Does vinegar go bad?

sally2_gwNovember 7, 2011

I mean, it's vinegar, right?

I have some old, and some very old vinegar. For instance, I have nearly full bottle of Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar with the best by date of 3/28/2010. I have a nearly empty bottle of Champaign vinegar whose expiration date is worn off - I don't even see it any more, but it's got to be at least as old as the above mentioned apple cider vinegar. Then, I have a bottle of vinegar that was gifted to me years and years ago, which I keep forgetting about. It's in a brown bottle with a rubber cork type lid that has the wire clamp down thingy. It has a sprig of what I think is tarragon in it. When I open the bottle, the vinegar smells good, but I'm kind of afraid to taste it. Then again, vinegar is used as a preservative.

Can you tell I'm cleaning out my pantry?


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I had cider vinegar get some brown sediment on the bottom. I used it anyway. I believe this is called "mother" if I'm remembering correctly.

I often wonder the same thing Sally. A person several bottles of vinegars, to just use a few tbsp in recipes. Champagne, raspberry, red and white wine, etc etc.

I don't refrigerate my cider vinegar, but I do my red wine vinegar. I wonder why that is.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:49PM
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...and would your answer change if it were in a plastic bottle? I've got an unopened bottle of cane vinegar "with clouding agent" (whatever scariness that might be) that's minimum five years old. I know why I bought it but I still haven't got around to it!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:28PM
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I had some balsamic vinegar that I had kept in a cruet get such a thick mother on it it wouldn't pour. I didn't know at the time that if I had left it alone the mother would have sunk.
Mother of vinegar is not a sediment....but more like a gelatenous glob.....and found only in unpasteurized vinegar.
No vinegar doesn't go and.....remember the barrels of vinegar years and years old in Italy?
And no need to keep it in the refrigerator....if it is vinegar and not fruit juice soured and called vinegar.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:32PM
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Some of it does. White wine vinegar can go off. And a favorite of mine, Trader Joe's orange champagne vinegar, really doesn't last, even in the fridge.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:59PM
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clipped from the Vinegar Institute faq page:

How Long Does Vinegar Last?

The Vinegar Institute conducted studies to find out and confirmed that vinegar�s shelf life is almost indefinite. Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. White distilled vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time. And, while some changes can be observed in other types of vinegars, such as color changes or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change. The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence.

Here is a link that might be useful: Vinegar Institute

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:22PM
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I just read my bottle of red wine vinegar and it says to refrigerate after opening. I don't have a lot of excess frig space to store vinegars.
I'd be more willing to buy exotic vinegars if I knew they could be kept at room temperature with no fear of spoiling.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 5:36PM
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Read the label.....I have some rice vinegar that has rice wine and distillate (??) and sulfites to retard spoilage and another rice wine vinegar that has just rice wine and distilled water to adjust acidity to.4.2%....I have a balsamic that has wine vinegar and grape must and caramel...and another that is just aged modena vinegar.
I'll bet the vinegar that says to refrigerate contains something other than just wine vinegar.
All the wonderful vinegars at the Olive Tap likely contain something other than pure vinegar, but they advocate keeping the bottle out near wehre you cook and drizzle often.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 6:15PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have a bottle of Regina brand Balsamic Raspberry vinegar that is over ten years old.
The ingredients say 100% balsamic vinegar, natural raspberry juice.
Contains sulfites. Acidity 6%.

Keep or Toss?
It's in a glass bottle. Bought at Winn Dixie, before they remodeled and long before they went out!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:03PM
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Another place to check is when you wonder if something is still safe to use past the use-by date.


Here is a link that might be useful: Still Tasty - vineger

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:06PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Thanks grainlady! That sight says to toss.

Which makes me unhappy but I guess an opened glass bottle in the cupboard isn't exactly an oak casket or a dowry.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:20PM
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I find it interesting that the site says tarragon vinegar lasts longer (3 years) than cider or red wine vinegar. (2 years.) That's for best flavor, not for safety. It said they stay safe indefinitely. Thanks for the link, Grainlady

Thanks, everyone else, too, for your input..


    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 7:47PM
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I think that site (Still Tasty) says that your tarragon vinegar can be kept indefinitely. It may be past its prime for appearance or taste, but you'll only know that if you actually, yup, taste it. There doesn't appear to be any food safety reason to toss out what is probably a perfectly good bottle of vinegar. Unless you're a vinegar connoisseur or something . . .

I've used vinegar (rice, balasmic, white wine) that has sat around for years, it did the job that vinegar is supposed to.

As for manufacturers' label instructions to refrigerate, I'm a little skeptical. Why "wouldn't" they say to refrigerate it? There's no incentive for them to not be over-cautious. It's not their refrigerator space and electricity.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 11:06PM
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Actually Bumblebeez, that site says it's safe, just may not be at its peak taste-wise. Don't toss it before you try it.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2011 at 2:45AM
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