It's no secret that sriracha can make almost anything food better, from scrambled eggs and fried rice to Bloody Marys and noodles. (Sriracha as I know and love—the Huy Fong Foods brand, green-lidded squirt bottle with a rooster on the side— in its original form is a Thai sauce from Si Racha, traditionally used for seafood.) I have it around always, and I tend to store it in the fridge. So when someone told me I don't need to worry about keeping it unrefrigerated, I had to learn more. Here's what I found out.
What Experts Say About How To Store Sriracha
You shouldn't worry about bottles of sriracha sitting at room temperature on restaurant tables or at home, for who knows how long. That's because sriracha doesn't' have to be refrigerated, even after the bottles have been opened.
"No, they do not have to be refrigerated," explain the folks at Huy Fong Foods Inc., the company that manufactures sriracha in Irwindale, CA. The best way to store bottles of Sriracha, according to the manufacturer? "Just make sure they are stored in a cool, dry place." You don't need to keep it in the fridge.
The reason you don't have to refrigerate sriracha is that its ingredients are resistant to bacterial growth, which is what causes food to spoil and be unsafe to eat: chili peppers and vinegar.
Chili peppers have been studied for their antimicrobial properties, meaning that they can inhibit the growth of nasty microorganisms. Distilled vinegar, another main ingredient in sriracha, also helps prevent the growth of food-borne bacteria.
Refrigerated Sriracha Tastes and Looks Better
Even if you don't have to worry about getting sick from the sriracha that's been sitting out at room temperature, that doesn't mean it will taste—or look—exactly the same as it when you first opened the bottle.
Though sriracha won't spoil, the flavor will change and since chili peppers change color over time as they are exposed to air, older sriracha sometimes looks brown. Every bottle comes with a best-before date, "lasered on towards the neck of the bottle. You can feel it with your fingers," says a rep from Huy Fong Foods.
If you want to make sure your Sriracha stays as vibrant red and as delicious as possible, you can keep it in the fridge. But it won't keep your sriracha from going bad. The vinegar and chilis are already doing that for you.
A version of this article originally appeared on MyRecipes.com.