Does Rice Vinegar Go Bad

Some varieties of vinegar are quite popular, like balsamic or apple cider vinegar, while others not so much. Rice vinegar belongs to the latter group.

You’ve probably bought a bottle because a recipe called for it. Now you find yourself with rice vinegar that’s past the date on the label. Does rice vinegar go bad?

Even though you know that vinegar, generally speaking, doesn’t go bad, it makes sense to know more about this specific type. If you’d like to learn about storage, shelf life, and going bad of rice vinegar, read on.

Rice vinegar in a glass bowl
Rice vinegar in a glass bowl

How To Store Rice Vinegar

Storing rice vinegar is pretty similar to storing other kinds of vinegar, like balsamic or red wine.

That means you should keep the bottle in a cool and dark place, away from light and sources of heat. The pantry is the best option, but a cupboard in the kitchen can do the job too.

As usual, once you open the bottle, make sure it’s always sealed tightly when not in use.

When it comes to where you keep the vinegar after opening the bottle, for best results you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. Generally speaking, vinegar is a shelf-stable product and can be stored at room temperature. But there are some producers that recommend keeping it in the fridge after opening.


If the label doesn’t say you should refrigerate it after opening, keep it at room temperature.

Cucumber salad with sesame seeds, dressed with rice vinegar, lime and sesame oil
Cucumber salad with sesame seeds, dressed with rice vinegar, lime and sesame oil

How Long Does Rice Vinegar Last

Like other types of vinegar, there is no exact shelf life of rice vinegar. Of course, many producers put a best-by date on the package because people tend to trust food with a date on the label more. However, that date is only a rough estimate of how long the condiment will retain its freshness.

Even though rice vinegar (sometimes called rice wine vinegar) is less acidic and slightly sweet compared to other varieties, it should still last for years past that date.

Since this variety isn’t as acidic as the others, it doesn’t retain its flavor as well as the others. That means that after say 5 years of storage, you might notice some changes in flavor. So if you expect to store it for more than 5 years, it’s best to put it into the fridge. Or buy a smaller bottle instead.

Rice vinegar (unopened or opened)5+ years10+ years

Please note that the periods above are for the best quality. Rice vinegar lasts indefinitely.

Rice vinegar
Image used under Creative Commons from ben jones

How To Tell If Rice Vinegar Is Bad

First of all, take note of the vinegar’s color when you buy it. Rice vinegar comes in a range in colors, and each one tastes slightly different. There’s the typical clear one, but there are also rice vinegars in different shades of red and brown.

Without knowing the color you won’t notice that the color has changed, and a change in color is a sign of deterioration. In other words, altered color can mean that some of the vinegar’s flavor is gone.

Like other varieties of vinegar, it’s highly unlikely for rice vinegar to go bad in a way it’s unsafe to eat. However, if you noticed that your vinegar has a noticeably altered color, or smells off or rotten, discard it. Same thing if it doesn’t taste like it used to. That means that after a long period of storage you should give it a taste before using it.

Last but not least, let’s touch upon mother of vinegar. If you notice a cloudy (or slimy) sediment at the bottom of the bottle, that’s the mother. It forms over time after opening the bottle, even if your rice vinegar was filtered. It’s harmless, safe to consume, and you can filter it out using coffee filters.

Vinegar with mother is perfectly fine to use, even though you might find it a bit gross.

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