can sometimes find things like refrigerated soups or sauces that are sealed and have a somewhat extended lifespan (from a couple weeks to a few months). They won't last as long as a room-temperature canned product, but there are additional processing steps taken to give them a longer shelf life. (Some of it is due to preservatives too, but there are often processing steps similar to canning to add to shelf life.)

To my knowledge, most of these processes are still primarily handled on an individual basis by commercial producers, who often have to do testing themselves to ensure their products will be safe. I don't know of any reputable resource that discusses home recipes for sealed jars under refrigeration and their shelf-life. (The other aspect to the traditional canning recipes is that they are usually structured to keep stuff safe indefinitely under storage, rather than targeting a specific shelf life.)

So, in your case with an untested recipe and untested process, it's all just speculation. The biggest factors in spoiling of tomato sauces in the fridge are often due to mold and other spores that get into jars, so it's probable that your technique will stave off that concern a bit longer. But as to precisely how long your sauce will be safe, no one here can tell. Without testing, there's no guarantee it will have a safe shelf life beyond that of any unsealed refrigerated sauce you put in Tupperware or whatever other container.

  • Great answer, thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom.
    – John
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 21:39

As you state, you have not followed any canning procedures, so you don't get any more storage time than the standard recommendation. Glass vs plastic doesn't matter. So, I would just recommend freezing. Tomatoes, and tomato based sauces for that matter, freeze nicely. If you use freezer, zip-style bags, you can freeze them flat. They will then thaw rather quickly.

  • Thanks for the good advice. Freezing may be the way to go.
    – John
    Commented Jan 12, 2020 at 21:38
  • 2
    I usually also freeze this kind of sauces in ice cube trays. Once frozen, I relocate them to a zip-style bag and that allows me to have individual portions always at hand.
    – ana.arede
    Commented Jan 13, 2020 at 15:51
  • My 5 gal tubs of chili sit covered in fridge 3-4 days for maximal flavor development. Beyond that I run risk of pushing too hard. Bad things can and do happen once in a while. Freezing -20F stops trouble. Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 3:42

Athanasius is correct that any comment you'll get here is anecdotal at best - so here's my anecdote. We do exactly this regularly (we make a batch of Marinara, put it in a mason/bell jar with a standard canning lid directly from the stove, let cool, then put in the refrigerator or freezer).

We don't get much more than a week, maybe 2 at most, before mold starts visibly growing in the sauce typically. We certainly don't plan for more than 7 days in the fridge. Nearly all of our sauce, except any we immediately plan to use and/or any small leftovers from a usage that are not worth freezing, is put in the freezer as a result. I recommend the same.

  • Thanks Joe. It's good to hear from someone who has done this themselves.
    – John
    Commented Jan 14, 2020 at 0:46

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