The ranch is undeniably one of the most popular dressings in America since its invention in 1950. It has become a staple in most households when serving French fries, baby carrots, chicken wings, tortillas, and veggies.
Also, the ranch is easy to make, like mayo. But the question arises when it comes to their shelf life. And people often ask, does ranch go bad? And the answer is,
Yes, a jar of your favorite dressing will eventually go bad, whether homemade or store-bought. Due to the buttermilk base required to create the tanginess in the dressing, the ranch is considered a dairy product and has a shelf life of up to 6 months once it is opened.
Traditionally, the ranch is made by mixing dry spices into buttermilk; however, modern cooks often use fresh herbs to maximize flavors. So, if not made with the proper recipe or not handled properly, they go bad quickly.
And below in this article, we have discussed the reasons why ranch goes bad and how to preserve ranch properly. So, let’s hop on without further ado!
Why Do Ranches Go Bad?
Before knowing how to preserve your ranch for longer shelf life, you have to understand why the ranch goes bad and the conditions that facilitate its spoiling. And they are:
Ranch Contains Sensitive Ingredients
In cases where fresh ingredients were added to the ranch, the dressing becomes more susceptible to going bad if not properly stored.
Exposure to Heat
Due to the highly perishable ingredient list, manufacturers and home cooks alike recommend storing ranch below room temperature. Ranch becomes a suitable breeding area for bacteria despite its high acidity when exposed to heat.
Exposure to heat also causes the oil in the mayonnaise to oxidize and turn rancid, which alters the taste and texture of the dressing.
Contamination During Use
In a perfect scenario, everyone within your household would pull out a sauce plate every time they needed a dip. Unfortunately, common occurrences are half-eaten carrots, chips, and tortillas dipped into the jar.
As harmless as it may appear, dipping food items into the dressing jar gradually contaminate the dressing and introduces bacteria into the pot, making it bad.
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Guide to Know Whether Your Ranch Has Gone Bad
Consuming a ranch that has gone bad may be a serious health hazard, and you should scrutinize an old jar of the ranch to make sure it is still safe.
Here are some of the signs to look out for when trying to figure out whether your jar has gone bad.
The ranch that has gone bad will often begin to appear different from its original color. If your ranch has started to assume a yellowish or brownish color, it may be best to throw it out and whip up a new batch to enjoy along with your favorite snack.
Mold on the Ranch
Mould in a jar of ranch often appears along the rim of the jar with barely any signs within the dressing itself. Despite the human urge to scrape off the mold and dip it into the dressing, it might be time to ditch the jar and make a quick grocery run.
The appearance of mold in a jar is often a tell-tale sign of spores within its contents and could be dangerous to consume over some time.
There’s no better way to tell that a product is well on its way to the garbage than with a simple smell test. Naturally, safe to eat ranch will have a cool and familiar smell.
On the other hand, a jar of the bad ranch has a sour and vinegar-like odor that is often accompanied by a change in the texture of the dressing. The sour smell indicates the presence of bacteria and could result in illness if consumed.
A bloated bottle of the ranch is the most obvious giveaway that a jar should be discarded. Bloated packaging is a clear indication that there are bacteria present within the contents of the package.
The bloating is usually a result of bacteria producing gas which causes the bottle to expand.
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How Can You Safely Store Your Ranch to Increase Its Shelf Life?
Typically, ranch tucked away into the fridge after every use will be good for as long as needed. However, to increase the shelf life of your ranch dressing, you should consider;
Storing in a Cool and Dry Area
All unopened jars of the ranch should be stored safely in your pantry in an area that is cool and dry. Once a jar is opened, it should be returned to the fridge immediately after use.
Since the ranch is considered a dairy product, it should not be exposed to heat over long periods of time as this will create room for the breeding of bacteria and eventually turn the oil rancid.
Always Store Ranch in an Airtight Container
You should always store ranch in an airtight container to reduce interaction with bacteria and maximize its shelf life. Fortunately, store-bought jars of ranch come pre-packaged in an airtight container.
However, if the packaging is damaged in between uses, transferring it into a clean, sterilized, airtight container will save the remaining amount from going bad.
Freezing Your Ranch
Although there have been debates as to whether ranch should be frozen or not, it all comes down to personal preference. A frozen homemade jar will last up to 2 months without going bad, while a store-bought jar’s shelf life will increase drastically.
While freezing ranch, it is essential to note that once thawed, the dressing’s consistency, texture, and taste may be slightly different from the original.
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How Long Will Ranch Last? (Different Types)
How long a jar of ranch lasts depends on the storage conditions and whether the dressing is homemade or store-bought.
Below is a breakdown of how long your jars of the ranch have before they can no longer be consumed.
An Unopened Jar of Store-bought Ranch
Due to the preservatives involved in the manufacturing process, a jar of unopened store-bought ranch will last in your pantry without deteriorating quality for up to 18 months.
After this period, there may be a noticeable drop in quality, and you will need to inspect the jar thoroughly before consuming the ranch.
An Opened Jar of Store-bought Ranch
Although an opened store-bought jar does not share the longevity of an unopened one, it is still more stable than a homemade jar, due to the preservatives added while processing, and opened jar stored in the fridge will last up to 6 months.
However, due to its constant interaction with air and potential bacteria, any jar that has lasted more than nine months should be replaced.
If you accidentally leave your jar out overnight, inspect it carefully before refrigerating it. You may also want to consume the jar faster as its shelf life is compromised.
Fresh Homemade Ranch Last Long
Although the homemade ranch is unmatched when it comes to flavor, it can be difficult to preserve it over long periods of time. Homemade ranch made with fresh ingredients and stored in an airtight container can last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Due to the lack of preservatives in the dressing, any ranch past the two-week mark should be considered unsafe for consumption. If the jar is accidentally left out for over two hours, it may be time to get back in the kitchen and whip up a new one.
To avoid the hustle of worrying about the quality of a jar, you may want to make your ranch in small batches that can be finished in two servings.
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Can You Consume Ranch That Is Well Past Its Expiry Date?
Deciding whether or not to consume a jar of a ranch that is past its expiration date should be based on its storage conditions and whether or not it shows any signs of having gone bad.
According to manufacturers, the best before date indicates the period when a product can be used at its best quality. Once the period lapses, the product may be subject to change in texture and taste.
With that in mind, consuming a jar of a ranch that has been stored correctly in the fridge since it was opened is safe. An adequately stored jar of the ranch can be consumed for another three months after its expiration date.
However, you should beware of any sign of spoiling and discard a jar that appears off immediately.
So, now you know why the ranch goes bad? And how to store it properly for better shelf life. It might seem like a no-brainer, but if you want to keep your ranch dressing around for more than a few months, follow our tips.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your ranch will stay fresh and delicious for as long as possible. So what are you waiting for? Time to stock up on some ranch and start enjoying those tasty salads!