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Can Rice Vinegar Go Bad?

Rice vinegar is a popular condiment and seasoning made from fermented rice. This type of vinegar is often used in Asian cooking, particularly Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese cuisine. Rice vinegar is loved for its delicate, mild, and somewhat sweetish flavor. It can be used in dips, dressings, marinades, and pickling. Can rice vinegar go bad?

If say, you bought several bottles of rice vinegar, we’re happy to report that the product will keep for a long time. As with all types of vinegar-based products, rice vinegar has a self-preserving property so it will keep for a long, long time.  Some even say rice vinegar won’t go bad at all. This isn’t true, but you can definitely use up your supply thanks to its long shelf life.

Drops of vinegar in oilImage used under Creative Commons from fdecomite

Can Rice Vinegar Go Bad?

The acidity of the vinegar inhibits bacterial and mold growth so it will take some time before rice vinegar becomes unusable. Still, rice vinegar has a limited storage life. The fact is, rice vinegar could degrade over time.

Rice vinegar that’s been stored for a while will produce peroxides, which are toxic compounds. Rice vinegar that’s gone bad is no longer safe to eat and will cause sickness. This is the reason why you should use up a bottle of rice wine before its expiry date.

Signs that Rice Vinegar Has Gone Bad

How do you know if rice vinegar is no longer safe to use? Look for slight or significant color changes. A bottle of rice vinegar that’s no longer safe to use will take on a dark yellow to almost molasses-like discoloration. It will also emit a rotten or unpleasant aroma. Rice vinegar will become darker and thicker the longer it is kept in storage, similar to balsamic vinegar. Although rice vinegar will become cloudy over time, it is still safe to use as long as there are no changes in flavor, aroma, and color.

How to Store Rice Vinegar?

The best way to store opened and unopened bottles of rice vinegar is in the pantry, at room temperature. Keep the product in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and sources of heat. Direct sunlight and heat could degrade the vinegar much more quickly. Since rice vinegar tends to lose its flavor over time, you have to consume the product as soon as possible for optimal flavor.

Vinegar in oil on a plateImage used under Creative Commons from stvcr

As for rice vinegar that’s nearing its expiry date, you can keep the product in the refrigerator. There is no need to transfer the product to a different container. Just make sure the product is always kept sealed after every use to extend its shelf life.

Can You Freeze Rice Vinegar?

You can freeze rice vinegar but the product does not need freezing at all. Freezing might water down the flavor of the vinegar once it’s been defrosted. Also, the acidity of the vinegar won’t be as robust when it is frozen and thawed. If you must freeze the rice vinegar, be sure to use a freezer-safe container. Glass bottles will shatter at freezing temps!


Rice vinegar is a kitchen staple with lots of uses! It gives an extra kick of flavor to stews, dressings, dips, and marinades. Can rice vinegar go bad? Yes, it can go bad at some point but this product has a long shelf life. There is no need to worry about its storage shelf life when you love cooking with rice vinegar!