Can Vinegar Go Bad?

Can vinegar go bad? If you have a bottle of vinegar that you’ve bought quite some time ago and you wonder whether it’s still safe to use the vinegar, this article will give you all the information you need. You’ll also get to know how long does vinegar last, how to store it and whether or not it does expire. Do you really need to know it all? If you use vinegar every once in a while, it’s a pretty useful knowledge for you.

How long does vinegar last?

As a matter of fact, vinegar has an indefinite shelf life. Therefore, even when your vinegar has been in the bottle for years, it should still be fine. You should know, however, that through the years the strength and taste of vinegar changes. That’s a natural process, so don’t be alarmed when your quite-a-few-years-old vinegar tastes differently than the new one you’ve bought yesterday.

Few bottles of vinegar
Image used under Creative Commons from WordRidden

There are a few things you should remember when storing vinegar. By following these rules your vinegar will be of best quality for a longer period of time. First of all, keep it in a pretty cold room. Choosing to store it in the pantry is the right thing to do. Another thing is that it should be stored in a dark place, preferably in a cupboard or a locker. Light has a negative effect on the vinegar. And the last, yet equally important thing: once you’ve opened the bottle, keep it sealed tightly all the time. That will prevent any possible contaminants from getting into the bottle. Vinegar is very acidic, so any small contaminant doesn’t stand a chance against it and won’t be able to develop inside the bottle. Nevertheless, it’s not good to have a bottle of vinegar mixed with a number of various unknown substances.

Does vinegar expire?

As I’ve written above, vinegar can last indefinitely, so it doesn’t have an expiration date and it doesn’t expire. Producers place a “Use by" or “Best by" date on the bottle, but it only indicates for what time period the acidic liquid should be of best quality. After that time passes, the vinegar will still be good.

After some time of storing vinegar you might notice some sediment on the bottom of the bottle or the liquid starting to get cloudy. That’s perfectly normal and not harmless to the vinegar at all. To get rid of that you should simply filter the vinegar before using it. A coffee filter or a tissue should do the trick. Once the vinegar is filtered, it’s ready to use.

One more thing, if you’ll notice that your vinegar’s odor is really odd (funny, spoiled, etc.) or it doesn’t taste acidic at all, it’s better to throw it away. It’s extremely rarely that it happens, but it might happen and discarding vinegar when that happens is the best thing you can do.

As you can see, if someone would have asked you: “can vinegar go bad?", you can say that that’s possible, but it happens extremely rarely. Also, vinegar doesn’t expire – if it gets cloudy or there is some sediment on the bottom, you can simply filter it and it’s good to use.