Does Vinegar Go Bad? Understanding How Long Different Types of Vinegar Last

Does Vinegar Go Bad

Vinegar brings an acidic kick to the kitchen. It instantaneously brings forth a tsunami of flavors in the mouth with its sour taste and pungent aroma. No wonder people consider it to be their go-to option for salad dressings, pickling, sauces, pie doughs, and even desserts.

Due to its multitude of uses, you’ll often find yourself with several vinegar bottles in your house. That brings us to our question- does vinegar go bad? Well, it does, but we’ll have to deep dive to get more details.

But the following article will provide you with all the relevant information about vinegar and its preferred storage methods. We are sure that it will help you use that acidic bottle of flavors for a long time.


How to Tell if Vinegar has Gone Bad? (Signs of Going Bad)

How to Tell if Vinegar has Gone Bad

The catch here is that if you are following food safety and proper hygiene, there is hardly any way left in which the vinegar will spoil or rot. However, it is always some unintentional lapse that causes spoilage. Let’s check them out!

Though vinegar’s shelf life is nearly indefinite, you can say white vinegar is almost immortal and hardly goes bad. The reason behind this fact is the acidic nature of white vinegar.

Thus, you don’t have to refrigerate it; white vinegar is a self-preserving product. Coming to the properties of white distilled vinegar will remain unchanged over a considerable period. From here, you can conclude that the variety of white vinegar is totally safe to use for all purposes, even beyond its mentioned use-by-date.

In the case of other varieties of vinegar, you may notice a few changes like the growth of haze, altered color, unusual flavor, sediment, or sometimes cloudiness.

Growth of Haze and Sediment

If you observe any sediments or stuff floating on your vinegar, understand that its quality is not the best anymore. Although, if you filter the cloudy vinegar, you can easily remove sediments from it and use it further.


Variation in Taste

The acidity of the vinegar deteriorates if it absorbs moisture from the air. Because of the decline in its acidic properties, it loses its flavor as well. Nevertheless, you can use it, but the taste may go off if you add it to your recipe.


Anomaly in Color

The vinegar is available in various colors, depending on its type. Pale yellow, black, white, and red, to name a few. As in taste, if you observe any anomaly in color, it may have lost its quality. It would be better if you didn’t use it further.


How To Store Vinegar to Extend Its Shelf Life?

It is a fact if you carefully store the food, it will sustain for a longer period. Also, it maintains the overall quality of the food, such as vinegar. The following are some of the easy and doable storage tips to store vinegar to extend its shelf life.

  • Once you open any variety of vinegar, put the cap tightly immediately after using it.
  • Once opened, do not change the container of the vinegar; store it in its original bottle only.
  • Next, always store unopened bottles away from direct sunlight.
  • Keep the vinegar bottle in a cool and dark place with no sunlight, like in your kitchen cabinet.


Shelf Life of Vinegar

Shelf Life of Vinegar

As I said above, vinegar hardly expires. It does have a use-by-date but not an expiration date. This implies that it is safe to use even after the best-before date has gone.

Again, vinegar has acidic properties, so you can keep it for a long time. However, if it is not properly stored, the quality will definitely deteriorate. If you want to know, how? The vinegar comprises acetic acid that can be contaminated by the water absorbed from the atmosphere. This may drastically change its flavor.

The shelf life of various kinds of vinegar spending on their quality is listed below.


Distilled White Vinegar

Distilled White Vinegar

  • Safe and Usable: Indefinitely
  • For Best Quality: Indefinitely

Red and White Wine Vinegar

Red and White Wine Vinegar

  • Safe and Usable: Indefinitely
  • For Best Quality: 2 years


Rice Vinegar

  • Safe and Usable: Indefinitely
  • For Best Quality: 2 Years


Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar

  • Safe and Usable: Indefinitely
  • For Best Quality: 5 years


Balsamic Vinegar

  • Safe and Usable: Indefinitely
  • For Best Quality: 2 to 3 years


What Happens if you Consume Spoiled Vinegar? 

It is highly unlikely for spoiled vinegar to make anybody sick. While the taste might differ, it still remains pretty edible and healthy to use in recipes.

Spoiled vinegar might lose its acidity, due to which people might want to toss it out. But if you want to incorporate vinegar in some other recipe that doesn’t require the invigorating acidic smell and taste, you can use the spoiled vinegar.

Can you Freeze Vinegar? 

Even though vinegar will remain fresh, regardless of freezing it or not, some people prefer freezing it to retain the quality and taste.

It can be done by following these steps:

  • Transfer the vinegar to a clean container while leaving some headspace.
  • Place the container in a plastic bag.
  • Put the bag in the freezer.

Even though vinegar has an indefinite shelf life, freezing will help retain the original freshness and taste.

Alternatives for Vinegar if it Goes Bad 

If the bottle of vinegar at your place is showing spoilage signs, you can use one of the following substitutes:

  • Lime juice
  • Regular wine
  • Lemon juice
  • Malt vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
Type of Vinegar Shelf Life How to Store Signs of Going Bad
White vinegar Indefinitely Cool, dark place Changes in appearance or flavor
Apple cider vinegar Indefinitely Cool, dark place Changes in appearance or flavor
Red wine vinegar 2-3 years Cool, dark place Changes in appearance or flavor
Balsamic vinegar Up to 10 years Cool, dark place Changes in appearance or flavor
Rice vinegar Indefinitely Cool, dark place Changes in appearance or flavor

What happens if you use expired vinegar?

Consuming expired vinegar will not harm your health. You might experience some changes in the overall taste. But apart from that, it is good to go.

Why did my vinegar mold?

While mold is rare, it can happen to vinegar. Generally, it grows on the mother of vinegar. If you notice it, it is best to discard that particular bottle of vinegar.

Can you get sick from expired vinegar?

No, you will not get sick from expired vinegar. But it is best to toss expired vinegar, especially the ones with visible mold.


The takeaway from the above write-up is that you can store the vinegar battle in your pantry for another year or even more without even looking at it. However, I would say, no need to hoard. It is better to consume it with the advised use-by-date and start relishing your everyday delicacies.

Though, in general, the information written on a vinegar bottle is mostly reliable. But I would recommend not taking any chance as it may vary from brand to brand and subsequently quality also varies. There is no replacement for your health ever. Thus, eat responsibly and stay healthy always!

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