I often make salsa containing tomato, onion, garlic salt, green pepper, red pepper, lemon, and salt. I store it in a Glasslock container in the refrigerator. By the second day, the taste is still reasonable. By the third day, though it starts to get a strange smell and has a strange appearance, sometimes with white dots, perhaps from mold.

Is there anything I can do so that the salsa stays fresh for at least three days?

3 Answers 3


Acid is your friend here. You have some lemon, and tomatoes are acidic, but apparently that isn't enough. You should get at least a good week out of fresh salsa (mine lasts longer than that). Try adding a good shot of plain, distilled vinegar. Many recipes for salsa (including my own) include vinegar; add as much as you can without negatively affecting the flavor.

A bit of salt wouldn't hurt either, again, just to the maximum for good flavor.

  • You might be able to get away with adding more cider vinegar vs. white vinegar. They're typically diluted to the same acidity, but the sweetness of the cider vinegar might let you add more before it's overpowering.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 17:31
  • ...but apparently that isn't enough. Tomato pH is around 4-5, perfect conditions for certain common bacteria. Lemon and vinegar are much lower (~2) so I think you are on the right track here.
    – Air
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 18:44

dextrose and ascorbic acid, a.k.a. vitamin c, are both anti-microbials.

they can be found in commercial products like fruit fresh.

it's worked for me very well.

  • 2
    Dextrose is the wrong way to go here. It is a sugar, and is a food for bacteria in low concentrations. It only starts acting as preservative when there is enough of it - you'd have to make tomato marmalade, with at least 30% of dextrose, for it to start acting as a preservative.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 21:13
  • 1
    Fruit Fresh is indeed dextrose and ascorbic acid. It'd be the acid that'd be anti-microbial, but I'm not actually sure if it's strong enough for that. The main purpose is just to prevent browning.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 4:55
  • @rumtscho "Organic acids are used widely as antimicrobials in food products, e.g. lactic acid, citric acid, acetic acid, and their salts, either as ingredients, or as disinfectants" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimicrobial Commented Sep 11, 2014 at 14:42

Try replacing tomato with tomatillo, it will last for little more as it is more acid. Of course it will change the taste and color of your salsa but it is delicious. If your tomatillos are small you can have 2 per tomato, boil them in water. The idea behind salsa is that you make it before eating so it is fresh, that is how we do it in Mexico, you make the amount that you need as people won't appreciate not fresh/refrigerated salsa. Good luck.

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