Vinegar is a solution of acetic acid made by fermenting fruit and yeast acetobacter that converts the alcoholic part into acid.
The most common vinegar types Americans preferably use are distilled white vinegar, red wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and rice vinegar.
Most of them probably wonder does vinegar go bad and how long does vinegar last. Let’s find out.
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Does Vinegar Go Bad?
Vinegar can’t get spoiled, and its shelf life can be unlimited when you store it properly. Thanks to its acidic nature, this product is capable of self-preservation, and there is no need to refrigerate it. However, you will notice that its taste lasts longer when storing both open and unopened bottles of all vinegar kinds in the fridge.
In fact, white distilled vinegar is the only type that entirely remains unchanged over time. The other varieties are likely to experience slight changes in appearance like sediments and ‘mother of vinegar,’ slimy discs formed at the bottom. Luckily, they won’t change this kitchen product’s taste and quality so that you can use it without any worry.
How Long Does Vinegar Last?
Thanks to its high acidic properties degree, you can use vinegar to preserve food. Its shelf life depends on the type you use and the storage method. Even though some of them will change their properties sooner than others, all of them will last for a long.
Vinegar shelf life
For best quality
|Safe and usable||For best quality||
Safe and usable
|5 years||indefinitely||5 years||indefinitely|
|Balsamic||2 to 3 years||indefinitely||2 to 3 years||
|2 years||indefinitely||2 years||indefinitely|
|Rice||2 years||indefinitely||2 years||
Regardless of several different types available on the market, apple cider vinegar is the most popular one Americans use in their kitchens.
Even though it still lasts unchanged for years, this fruit vinegar will eventually lose its typical smell and taste. Several factors will speed up this process, including:
- Frequency of bottle opening
- Exposure to direct sunlight
- High moisture level
Fortunately, you won’t notice significant differences in fresh and old vinegar taste, particularly if you store it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
5 Tips to Tell If Vinegar Has Gone Bad
You can sometimes notice that vinegar you keep in your pantry for long shows taste and overall appearance changes. Even though they are usually rare and harmless, you should pay attention to them.
If you notice something floating inside the bottle or any sediment occurs in the bottle bottom, you can be sure that the vinegar you use has lost its top quality.
However, it is not a reason to eliminate this product because you can remove these particles by filtering or simply keeping using vinegar that way.
Mother of vinegar is a mucous gelatinous mass you can often see in most fruit vinegar types. Although this change is unattractive and a bit weird, it is entirely harmless, and you can quickly remove it by filtering through a coffee filter.
You can find white, pale yellow, red, and black vinegar types on the market. The kind you want to use in your kitchen depends only on your taste and preferences.
Any changes in a typical product’s color indicate that it has stayed too long in the pantry or the storing conditions are not adequate. In both cases, such vinegar is no longer of the best quality, and you should decide if you still want to use it or not.
The rotten smell is a sure sign of mold growth over the vinegar surface. It occurs pretty rarely because of the acidic environment, but it can happen sometimes. That is also a rare case when you can’t do anything with this product, and it is better to throw it away.
Be aware that the vinegar’s acidity will weaken over time, especially when exposed to high humidity levels. The acetic acid will slowly decompose in such conditions, and the acidity level will reduce after a while. Although this change is relatively harmless, it always leads to taste and quality change.
Rice vinegar is an exception when it comes to the taste. You will know that this product has changed its quality when noticing that its color turns yellowish.
Many people can’t imagine making salad without balsamic vinegar. Since it is desirable not to use this product for more than two years, writing down the opening date is advisable. After that period, it is better to replace the opened bottle with a new one to ensure the best taste.
Believe it or not, you can spot rust appearing on the bottle cap. It is a result of contact between the lid material and the acid from vinegar. Avoid using such a product and replace it with a new bottle.
4 Tips to Store Vinegar
Vinegar is a very reliable product you need to store the way to avoid losing its acidity and taste. Even though it requires keeping in a dark and cold place, it is unnecessary to put the bottle in the fridge.
Always try to reduce the oxygen penetration into a bottle by tightening the cap. That way, you will minimize unwanted fermentation processes. Another thing is to prevent the moisture from decreasing the vinegar’s acidity and affecting its shelf-life.
Keep in mind that vinegar can naturally lose its stability over time, which leads to acetic acid decomposition. It can be prevented by pasteurization and its heating at 155 F (68 C).
You can store all vinegar types in the pantry, open or unopened. Since this product is acid, it is better to keep it in a glass bottle or quality plastic packaging. Never store vinegar in a metal container.
You can store vinegar in the refrigerator in the same way as in the pantry. Make sure the bottle is tightly closed.
Never freeze vinegar in glass packaging. A better solution is to pour it into an airtight plastic container. Always place a transparent foil or adhesive tape over the opening before putting the lid to prevent leaking.
Another option is to freeze vinegar in an ice cube tray. If you want to use frozen vinegar for cooking, you don’t need to defrost it beforehand.
When you need this product for dips or spices, it will be enough to let the container sit in the fridge overnight before use. Another option is to place it in a bowl of hot water to speed up the thawing process.
Vinegar with the mother
Even though most vinegar types are filtered and pasteurized, you can find a few types sold with mother. For instance, apple cider vinegar is often sold with this bacterial colony, and people use it as a beneficial probiotic.
It is crucial to reduce vinegar’s exposure to oxygen because it continues to ferment while the bacteria colony keeps growing once you open the bottle.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Vinegar
Vinegar belongs to foods that are not expensive, rarely spoil, and have an unlimited shelf life. However, any change in taste, appearance, and quality indicates that it is better not to use this product even though it is actually not harmful to consume.
It is better to throw the bottle away and buy a new one if the vinegar you store for a while has been exposed to heat, air, and moisture. You should do the same when noticing the rusted bottle cap. Another option is to find a way to remove rust from metal before using it again.
Can You Freeze Vinegar?
Vinegar has an unlimited shelf life, and there is no need to freeze it. Unfortunately, its packaging is often made of plastic, so freezing is an excellent option to buy one big bottle instead of several smaller and reduce waste.
Vinegar is a liquid with a freezing point of around 28 F (-2 C), but it can vary depending on the type you use. Remember that freezing may decrease the vinegar acidity due to the acetic acid decomposition.
In most cases, you can use thawed vinegar when cooking and in salad dressings, but it is better to avoid using it for pickling.
The best option is to freeze this product in an airtight plastic container. Then, put the packaging in the freezer in a stable position to prevent spillage.
If you plan to freeze a small amount of remaining vinegar, it is better to use an ice cube tray. Pour it into the tray, cover it with transparent foil, and place it in the freezer.
After standing there for 6 to 12 hours, all the cubes will be entirely frozen. It is time to take them out and put them in a freezer bag or sealed container before returning them to the freezer.
Vinegar will rarely go bad or expire. However, you can notice that your product shows signs of quality change, turbidity, or sediment occurrence. In most cases, you can quickly solve the problem by filtration if you find it necessary.