If Your Soy Sauce Doesn't Have This Ingredient, It Should Probably Go In The Fridge

Soy sauce drops in a bowl
Soy sauce drops in a bowl - New Africa/Shutterstock

Kung pao chicken, spicy crab salad sushi, and some of your favorite marinades would not be the same without soy sauce. This seemingly unassuming ingredient packs an umami of flavor that's mission critical in a number of dishes. However, once you crack open a bottle of this brown, savory liquid, you may be wondering: Do you have to refrigerate soy sauce? Well, the answer lies in its composition and whether or not it contains sodium benzoate.

Soy sauce is generally made with soybeans, salt, water, and Aspergillus mold, which is both a salt-tolerant yeast and a lactic acid bacteria. It is integral to the soy sauce-making process. So, what is sodium benzoate and why is it added? Sodium benzoate is added as a preservative and prohibits the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. It is also used is some salad dressings and jams. If your bottle of soy sauce has sodium benzoate, it doesn't need to go into the refrigerator. But if it doesn't have sodium benzoate, it must be refrigerator-bound.

Read more: What Happens If You Accidentally Eat Mold?

The Argument For Keeping Soy Sauce In The Fridge

Soy sauce on a spoon
Soy sauce on a spoon - Karpenkov Denis/Shutterstock

Sodium benzoate works well in ensuring foods that are acidic don't spoil, hence why it is added to soy sauce. Fun fact: It is the first preservative the FDA approved for use in foods. However, it is also used in baby wipes, toothpaste, and has some industrial uses. While the amount that is added to foods for preservation is not considered harmful, if you tend to shun added chemicals in your food, you should purchase soy sauce that doesn't contain sodium benzoate and plan on storing it in your fridge.

Do you have to store fermented foods (even with preservatives) in the refrigerator? You don't have to, but they will last longer if you do. Opened soy sauce stored in the fridge can keep for up to two years. At room temperature, it will probably be safe for about six months. How can you tell if your soy sauce has gone bad? Use your senses. If it smells bad or looks like mold is growing in it, it's time to toss it and get a new bottle.

Read the original article on Tasting Table