How long does tomato paste in a tube keep?

Tomato paste in a tube, also known as tube tomato paste, is a convenient way to store tomato paste for longer term use. But how long does tube tomato paste actually last? Here is a comprehensive look at how long tube tomato paste keeps, how to tell if it has gone bad, and how to store it to maximize shelf life.

Quick Answer

An unopened tube of tomato paste will typically last 2-3 years past the ‘best by’ date printed on the package when stored properly in a cool, dark place. An opened tube will keep for about 1 month in the refrigerator. Signs that tomato paste has spoiled include mold, foul smell, watery texture, or changes in color.

How Long Does Unopened Tube Tomato Paste Last?

An unopened tube of tomato paste typically lasts:

  • At room temperature: 2-3 years past printed ‘best by’ date
  • In the pantry: 2-3 years past printed ‘best by’ date
  • In the fridge: 3-4 years past printed ‘best by’ date
  • In the freezer: 4-5 years past printed ‘best by’ date

The ‘best by’ date on the package is simply the manufacturer’s estimate for when the tomato paste will be at peak quality and flavor. As long as it has been stored properly, unopened tube tomato paste lasts well beyond that date.

Shelf Life After Opening

Once opened, the shelf life is shortened due to exposure to air and contaminants each time it is used:

  • Refrigerator: 1 month
  • Freezer: 6 months

Write the date opened on the tube with a marker to help track usage time. Transfer any unused portion to an airtight container or plastic bag before freezing to prevent freezer burn.

How to Tell if Tube Tomato Paste Has Gone Bad

Although tomato paste keeps for a long time, it will eventually spoil. Signs that tube tomato paste has gone bad include:

  • Mold growth
  • Noticeable change in color
  • Watery, runny texture
  • Off smell, such as sour, rancid or unpleasant

If you notice any of these signs, throw the tomato paste away. Consuming spoiled tomato paste can potentially cause unwanted side effects like stomach upset, nausea or diarrhea.

Does Tomato Paste Go Bad?

Yes, tomato paste can go bad eventually. Tomato paste has a relatively long shelf life compared to other tomato products because it has been cooked down to remove a lot of the moisture. This concentrated texture prevents microbial growth.

Over time, the quality and flavor will degrade. Exposure to light, heat and oxygen will speed up the breakdown process. Using spoiled tomato paste is not recommend as it can cause digestive issues if consumed.

How to Store Tube Tomato Paste

To maximize the shelf life of tomato paste tubes after opening, follow these tips:

  • Refrigerate after opening
  • Seal tube tightly after each use
  • Use within 1 month
  • Transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers if freezing

Unopened tubes of tomato paste should be stored:

  • In a cool, dark pantry or cupboard away from direct sunlight
  • At moderate room temperature or cooler
  • Rotating older tubes to the front to use first

The refrigerator or freezer can extend shelf life of unopened tubes. Allow refrigerated paste to come to room temperature before using to prevent changes in consistency.

What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Tomato Paste?

Consuming spoiled tomato paste typically causes unpleasant digestive symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

The bacteria and mold that cause tomato paste to spoil can survive in the acidic environment and lead to foodborne illness when ingested. Symptoms may start within hours or could take 1-3 days to develop.

In healthy adults, food poisoning from spoiled tomato products will typically resolve on its own with rest and hydration. Seek medical care if symptoms are severe or last more than 1-2 days.

Can You Freeze Tomato Paste Tubes?

Yes, you can safely freeze tube tomato paste to extend the shelf life. Freezing stops bacteria growth that causes food spoilage.

For best quality, use frozen tomato paste within 6 months. Allow the tube to thaw in the refrigerator before using.

To prevent freezer burn, transfer any remaining paste after opening to an airtight freezer bag or container. Exclude as much air as possible and seal tightly.

Can You Refrigerate Unopened Tomato Paste Tubes?

Yes, unopened tube tomato paste can be refrigerated to prolong freshness. The cold temperature of the refrigerator slows down deterioration.

Refrigerating unopened tomato paste tubes can extend the shelf life by 1-2 years past the ‘best by’ date on the package.

Let refrigerated tubes come completely to room temperature before opening to prevent condensation from forming inside the tube.

Does Refrigerating Tomato Paste After Opening Help?

Yes, refrigerating opened tomato paste tubes helps extend the shelf life significantly. Keeping opened tomato paste tubes in the fridge slows down bacteria growth and mold.

Properly stored in the refrigerator, opened tomato paste tubes will keep for about 1 month after opening. The paste may start to develop an off-flavor or aroma over this time.

For best quality, use refrigerated opened tomato paste within 1-2 weeks. Transfer any unused portions to a freezer bag.

How Long Can You Keep Tomato Paste After Opening?

After opening a tube of tomato paste, it will stay good for:

  • 1 month in the refrigerator
  • 6 months in the freezer

Always refrigerate opened tomato paste tubes between uses. This prevents the growth of mold and bacteria, which can cause illness.

For optimal freshness and flavor, use opened refrigerated tomato paste within 1-2 weeks. If you won’t use it all up, transfer leftover amounts to the freezer immediately.

Signs of Spoiled Tomato Paste

Here are some common signs that opened tomato paste has spoiled and should be discarded:

  • Mold growth – Fuzzy mold appearing on the surface or inside the tube indicates spoilage.
  • Watery consistency – Runny texture that seems more thin than normal.
  • Changes in color – Unnatural colors like orange, blue or green indicate spoilage.
  • Sour smell – Rancid or unpleasant aromas mean the paste is spoiled.

If your opened tomato paste exhibits any of these signs, it is best to throw it away. Consuming spoiled tomato products can potentially cause foodborne illness.

Does Refrigerating Unopened Tomato Paste Help It Last Longer?

Yes, refrigerating unopened tomato paste tubes can extend the shelf life. Since cold temperatures slow down food spoilage, this can add 1-2 years past the ‘best by’ date.

To maximize freshness, store unopened tomato paste tubes in the fridge rather than the pantry once you buy them. They will keep longer chilled.

Allow refrigerated tubes to come fully to room temperature before opening to prevent condensation inside. Afterwards, refrigerate again to preserve the freshness.

What Is the Shelf Life of Tomato Paste?

The shelf life of tomato paste depends on whether it is opened or unopened:

  • Unopened – 2-3 years past ‘best by’ date when stored properly.
  • Opened – 1 month in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

Shelf life is shortened once exposed to air, light and fluctuations in temperature after opening. Properly storing tomato paste helps extend the shelf life.

Does Tomato Paste Need to Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Yes, tomato paste should always be refrigerated after opening to maximize freshness. The cool temperature of the refrigerator slows down spoilage.

An opened tube of tomato paste will keep for about 1 month in the fridge. Make sure to properly seal the tube after each use.

Refrigeration is key for preserving flavor and preventing mold growth or bacterial overgrowth after exposure to air.

How Long Does Tomato Paste Last in the Fridge?

Tomato paste will last for the following times in the refrigerator:

  • Unopened: 2-3 years past printed ‘best by’ date
  • Opened: 1 month after opening

The chilled temperature of the refrigerator significantly slows down spoilage. Be sure to store tubes in the main fridge compartment rather than the door.

For best quality, use opened tomato paste within 1-2 weeks. Transfer any remaining paste to an airtight freezer bag or container.

Does Tomato Paste Go Bad if Not Refrigerated?

Yes, tomato paste that is not refrigerated after opening will go bad much quicker. Without refrigeration, bacteria and mold growth rapidly accelerates.

Leaving opened tomato paste tubes stored at room temperature can allow spoilage within 1-2 weeks. Refrigerating extends the shelf life to 1 month.

For food safety, always refrigerate opened tomato paste. If it has been left out more than 2 hours, it is best to discard.

Can You Store Tomato Paste in the Pantry Once Opened?

No, tomato paste should never be stored in the pantry after it has been opened. The shelf life is drastically reduced once exposed to air and higher temperatures.

To prevent spoilage and foodborne illness, refrigerate opened tomato paste tubes. The refrigerator temperature slows bacteria growth.

For optimal quality, use refrigerated opened tomato paste within 1 week. Discard any paste left out more than 2 hours after opening. The pantry does not provide the cool environment needed to safely store opened tomato paste.

Should You Put Tomato Paste in the Fridge?

Yes, it is recommended to refrigerate tomato paste for optimal freshness and food safety. Here are some key benefits of refrigerating tomato paste:

  • Prolongs shelf life of both opened and unopened tubes.
  • Slows down spoilage from bacteria, mold and enzymes.
  • Maintains flavor, texture and color longer.
  • Prevents risk of foodborne illness from contaminated tomato paste.

Refrigerating unopened tubes can extend the shelf life by 1-2 years past the ‘best by’ date. Opened tubes should always be refrigerated and used within 1 month.

The cold temperature of the refrigerator helps inhibit chemical reactions and microbial growth that causes tomato paste to deteriorate. For optimal freshness, refrigeration is highly recommended.

How to Store Tomato Paste Long Term

Here are some tips for longer term storage of tomato paste:

  • Refrigerate unopened tubes to prolong shelf life by 1-2 years.
  • Freeze unopened tubes for up to 4-5 years past ‘best by’ date.
  • Always refrigerate opened tubes and use within 1 month.
  • Transfer opened tomato paste to airtight freezer bags or containers if freezing.
  • Allow refrigerated or frozen tomato paste to come to room temperature before use.
  • Store in cool, dark place away from direct light or heat sources.
  • Avoid extreme temperature fluctuations.

Proper storage conditions help prevent premature spoilage. Refrigeration and freezing enable much longer shelf life for both unopened and opened tomato paste tubes.


Tomato paste in tubes can be preserved for extended periods if stored correctly. Unopened tubes keep for 2-3 years past the printed ‘best by’ date when kept in a cool, dark pantry or refrigerator. Once opened, tomato paste tubes should be refrigerated and used within 1 month. Signs of spoiled tomato paste include mold, unpleasant odors, changes in color or texture. Discard any tomato paste that shows these signs of deterioration. Following proper storage methods and watching for spoilage indicators will help maximize the shelf life.

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