Spicy Science Experiment
April 29, 2009 2:12 PM   Subscribe

CanIEatItFilter: How long will this spicy stir fry sauce keep?

I have a stir fry type sauce made from sugar syrup, fish sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and hot pepper flakes. It has been sitting in a cup in my fridge for a couple of weeks. Can I still eat it? How long does something like this last? Assume that it will be brought to a boil when cooked and has no obvious mold/sludginess.
posted by vilthuril to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you cover it? It should be fine either way but if it was uncovered it might have changed the taste and probably reduced a bit, leaving it a bit thicker.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:19 PM on April 29, 2009

I've made sauces like that that have been edible for months. It seems like between the high sugar and the acidity, not much is gonna have a chance to grow in there. You can eat it.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:19 PM on April 29, 2009

I'd still eat it (I've kept similar things around for a while -- minus the fish sauce -- and eaten them with no ill effects and I have a sensitive digestive system). I'm not expert on these things, but I don't really see anything that would have gone bad in this mixture (assuming, of course, the cup had a lid or some such on it). I think you'll be fine.
posted by darksong at 2:21 PM on April 29, 2009

fish sauce is aged forever, I think it's like vinegar insofar as it's something that will keep quite a while. I don't think that would be the problem with the equation.
posted by slateyness at 2:26 PM on April 29, 2009

No lid on the cup, unfortunately. I guess I was worried that the sugar would attract bacteria?
posted by vilthuril at 2:27 PM on April 29, 2009

high acidity, low osmotic potential, presence of capsaicin as an antiseptic. should keep for months, if covered.
posted by Jon_Evil at 2:29 PM on April 29, 2009

Well, data point: I wouldn't eat it. I have about a 10-day tolerance level on sauces.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 2:33 PM on April 29, 2009

Regarding the sugar attracting bacteria, I would actually think that the sugar would retard spoiling the same way it does in fruit preserves (or, what Jon_Evil said). Go ahead and eat it.
posted by peacheater at 2:40 PM on April 29, 2009

It sounds like it would keep for many weeks, like a vinegar based salad dressing would.
posted by slateyness at 2:46 PM on April 29, 2009

+1 eat it
posted by chrisamiller at 2:48 PM on April 29, 2009

It may not kill you, but after a few weeks uncovered in the refrigerator it's going to have picked up some weird flavors.
posted by sanko at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2009

Why don't you bring it to a boil and use it as a glaze for something? Might be a good way to make sure that you're killing all the baddies.
posted by rossination at 2:56 PM on April 29, 2009

You can eat it but it probably won't taste good. I have a feeling the lime won't taste like lime anymore and your pepper flakes will be soggy.

Why don't you just remake it? The ingredients are dirt cheap.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:06 PM on April 29, 2009

Proportions matter. What is it mostly made of?

Fish sauce by itself keeps by virtue of its saltiness. In the mixed sauce, the salt's probably too dilute to help, so ignore it. I do not believe capsaicin is an antiseptic, either. The sugar's a better bet: It may dehydrate anything that falls into it. Problem is that it may not be concentrated enough, either because of water from other ingredients or because it absorbs water straight out of the air. This may also make it taste like fridge, bleah. It's the acidity, if anything, that's going to save this sauce: If it's acidic enough to have a tangy flavor, I would eat it (unless it also tasted like fridge). I've kept quasi-ponzu sauce (caramelized sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, juice and zest of grapefruit, orange, and lime) for weeks and not had a problem.
posted by eritain at 3:27 PM on April 29, 2009

Capsaicin does look to have anti-microbial properties.

I'd go ahead and taste the sauce, and if it's picked up any off-flavors from being uncovered (don't do that anymore!), toss it. Otherwise, I'd eat it.
posted by rtha at 4:06 PM on April 29, 2009

Before something goes bad, it loses flavor. I'd smell it, then taste it, and if it's dull, why bother? Toss. I doubt it will make you sick, though.
posted by zinfandel at 8:55 PM on April 29, 2009

Please let us know whether you decided to eat it, and, if so, what the results were!
posted by Greg Nog at 8:42 AM on April 30, 2009

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