Rice vinegar is used with a host of recipes – sushi, sauces, marinades, salad dressings… the list is endless. Perhaps you have this one bottle that has served you for a while now and you’re probably starting to question its quality. You’re, therefore, looking to know, “Does rice vinegar go bad, and if so, how long does it take for that to happen?” Stay tuned to find out.
Does Rice Vinegar Go Bad?
Not quite. However, after years of storage, the quality of rice vinegar may start to deteriorate, and you may notice a change in flavor.
As with other types of vinegar, the product doesn’t have a fixed shelf life. Of course, you will see a best-by date printed on the label, but the truth is, that date only shows you how long the product is estimated to stay fresh for. You will still be able to use it for up to a couple years after the marked date. But the taste may be slightly different from that of a new bottle.
One of the reasons why rice vinegar takes a long time before it becomes unusable is that it is acidic. While the PH level of vinegar varies from one vinegar type to the other, the mere fact that the condiment is acidic inhibits the growth of bacteria, which helps keep the product fresh for an extended period.
How Long Does Rice Vinegar Last?
As we have stated, rice vinegar technically doesn’t spoil. But still, it doesn’t last forever. The fact is, the product may lose its quality over time.
But how long it takes for that to eventually happen will depend on how the vinegar is stored. When storage conditions are right, rice vinegar can stay good for more than five years.
It has a slightly shorter lifespan compared to other varieties, though. Why? Rice vinegar has a higher PH value than most vinegar varieties. But it will still retain its quality for about two to three years beyond its best-by date.
If you want the bottle to serve you a little bit longer, put it in the refrigerator. Here, it can last for up to twelve years.
It is important to note that rice vinegar that has been in storage for way too long may produce peroxides and these can be toxic. For that reason, it is recommended that rice vinegar be used before the date printed on the bottle.
The following table gives a summary of the estimated shelf life of rice vinegar both at room temperature and in the refrigerator.
|Rice vinegar||5 to 8 years||10 to 12 years|
4 Tips to Tell if Rice Vinegar Has Gone Bad
It is highly unlikely that rice vinegar will go bad before you have used it all. But if you have had that bottle sitting in the pantry for some time and are worried that the product may not be good for consumption, inspect it for the following:
The color of rice vinegar may vary from brand to brand, so the first thing you need to do when you buy the bottle is to take note of the liquid’s color. If you can’t remember how the product looked when it was new, it will be very difficult to notice when the color is off.
A change in color would be the first sign that something is wrong. And for the most part, it could also mean that some of the product’s flavor and potency is gone.
2. Smells Off
Rice vinegar has a pleasant scent. If it starts to smell rotten, chances are it is actually rotten, so throw it away.
3. Tastes Different
This can be a little difficult to figure out because rice vinegar while still at its best quality has a tart, sour taste. However, if the taste is nothing like it used to be or has become incredibly bitter after storage, don’t use that vinegar.
4. Outdated Best-by Date
Rice vinegar can last up to three years (sometimes even longer depending on the brand) past the estimated best-by date. But if the bottle has lived in the pantry for more than a decade beyond the printed date, you may want to check if it is still good before you can use it with your recipes.
3 Tips to Store Rice Vinegar
Rice vinegar sure does have an impressively long shelf life, but let’s say this right here, how you store the product will have a huge impact on its lifespan. The good news? You can apply the following storage tips to make sure your vinegar stays in the best shape indefinitely.
1. Make Sure the Storage Container is Right to Begin With
Rice vinegar, being an acidic product, will most likely come in a glass bottle. If yours doesn’t, ensure you have transferred it in one before putting it away. Do not let the vinegar stay in an iron, copper, or brass container, as these may cause corrosion between the metal and the liquid and potentially damage the product.
2. Pick a Cool, Dark Place
Rice vinegar should be stored in a cool place away from sunlight and heat sources. The pantry or the refrigerator is the most recommended place, but your vinegar will be fine anywhere as long it is not exposed to direct light from the sun and the area’s temperatures don’t spike to insane levels.
3. Keep Vinegar Tightly Sealed
Whenever you are done using your rice vinegar, make sure to replace the lid and check to see it is tightly sealed. It will keep air and moisture from sneaking into the bottle while blocking smells and flavors from any nearby food items.
While the above tips will enable your rice vinegar to have a longer shelf life, it is vital that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendation.
Vinegar is generally shelf-stable and you can store it in the pantry without worrying about it getting spoiled. But some brands will advise that their product be stored in the refrigerator after the seal is broken. Check to see what your bottle says.
If you are making your vinegar at home, watch this video for insights on how to store it correctly. While the pointers shared in the video are not inclined specifically to rice vinegar, they can come in handy when you have homemade rice vinegar that you would like to preserve.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Rice Vinegar
Using rice vinegar past the recommended date will not harm you. Sure, the potency, freshness, and quality of the product might be compromised, but in most cases, rice vinegar will not spoil to an extent of making you sick.
The only time expired rice vinegar may harm you is if it has been stored to a point of producing peroxides. While such instances are extremely rare, these toxins can actually kill you if consumed in huge amounts. They directly injure the digestive system, causing gastritis. You may experience vomiting, and stomach pain, and in severe cases, they may cause ulcers or even death.
If your rice vinegar has been resting in the pantry way past its best-by date and you are having second thoughts about its integrity, trust your instincts. Toss out that bottle and get a new one.
Can You Freeze Rice Vinegar?
Yes, you can, but you really don’t need to. Rice vinegar will keep fresh for a long, long time and will do that by itself even without the freezer.
The thing with freezing rice vinegar is that, when you thaw the liquid, the process will water down the flavor and the resulting product will not taste as fresh and flavorful as a bottle sitting in the pantry or the refrigerator. The acidity of the bottle will also be compromised.
If you must store your rice vinegar in the freezer, make sure to first transfer it into a freezer-safe bottle or container. Just pour the liquid into a rigid plastic container, leaving a little bit of space between the liquid and the opening of the container. The extra space will allow the vinegar to expand freely when it freezes.
When the liquid is properly settled in a freezer-safe container, cover with a clean cling film to prevent leaks, then replace the lid, keeping it as tight as possible. To make sure your vinegar retains its original acidity, keep it at a constant temperature of 28° F.
If you are freezing leftover rice vinegar, pour the vinegar into an ice cube tray, freeze it for about six hours then pop the little blocks into a freezer bag for storage.
Tip: Do not store vinegar in a glass bottle because as soon as the product freezes, the bottle will just shatter.
Like other vinegar varieties, it is highly unlikely that rice vinegar will go bad to an extent of becoming unsafe for human consumption. But if the vinegar’s color has changed noticeably or the smell is not as fresh as it used to be, it’s best to get rid of the liquid.