Many people have a bottle of horseradish that has been in the back of their fridge since time immemorial. But just how long does this pungent, spicy condiment last? Does horseradish go bad? Or does it – like hot sauces – last a long time? For freshness guidelines and proper storage techniques for prepared horseradish, fresh horseradish root, and homemade horseradish sauce, read on.
Prepared, Store-Bought Horseradish
Sure, horseradish is plant material, but you can easily extend its shelf life. Toss any unused but opened prepared horseradish after three or four months, though it is likely safe for up to six months. Far earlier than that, however, the condiment will begin to lose the fresh zing that horseradish fans crave. This happens starting at the four week mark, though again, it is still perfectly safe to eat.
At the absolute outside, a good rule of thumb to use is the six month, one year rule: toss and replace all condiments every six months; toss and replace spices every year. An exception here would be if you were to freeze your prepared horseradish in an airtight plastic container; you might get up to a full year of storage, though you will certainly lose some quality.
Fresh, Raw Horseradish Root
For best results, use raw horseradish root within a few weeks of purchase. However, the root should stay fresh in the refrigerator for one to two months if properly stored, though it will start to lose its pungency far sooner.
Proper storage includes wrapping the root tightly in at least two layers of plastic wrap, and taking care not to introduce any moisture to the package. To freeze horseradish root for longer storage, grate the root first; whole pieces of the root do not seem to freeze as well for whatever reason.
Homemade Horseradish Sauce
According to the Horseradish Information Council (yes, there’s a Horseradish Information Council!), prepared horseradish of all types will stay fresh for the guidelines listed here above under the “store-bought” heading. Simply follow safe food handling procedures such as proper hand-washing, using clean tools and maintaining food safe temperatures for prepared foods, and store the finished product in the refrigerator in an airtight jar for best results with extended storage.
Regardless of the general guidelines presented above, if your homemade or store-bought prepared horseradish begins to smell or taste “off,” begins to darken in color or mold appears, do not eat or serve it. Throw it away immediately.