Does Vinegar Go Bad?

Does vinegar ever go bad or is it an infinitely unspoiled substance? So you have had that bottle of vinegar for a while now and it has started to look a bit cloudy or it has changed color slightly. Does that mean it is bad? To determine this you will need to assess how you have been storing it.

Storing Vinegar

Vinegar should be stored in a cool dark environment, making sure that the top is tightened securely. Ideal places include cupboards and pantries where no light can shine on your vinegar and where it is likely to stay at comfortable temperature year round.

Be careful not to store vinegar in an area above your stove or near other appliances in your kitchen that may give off heat.

If you are not storing your vinegar in its original bottle, please note that containers, which are made from glass, porcelain, and ceramic, are the best containers to keep your vinegar at its best, since these containers are mostly airtight, and with the exception of glass keep out harmful sunlight, which may damage the nutritional benefits of some vinegar[1].

Does vinegar go bad?
(credit: felishumanus)

Does Vinegar Go Bad?

According to The Vinegar Institute[2] who has performed a series of studies to find out the shelf life of vinegar, there does not seem to be one. Vinegar has an indefinite amount of spoiling time, which means that your vinegar should never go bad. This is in part because of the acidic properties that it possesses, which make it virtually immune to spoiling. Neither does it need to be refrigerated. Though the appearance of the substance may change in slight as well as the measure of strength of its taste, it is not unsafe to ingest vinegar that could be years old. This vinegar is not spoiled, only aging.

Some types of vinegar, as previously mentioned, may change color or develop sediment at the bottom of the bottle. Do not be alarmed. This is caused by an aesthetic change in the vinegar over time.

Filtering the vinegar through a paper coffee filter can remove any haze or sediment that has accumulated inside your condiment. You can do this be placing the filter to the mouth of the container and using a rubber band or circling your hands around the lip of the containers opening, and then pouring the clean vinegar through the filter and into another container. Then wash the bottle and pour your vinegar back into it.

Do Different Types of Vinegar Keep for Longer?

There are many different types of vinegars to choose from such as wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, apple or cider vinegar, malt vinegar and a whole plethora more where that came from. The question is do the ingredients that make up these different vinegars play a role in the healthy look and taste of the vinegar?

The simplest way to discern this is to examine the acidity of the ingredients. Vinegars made from ingredients with a more acidic volume will therefore be more acidic themselves. The more acidic the vinegar is the longer it will take it to loose its color, develop sediment, or become hazy.

Apple vinegar and wine vinegar, which are more commonly used in your everyday kitchen recipes, tend to be the most acidic vinegars in use with a 5-6% level of acidity. This makes them pray to losing their color or developing haze and sediment, sooner than the less acidic vinegars like white distilled vinegar, which has an acidic level around 4%.

What is Mother of Vinegar?

Mother of Vinegar or Mycoderma aceti, is a natural process, which may occur when some non-fermented sugar or alcohol is contained inside the vinegar. Mother of vinegar is actually cellulose, which can also be known as a natural carbohydrate. This growth forms as a result of vinegar bacteria. It may have a brownish color that looks like pond scum, and though it is not very appetizing to look at it will not harm you if you consume it.

This is a less common problem today as most vinegar manufactures send their product through a pasteurization process before the vinegar is bottled and ready for sale to the consumer.

Once again, this growth can be removed by simply filtering the vinegar regularly through a coffee filter.

Summary
Now that you know that vinegar has an insurmountable lifetime of use, you may think twice before discarding that bottle of apple vinegar that has turned a darker brown than usual. Just remember to store your vinegar in a cool and dark space away from heat sources, and do not worry yourself if the color is off or there are some bits of sediment floating in the bottom of the bottle. Vinegar never goes bad.

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User Stories

Vinegar can go bad!

Author: Kathleen Brooks

I had a bottle of vinegar that was about 6 months old that had been stored in a dark cupboard.  I went to use it and when I opened it it had a real funky smell and then when looking at it more closely noted that there was a layer of some ort of black stuff on the top.  I poured it down the sink and the black stuff remained until the end when it came out it was a jelly like substance that had a horrible smell.  This was my first time ever experiencing this with vinegar.

Vinegar does go bad!

Author: Roxanne

Last night, I was making hamburger BBQ for my grandchildren. I dumped all the ingrediants in the pan, like I have hundreds of times. I gave it a good stir and then did a “taste test.” Something didn’t taste right. I looked in the vinegar bottle and it said it was good for another year. So I did another taste test. After gagging for a couple of minutes, I opened up the vinegar bottle, which was only purchased around six months ago, and smelled it. It was horrible. My daughter was there and also smelled it. She agreed with me that the vinegar was bad. The bottle got dumped and the BBQ went in the trash. Bad night!

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