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Can Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?

Apple cider vinegar is often used in many kinds of vinaigrettes, marinades and dressing for salads. It can be also used as a food preservative. It is also used to overcome few types of ailments.

Since it has a variety of applications, it’s good to know the answers to questions such as – “how long does apple cider vinegar last?” and “how to properly store apple cider vinegar?”.

Apple cider vinegar and fresh apples
Apple cider vinegar and fresh apples

How long does apple cider vinegar last?

Due to the acidic nature of the apple cider vinegar, it can last years without spoiling. Every bottle of vinegar should have a “Best By” or “Use By” date printed on it, but that only means that the liquid should be of best quality for at least the mentioned period of time.

In most cases you should be able to store this vinegar for at least 5 years, but you should be able to use it after that time as well (again, in most cases).

Bottle of apple cider vinegar
(credit: Rajya Laxmi)

To ensure that the vinegar stays at its best you should store apple cider vinegar properly. To do that, you just need to store it in a cool and dark place (e.g. pantry) and always keep in mind that the bottle of vinegar should be tightly sealed when not in use. Any contaminants (even dust particles) that will get into the bottle might cause that the liquid will deteriorate faster.

After opening vinegar’s seal, you might consider storing it in the fridge instead of the pantry.

Unfiltered apple cider vinegar andh fresh red apples
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar andh fresh red apples

Does apple cider vinegar expire? How to tell if apple cider vinegar is bad?

In certain cases apple cider vinegar might go bad, it’s rare but it happens (mostly due to some contaminants that found their way into the bottle).

Vinegar does not expire after certain time, but its quality will certainly deteriorate (most people are not fond of the changes in taste that are occurring) over time (especially after opening the bottle).

Sometimes the apple cider vinegar can become cloudy or hazy, but it’s still safe to use. As I’ve mentioned above, as the time passes by, vinegar’s taste and odor changes – it becomes even more acidic and the flavor becomes more intense.

Apple cider vinegar - it can go bad, but it rarely happens
Image used under Creative Commons from Andy Roberts

There are a few signs that indicate that the vinegar is bad – presence of sediment at the bottom of the bottle, noticeable changes in color or taste.

If you’re not sure whether the vinegar in your bottle is fine, it’s definitely better to examine its taste before using it. If the taste seems fine, you can use it. If not, throw it away.

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t expire similarly to other products. It’s a very acidic substance and it will be fine for many years, provided it’ll be stored properly and any contaminants won’t find its way inside the bottle.

If they do, however, they might cause that the apple cider vinegar will spoil. Because of that, it’s pretty difficult to answer the main question – “can apple cider vinegar go bad?”. It might go bad, but if it’ll be stored properly and with adequate, that shouldn’t happen.