Does Vegetable Broth Go Bad?

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I love vegetable broth and always have a supply of it in my pantry. Vegetable broth is basically the leftover liquid that vegetables are cooked in that is then used in other dishes. The broth is packed with flavor as it is made from a whole bunch of vegetables like carrots, onions, garlic, and much more. So, for any recipe that calls for water, you can easily substitute with a flavorful broth.

Vegetable broth can be used in stews, soups, gravies, pasta and rice dishes, or any dish that needs water for cooking. Vegetable broth can also be consumed on its own. Broth and stock are often used interchangeably, which is fine when it is a vegetable one, but when dealing with meat broths contains more bones and less meat, while stock uses more meat than bones.

Vegetable broths often contain more flavor and salt than stock, but more often than not they can be substituted for one another.

Vegetable broth can easily be whipped at home and stored away. It is easy to make, handy to have in your pantry or fridge, adds extra deliciousness and punch to dishes, and is healthy and easy to digest.

How Long Does Vegetable Broth Last?

  • Vegetable broth generally has a pretty long shelf life.
  • Store-bought vegetable broth, if unopened, can last for 1 to 2 years in the pantry. It will still be consumable even a couple of months after the expiry date if stored properly.
  • Unopened vegetable broth does not need to be refrigerated.
  • Once the vegetable broth has been opened, it will last in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days in an airtight container.
  • If you have homemade vegetable broth, it should be refrigerated as soon as possible, and it will last in the fridge for about 2 to 5 days. The main reason homemade broths have a shorter shelf life is that there are no preservatives or additives in them to extend their shelf lives. So, if you have whipped a large batch of vegetable broth, try and use it up within the 5-day window or freeze it.
  • Vegetable broth can easily be frozen and used. The frozen vegetable broth will last in the freezer for about 3 to 6 months depending on how it is stored.
  • You have to keep in mind that the shelf life of vegetable broth or any other food product depends largely on how well it is stored, the temperature and conditions under which it is stored as well as the quality of ingredients, and the presence of preservatives to name a few.
  • Also, most store-bought vegetable broths will come with a best-by or sell-by date. If you are ever in doubt, just go with what is printed on the box or package. Keep in mind that sell-by dates are an indicator of when the product reached peak quality. It does not imply when the product will spoil. The vegetable broth can still be consumed even after the best-by date, you just have to be aware that the quality might have reduced considerably.
  • Below you can find a table about the shelf life of vegetable broth under various storage conditions. It is just an estimate to give you an idea.
Type of Vegetable BrothPantryFridgeFreezer
Store-bought, unopened1 – 2 years1 – 2 years
Store-bought, opened
3 – 5 days3 – 6 months
2 – 5 days3 – 6 months

How Best To Store Vegetable Broth?

Vegetable broth has a pretty impressive shelf life already, but with a little bit of effort, we can make it last even longer. Proper storage conditions are the most important aspect of ensuring a long shelf life.

  • A store-bought, unopened box of vegetable broth need not be refrigerated. It can be kept in the pantry. It will last for a year or two. Make sure you are storing it in a cool, dark place away from direct heat and sunlight.
  • You can refrigerate an unopened box of vegetable broth, there is no harm.
  • If you do open the box, it is best to refrigerate it as soon as possible. If you have accidentally left an opened container of vegetable broth outside overnight, it is okay it should still be good.
  • The longer it stays outside, the higher the chances of spoilage. And if you live in a warmer climate, it again increases the chances of the broth going bad.
  • Your vegetable broth should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge with the lid closed tightly. The broth will be good for 3 to 5 days. Leaving it outside drastically cuts its life span.
  • Homemade vegetable broth has a similar shelf life, but it could start turning as early as 2 days after making it. This is because homemade broths don’t have preservatives or emulsifiers to extend their shelf life. You have to keep the homemade broth also in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • One option to extend the shelf life of homemade broth or store-bought broth that has been opened is to freeze it.
  • The vegetable broth can be stored in the container you got it from the store. But some of them might not be sturdy enough for the freezer. In that case transfer the broth into an airtight, freezer-friendly container where it will keep for 3 to 6 months.
  • You can thaw the broth overnight in the fridge or place it in a bowl of warm water.
  • Another good way to thaw it is over the stove. Just empty the frozen broth into a pot and heat on low.
  • While you can also thaw vegetable broth in the microwave, it does not thaw properly or equally.
  • Once the broth is thawed the already mild liquid will get further diluted. It will still have flavor and taste but the more you freeze and thaw, the milder and less potency the vegetable broth has. For this reason, it is inadvisable to refreeze already thawed broth.
  • If you are only looking at using a small quantity of the broth, then you can portion the broth out and freeze it in smaller batches. This way you only thaw and use what you need and the vegetable broth stays good and strong for longer.

How To Tell If Your Broth Has Spoiled?

  • Vegetable broth, as mentioned earlier, does not spoil easily, but it can get old. In such cases, the broth would have lost its flavor. It will still be usable, but the quality and potency of the broth would have waned.
  • The first indication of spoiled broth is if you get a really bad smell when you open the container. If it smells sour, rancid, or just “off” then your broth has probably gone bad.
  • Sometimes an unopened container of vegetable broth can be puffy or leaky, in that case, the broth is definitely old, most likely spoiled, and recommended not to consume it.
  • If you see any kind of mold or growth floating on the surface of the broth, then it has spoiled and should be discarded.
  • Finally, the taste. Spoiled vegetable broth will taste sour or bitter.
  • If your broth shows any of the above indicators, then it is time to discard the old and get a new batch of vegetable broth.

Vegetable broth is not just tasty and easily available but has plenty of health benefits. It is great for digestion, it helps build immunity and it is a great picker-upper when you are sick or recovering. Invest time, money, and effort in quality vegetable broths that will keep and keep you going for a long time.

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