Does Vinegar Go Bad?


Does Vinegar Go Bad

If you love salads, you surely always have a bottle of vinegar in your kitchen. Even if you don’t use it every day, a bottle of vinegar can still be found in your pantry. So, if you ever have the desire for a healthy side dish, you’ll need a bit of vinegar to add in the meal for more flavor. 

Many people also use vinegar for cleaning because it’s a fantastic limescale remover. Even the hardest limescale stains can be removed with vinegar. What’s more, vinegar is one of the most popular cleaning products because it’s a more natural option compared to other limescale removers. 

Because vinegar is so common in every household and is used for more than one purpose, most people have more than one bottle in their house. For example, you have one bottle of vinegar for making salads, another for cleaning, and a third you bought because it was on sale or you just forgot you have it. 

It’s quite common to discover an already opened bottle of vinegar while doing spring cleaning or searching for something else you need. This is usually the point where you ask yourself, can vinegar go bad?

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll cover all the frequently asked questions like: Does vinegar go bad? How long does vinegar last? How to tell if vinegar has gone bad? How to store vinegar. 

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Does Vinegar Go Bad

Vinegar can’t go bad. 

  • According to The Vinegar Institute, vinegar has an indefinite shelf life even though it has an expiration date. Even after the expiration date has passed, the vinegar is still safe for use weather for cleaning or cooking. 
  • The acidic nature of vinegar makes it self-preserving for a long time. What’s more, vinegar doesn’t have to be refrigerated, so you can keep it in your pantry or cupboard without worrying that it’ll go bad. 

So, why does vinegar have an expiration date stamped on the label?

  • While many would say that vinegar manufacturers give an expiration just to sell more vinegar, we don’t quite agree with that. In fact, manufacturers rarely stamp expiration dates because it’s not easy to tell when exactly food will expire. Most people mix up the expiration date with sell-by or use-by date. 
  • Another interesting fact about the expiration date is that it’s not labeled because of the vinegar, but the bottle. This is usually the case when you buy vinegar in a plastic container. Plastic bottles can, after some time, release chemicals into the vinegar, making it unsafe for consumption. 

How Long Does Vinegar Last

So, we’ve come to the conclusion that vinegar lasts indefinitely, but that doesn’t mean you should keep it in your pantry for 10 yeas. At some point, it’ll be time to throw the bottle away.

Although vinegar has an indefinite shelf life. That doesn’t mean it won’t become somewhat useless over time. Vinger won’t go bad for a long time only if you store it properly. If you don’t store your vinegar properly, it can lose some of its “former luster.”

So, what happens to vinegar if you don’t store it properly? Well, it can lose some of its taste and smell. This is especially true for fruit vinegar. Fruit vinegar has lots of other ingredients besides the acid. Most importantly, there are quite a few chemicals that add to its taste. Unfortunately, these chemicals can evaporate over time, negatively impacting the vinegar’s flavor.

There are quite a few factors that can impact the freshness of the vinegar: how often do you open the bottle, did you leave it in the direct sunlight and many others. Even the quality of the vinegar can play a role in how fast it will lose on its taste. Still, with all that said, there are very few differences between “stale” and fresh vinegar.

You might notice many bottles of vinegar have a sell-by-date printed on them. There are two main reasons why brands do this. The first reason why there is a sell-by-date on a bottle is that some types of vinegar are more volatile than others. Over time you might even notice a change in taste and color.

The other reason why there’s a sell-by-date on a bottle of vinegar is that people are more likely to buy a food item that has an expiration date on it. So, a vinegar bottle with no date printed on it is less trustworthy than one that has a date on it.


How To Tell If Vinegar Has Gone Bad?

Like we mentioned before, vinegar has an indefinite shelf life if you store it properly. Its acidity will practically kill any pathogens that find their way inside the bottle.

Of course, some bacteria can live in vinegar, they’re not harmful to your health. These bacteria actually produce vinegar acid and ethanol, and when you ingest it, it will just pass through you. 

Even if you notice any sediment at the bottom of the bottle or slime disks forming on the surface, the vinegar is still safe to use. This sediment is actually the mother of vinegar or the bacteria that use sugar and alcohol as food and make vinegar as a byproduct.

The only thing you should be concerned with is the quality of the liquid. Some types of vinegar (like white vinegar) retain their quality much better than others. This is why you must check the quality of the vinegar if you’re making a dish that heavily relies on it.

The best way to check if vinegar is still “fresh” is to give it a quick whiff and a taste. If everything tastes and smells like it should, you’re good. Otherwise, you should go pick up a fresh bottle.


How To Store Vinegar

Even trough vinegar has an indefinite shelf life, long exposure to direct sunlight and air can affect its quality over time. These changes are usually not harmful or dangerous, but it’s important to be aware of them.

Proper storing will help to retain the quality of vinegar for a long time. 

Here are a few tips and tricks on properly storing vinegar to preserve its quality for an extended period.

Keep Vinegar Away From Direct Sunlight

  • Vinegar is fermented by bacteria, and bacteria are highly sensitive to ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light can prevent bacteria reproduction and badly affect their metabolism. 
  • So, the traditional saying to keep the vinegar away from direct sunlight refers to this effect. Since the ultraviolet light is a primary issue, keeping your vinegar away from sunlight is the best strategy to maintain its quality.

Store Vinegar In A Cool And Dark Place

  • The cupboard in your kitchen is the perfect spot to store your opened bottle of vinegar, while an unopened container can be stored in the pantry.
  • It’s also important to keep your vinegar away from any heat source. The best place to store any type of food or drink is a place with a constant temperature.
  • We also recommend storing your vinegar away from the dishwasher or stove, where it may become constantly heated and cooled down again.

Keep The Vinegar In Its Original Container

  • Vinegar should be stored in stainless metal, glass, food-safe plastic, or wood. Metals like copper, iron, brass, or aluminum are not a good option. The acetic acid in the vinegar will react with these metals and form salts called acetates. These salts can be harmful and can drastically affect vinegar quality.

Always Seal Up The Container After Use

  • When in contact with air, vinegar loses some of its quality, so it’s important to limit air exposure. We recommend you keep vinegar in a tightly closed container to maintain its quality for a long time.

Does Vinegar Go Bad – Conclusion

Vinegar does not go bad! This is because it’s acidity does a pretty good job of preserving it. 

With all that said, that doesn’t mean that vinegar can’t lose its taste. This is especially true for fruit vinegar. This is why most vinegar bottles have a sell-by-date printed on them. Of course, another reason why there’s a date on a bottle of vinegar is that you’re more likely to buy a food item that has an expiration date printed on it.

If you want to keep your vinegar fresh, you should keep it away from sunlight and in its original container. You should also make sure the bottle is properly sealed because acid and other ingredients might evaporate and impact the taste of the vinegar.

If you’re making a meal that heavily relies on the vinegar, we recommend you give it a quick smell and taste test to make sure it’s still good.

We hope you learned something new today. And if you did, it would be awesome if you shared this article around so others can learn something new too. We also can’t wait to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

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