How Long You Have To Eat An Open Container Of Pesto

Whether you're using a jar from the store or mixing up your own basic pesto recipe, this herby sauce can be an excellent pairing for several dishes. Once your pesto has been opened, however, you should close its lid tightly, store it in the refrigerator, and plan to finish it within three days. This may seem like a short time window, but it helps ensure that you enjoy the highest-quality pesto.

While the sauce is generally okay to eat up to two weeks after opening and refrigerating, you may notice a significant drop in its flavor and texture after that three-day mark. Before you help yourself to a spoonful, always check it for unusual smells, sights, or tastes. Any off-putting qualities are a clear indicator that you should toss out your leftovers and opt for something else instead.

Of course, if you're using store-bought pesto, always pay attention to the best-by date on the jar. Even if the jar has remained sealed and stored in a cool place, eating the pesto after it has expired puts you at risk for accidental bacteria ingestion.

Keep your pesto even longer in the freezer

If you find that your jar of pesto is still safe to eat but no longer tastes herby and vibrant, you can mix in some fresh ingredients to revive its flavor. A bit of basil, parsley, or thyme can provide more savoriness, while a splash of lemon juice or honey can help tone down any bitter notes. As a bonus, that lemon juice may also help preserve the pesto's vibrant green color.

If you aren't able to finish your jar of pesto within a few days, consider pouring the leftovers into an airtight freezer-safe container, and freezing it for later use. Frozen pesto should be defrosted and consumed within six months.

For portioning out smaller serving sizes, try pouring the sauce into an ice cube tray — once the pesto is frozen, pop out the cubes and store them in a sealed freezer bag. Then, when you're ready to reheat the sauce for your pasta, you can pop out a cube or two to defrost, leaving the rest frozen for later.

How to use up leftover pesto

If you'd rather not take up extra space in your freezer, the versatile sauce can be used in quite a few different ways to ensure it won't go to waste. If you're craving a bowl of pasta, you can upgrade store-bought pesto by transforming it into a creamy sauce. Simply mix in a little heavy cream and shredded cheese, heat the mixture, and toss it with your al dente noodles.

If you're tired of simple marinara sauce on your pizza, consider using pesto as the base for a homemade pie. Pair it with mozzarella and your favorite fresh toppings, like burst cherry tomatoes. Or, drizzle the pesto on top as an extra burst of savory flavor.

For a protein-packed idea, cook some steak or chicken, and spread the sauce over the meat to add a lighter, fresher flavor to your meal. If you're looking for something simpler, pesto can also be used as a spread on cheesy sandwiches, or enjoyed alongside a fried egg with your morning toast.