Applesauce must be refrigerated after opening and consumed within seven to 10 days. Tree Top and Mott's, along with most other applesauce manufacturers, print expiration dates on their applesauce containers. Eating applesauce that has expired is not recommended.
While commercial applesauce manufacturers pasteurize their product in order to reduce the chance of bacterial growth or other pathogenic activity, compounds in apples are subject to oxidation. When oxygen is present, polyphenol oxidase enzymes within the apple tissue reacts with phenolic compounds to produce brown-colored secondary products.
Sealed containers limit the amount of oxygen present that can lead to browning and other oxidation effects, but it cannot eliminate it entirely. Heating during the pasteurization process also slows the enzymatic activity. Still, the chemical reactions inevitably continue, and the quality of the product is changed in the process. Mott's indicates that its single serving size container will be good, unopened, for six to 12 months. Tree Top varies the expiration dates printed on its containers depending on the size of the container.