Can you eat applesauce left out overnight?

Applesauce is a common food for both kids and adults alike. It’s tasty, nutritious, and easy to prepare and eat. But what if you accidentally leave a bowl or jar of applesauce out on the counter overnight? Is it still safe to eat?

The Short Answer

The short answer is that it depends. There are a few factors to consider when determining if applesauce left out overnight is still safe to eat:

– How long was it left out? If it was out for just a few hours, it’s probably fine. But more than 8-12 hours introduces risk.

– What temperature was it held at? Room temperature promotes bacteria growth. Refrigerator temperature slows it down.

– Does it show any signs of spoilage? Look for mold, an off smell, etc. Don’t eat it if anything seems off.

– Was it covered? An airtight cover protects better than uncovered.

So generally speaking, if applesauce is left out, covered, for less than 8-12 hours at cool room temperature, it’s likely still safe to eat. Anything longer than that is risky. When in doubt, it’s best to throw it out.

How Long Can Applesauce Be Left Out Before Going Bad?

The shelf life of applesauce depends on a variety of factors:

– Commercial vs homemade – Store-bought, commercially prepared applesauce contains preservatives and has been processed for safety in a food facility. It has a longer shelf life than homemade versions.

– Storage temperature – Refrigeration (40°F or below) significantly slows bacteria growth. Room temp accelerates it.

– Container – An airtight sealed container preserves freshness longer vs being left uncovered.

– Acidity level – More acidic foods inhibit bacterial growth more than less acidic options. Applesauce acidity varies.

Taking these factors into account, here are some general guidelines for applesauce shelf life:

– Unopened store-bought – 1 to 2 months past the “best by” date in the pantry.

– Opened store-bought – 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge.

– Homemade – 3 to 5 days in the fridge.

Once opened, all applesauce will eventually go bad. Signs include mold, unpleasant odors, changes in consistency, separation of liquids, or fizzing.

At Room Temperature

How long applesauce lasts at room temperature depends largely on whether it’s been previously refrigerated or not.

According to USDA food safety guidelines:

– Unrefrigerated applesauce may be left out at room temp for up to 8 hours. Discard if left longer.

– Previously refrigerated applesauce should not be left out more than 2 hours before discarding.

The warmer the room, the faster bacteria can multiply. On a very hot day (over 90°F), refrigerated applesauce shouldn’t be left out more than 1 hour.

When kept between 70-90°F, bacteria doubles every 20 minutes. So 8 hours at optimal temperatures allows dangerous levels to multiply.

Under Refrigeration

Cold temperatures significantly slow the growth of bacteria, extending applesauce’s shelf life.

In general, applesauce can be refrigerated for:

– Store-bought: 1 to 2 weeks past the “best by” date.

– Homemade: 3 to 5 days.

Proper refrigeration requires maintaining a temperature of 40°F or below. The back of the fridge is coldest.

Freezing applesauce can make it last 6-8 months. Thaw completely in the fridge before using.

Does Covering Applesauce Make It Last Longer?

Yes, covering applesauce can extend its shelf life by protecting it from contamination, moisture loss, and absorption of fridge odors.

An airtight lid or plastic wrap provides the best protection. The seal limits oxygen exposure which slows down spoilage.

Storing applesauce in its original jar with the lid tightly closed keeps air out. Transferring to a plastic or glass container with an airtight lid works too.

If stored uncovered, applesauce’s shelf life decreases due to:

– Direct air exposure – Oxygen can interact with the sauce, accelerating chemical reactions that cause it to spoil.

– Moisture loss – Uncovered applesauce loses moisture content to evaporation quicker.

– Absorption of odors – It can pick up smells from other foods in the fridge.

– Contaminants – More access for mold spores or bacteria to get into the sauce.

So keeping that applesauce covered extends the time it stays fresh!

How to Tell If Leftover Applesauce Has Gone Bad

Trust your senses to determine if applesauce left out overnight is spoiled:


– Mold – Fuzzy spots or colors on the surface like green, white, or black. Never eat moldy applesauce!

– Changes in color – Drastic lightening or darkening could indicate spoilage.

– Texture changes – Watery applesauce or liquid pooling on top.


– Sour or “off” odors – If it smells unpleasant, it’s safest to discard.

– Vinegar smell – This sharp, acidic scent means fermentation. Toss it.

– Rotten smell – A definite bad sign.


– Slime – If the applesauce develops a slimy texture or coating when you touch it, that’s a red flag for bacteria overgrowth.


– Tart, sharp taste – While applesauce starts tart, an intensified sharpness can mean it’s gone off.

– Funky flavors – If it tastes unpleasantly fermented or rotten, spit it out. Don’t risk swallowing.

When inspecting applesauce, err on the side of caution. If anything seems off, don’t chance it. Play it safe and throw away applesauce past its prime.

How Long Can Homemade Applesauce Be Left Out?

Homemade applesauce has a shorter shelf life than store-bought branded varieties. That’s because:

– No preservatives – Commercial applesauce contains preservatives like ascorbic acid that prolong shelf life. Homemade has none.

– Less acidic – More acidic foods resist spoilage better. Mass producers may add citric acid to lower pH.

– Less processed – Commercial applesauce is cooked at high heat for longer to kill bacteria. Home versions get less heating.

According to food safety experts, homemade applesauce should only be left out at room temperature for a maximum of 2 hours.

After that point, harmful bacteria begins multiplying rapidly. Within 8 hours, homemade applesauce can become unsafe to eat.

For best quality and food safety, homemade applesauce should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. It will maintain optimal freshness for 3 to 5 days.

To extend its shelf life, homemade applesauce can also be frozen for 4 to 6 months.

Does Refrigerating Applesauce After Opening Make It Last Longer?

Yes, refrigerating opened applesauce extends its shelf life significantly.

Cold temperatures slow down spoilage by inhibiting bacteria growth. Refrigeration guidelines:

Unopened store-bought applesauce – Can be stored in the pantry 1-2 months past the “best by” date.

Opened store-bought applesauce – Refrigerate after opening for 1-2 additional weeks.

Homemade applesauce – Should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking. Lasts 3-5 days.

Proper food safety for refrigerated applesauce includes:

– Transferring to an airtight storage container if needed.

– Placing in coldest section of refrigerator, typically the back.

– Labeling container with date applesauce was opened.

– Checking frequently for signs of spoilage like mold.

– Never putting a spoon that touched mouth back into applesauce.

With refrigeration, applesauce can retain optimal texture, flavor and safety well past leaving it on the counter overnight.

Can You Get Food Poisoning from Applesauce Left Out?

Yes, there is a risk of food poisoning when applesauce is left unrefrigerated too long. Bacteria like staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, mold and E. coli can grow if applesauce sits at room temperature over 2 hours.

Dangerous bacteria multiply quickly between temperatures of 40°F and 135°F. Within 8 hours in warm conditions, bacteria levels can reach unsafe amounts capable of causing illness.

Food poisoning symptoms often appear 12-36 hours after eating contaminated applesauce. They include:

– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Abdominal cramps
– Diarrhea
– Fever
– Chills
– Headaches

Vulnerable populations like pregnant women, children and the elderly have higher risk for complications and should be especially careful.

To avoid foodborne illness, never eat applesauce that is left uncovered overnight or shows any signs of spoilage. When unsure if applesauce is still good, remember – if in doubt, throw it out!

Tips for Safely Storing Leftover Applesauce

Here are some expert tips for storing applesauce to maximize freshness and minimize foodborne illness risks:

Refrigerate Promptly

Get applesauce into the fridge within 2 hours of preparing or opening. Cold temps keep bacteria in check.

Use Airtight Containers

An airtight lid or plastic wrap prevents oxygen exposure and moisture loss.

Check for Signs of Spoilage

Look for mold, smells, texture changes, etc. Discard immediately if anything seems off.

Label with Prep or Open Date

Track how long applesauce has been stored. Use oldest first.

Freeze for Long-Term Storage

Frozen applesauce lasts 4-6 months. Thaw completely before using.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

Don’t take risks with food safety. Toss applesauce if you have any concerns.

Does Canned Applesauce Go Bad?

Properly canned applesauce has an extremely long shelf life and usually does not go bad if the can remains undamaged and sealed.

Commercially canned applesauce can last 12-18 months or longer past its “best by” date, thanks to the canning process which uses high heat to kill bacteria prior to sealing.

According to food safety experts, shelf-stable canned applesauce has an indefinite shelf life as long as the can is not compromised in any way.

Signs that canned applesauce has spoiled and should be discarded include:

– Bulging or leaking can
– Corrosion, rust or dents on can
– Mushy or slimy texture
– Noticeable odor upon opening
– Mold
– Changes in color or consistency

Discard canned applesauce immediately if the can is leaking, bulging or shows signs of corrosion or damage. Never taste applesauce from a compromised can.

As long as the can remains in good condition, commercially canned applesauce has a lengthy shelf life and typically does not go bad before the best by date. However, for peak quality, try to use canned applesauce within 12-18 months.

The Bottom Line

So can you eat applesauce left out overnight? Here are the key takeaways:

– Unopened, shelf-stable applesauce can be left out 1-2 days past the “best by” date if the container is undamaged.

– Once opened, applesauce should be refrigerated within 2 hours and discarded within 1-2 weeks.

– Homemade applesauce only lasts 2 hours out or 3-5 days in the fridge.

– Leaving applesauce unrefrigerated over 8 hours introduces unsafe bacteria risk.

– Discard applesauce if there are any signs of spoilage like mold, smell, changes in texture or consistency.

– Refrigeration is the best way to extend the shelf life of opened applesauce.

The bottom line – when in doubt if applesauce left out overnight is still good, follow the old adage “better safe than sorry” and throw it out. With a highly perishable food like applesauce, it’s better to be cautious and not take risks with foodborne illness. Bon appétit!

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