Storing pasta sauce semi-long term. (+ other pasta tips?)

I’m a pasta lover, and when I was working shift work (and preparing 95% of my own meals) I would be eating pasta around 10 times a week.

It was either re-heating some of my mum’s bolognaise sauce that we had the night before, whipping up my own spicy tomato sauce, or using a store bought pesto.

Ideally I’d like to make up a huge batch of my tomato sauce as well as my own pesto, and then just be able to re-heat and serve with fresh pasta. My only concern is how long I could keep these refridgerated for while still maintaining their quality.

FTR, the only things in my tomato sauce are tomato puree, basil, oregano, mixed spice, pepper, garlic, chilli paste and a dash of brown sugar. When i want to shake things up slightly i’ll fry and chop up a chorizo and add it to the mix, but that would always be done fresh.

So how long could i expect to store a sauce like this and still maintain its quality?

I’m also opening this up to any other pasta and pasta sauce tips and tricks.

I never add onion or olives to my sauces because I just don’t like them, I know that limits my options but if you have any other sauce suggestions I’d like to hear them.

So what do the pasta lovers say?

Refrigerator - a few days to a week is the limit. But your freezer is your friend. If packaged in portion-sized servings and wrapped securely, there’s no reason that most pasta sauces won’t last for months in the freezer.

Like Athena says, the freezer is your friend. I routinely do enormous batches of spag bol sauce, which I then divvy up into two-portion containers and freeze. I’ve cracked open containers of sauce that had been sitting in the freezer for up to 12 months without noticing any effect on the taste/texture/edibleness.

I do the same with chicken stock and chili, too. It’s nice to have something on hand for those I-don’t-wanna-cook nights.

Get a Seal-A-Meal system or something like it, bag up two-serving portions, and freeze that stuff.

Ok i have no issues with freezing, but how quickly could i get it from frozen to the “ready to eat” stage?
Freezing has also kind of turned me off because I’ve kinda thought that things haven’t had as much flavour once I’ve defrosted them.

Seal-A-Meal is a bit of a hassle for liquids. You have to freeze them before you can seal them, unless you have a $2000 chamber system like the one I’ve been lusting over.

What I do for liquids is buy a bunch of cheap plastic containers from the local food service retailer. They come in 8-oz, 16-oz, and 32-oz sizes, and they all have the same lids, and are pretty cheap - a stack of like 50 of them are about $5 if I remember right. I use those for freezing anything liquid, like pasta sauces and chicken stock.

I use good “ziploc” style freezer bags, which helps reduce freezer burn. Pour in a cup or two, zip it nearly closed, squeeze as much air out as possible, and zip the last bit closed. Lay the bags flat in the freezer (stacked on top of each other, if needed) until frozen, and then you can store them upright like books, if you like. Frozen in small quantities and shaped in relatively thin sheets like that, they should defrost in a couple minutes or less when heated.

No you don’t. I’ve got a freezer full of pasta sauce, soup and chili that were all bagged and sealed while liquid. Cheapo system, too. All it requires is a little dexterity. :smiley:

I’ve never noticed any flavor differences after defrosting. Some things - dairy items, potatoes - will change consistency, but tomato based sauces freeze very well.

Frozen to ready to eat = a few minutes in the microwave.

Really? How do you do it? Maybe I need a new sealer, mine sucks all the liquid out if I try to seal a non-frozen liquid thing.

If you are using a vacuum-sealer, I can see your problem. But a plain old sealed is just like putting the food into a sturdier zip-lock bag. No sucking of air involved. You just fill the bag, make sure the edges are clean, fold over the top and seal.

Say i had plenty of freezer space and all the tupperware in the world… would you still suggest the zip-lock bag idea? Although i must say, having lots of very thin zip-lock bags of pasta sauce is an amazing idea!

Bags store flatter. Once they freeze, you can arrange them to fit. Stack a bunch in the door, that sort of thing. They microwave quicker as well.

I have at least a dozen extra-strength big Baggies in the freezer full of soups, sauces, and even gravy. They defrost quickly in a covered pot on the stove or in the microwave…really, when you’re tired and hungry and the choice is a sandwich or a hot meal, they come in really handy.

What i was getting at was, do zip lock bags add any “protection” that my best tupperware wont or vice-versa?

Nuke 'em. I was the last kid on the block to get a microwave oven. It’s great for thawing/heating frozen or refrigerated food–with very little change in taste or texture.

Pasta can be very good without a heavy sauce. Simplest: While pasta is cooking, heat garlic & red pepper flakes in olive oil; don’t burn the garlic! Toss cooked pasta in the pan with flavored oil, then serve. (If you’ve made more than needed, divide the serving & refrigerate the excess; it will nuke beautifully.) Add cheese, if you like. Consider adding other ingredients to the heated oil–canned or fresh tomatoes, scallions, whatever. Check out a la putanesca recipes for quick pasta ideas…

If I’m feeling virtuous, whole wheat pasta with a bunch of vegetables will work. On other days–add butter to the oil. Sausage? Left over meat? Get creative!

Protection-wise, it’s pretty much all the same, IME. The plastic bags are easier to store, because they’re not as bulky as Tupperware, and since the sauce is frozen in a thinner sheet, it’ll also defrost faster when you pull it out (more surface area = quicker thawing).

I tend to reheat mine out by plonking them in a bowl of hot water to defrost and then pouring into a small saucepan to warm through, but I’m just not a fan of microwaves as a whole. If you really want to speed up the process and can spare a couple of minutes in your getting-ready-for-work routine, take the sauce out of the freezer and put it in the fridge in the morning before you head out the door… should be thawed out by the time you get home.

you can squeeze the air just about completely out of the zip lock bag (which is laying flat while you hold the opening end firmly with one hand and press flat gently to get the air out - then zip shut.) The tupperware is OK, you have to leave at least a half inch because of expansion, and there may be frost crystals on the surface when you open up the container. As long as you use it up in a reasonable amount of time, it should be OK in containers, but you can get more air out using the zip lock bags. (listen to me, quite the expert here! too much time on my hands)…one thing, no matter what, be sure to label things! I’ve defrosted things that were total mysteries, hoping for spaghetti sauce, getting chili instead!

Yup, I keep a pen in an organizer on the fridge door and write on the bag the month/year I froze the item, what it is, and the quantity. So you’d pour a cup of spaghetti sauce in the bag, and write on it “1/10, spaghetti sauce, 1 c.” or whatever. One or even two cups freezes pretty thinly if you’re using a quart-sized freezer bag. Then you can kind of flip through your frozen packets and see which is spaghetti sauce versus leftover plain tomato sauce from that time you bought the gigantic can on sale, or whatever.

For plastic containers, I believe they make “freezer tape” that will stick to containers, wrapped packages of meat, whatever. Label the side of the container similarly, using the tape and a pen.

Tupperware etc. are great for liquids though it’s hard to completely eliminate the air space, so you’re going to get a minor amount of freezer burn. The flat bags are far less convenient to actually freeze, however they do almost completely eliminate that problem.

Definitely use the thicker “freezer” bags - ones designed just for storage are thinner plastic and I worry about them tearing.

One thing with freezing stuff in bags: you’ll have to lay them on something flat for the initial freezing. A plate, or cookie sheet, or whatever. I have done this with a number of recipes. And of course when you’re ready to use them and want to set them out to thaw, best put 'em on a plate or something in case the bag leaks.