Can out-of-date vinegar make you sick? (+3 storage tips)

In this article, we will answer the question “Can out-of-date vinegar make you sick?”, and how long does vinegar last?

Can out-of-date vinegar make you sick?

No, out-of-date vinegar won’t make you sick. All types of vinegar are self-preserving because of their acidic composition. The acid is formed as a result of fermentation. Any fermented product naturally has a long shelf-life. 

Vinegar pretty much has an indefinite shelf-life. The appearance of cloudiness or sediment at the bottom of the vinegar bottle is quite natural. Vinegar remains safe to consume. 

How long does vinegar last?

(Unopened/Opened)In the pantry 
White vinegar Indefinite 
Apple cider vinegar Indefinite 
Balsamic vinegar Indefinite 
Raspberry vinegar Indefinite 
Rice wine vinegar Indefinite 
Red wine vinegar Indefinite 

Shelf-life and proper storage tips for apple cider vinegar

The main acid in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid and has a ph ranging between 2 and 3. The low ph environment of the vinegar prevents the growth of pathogenic microbes like E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans

Vinegar has the highest anti-microbial properties among coffee, soda, juice, olive oil, and tea. The rule of thumb is to keep apple cider vinegar in a cool, dark, and dry place away from sources of heat like direct sunlight and the stovetop. Refrigerating cider vinegar has no impact on its shelf-life.

How does apple cider vinegar change over time?

The sediment at the bottom of the apple cider vinegar bottle and the haziness are merely an aesthetic problem. This problem arises due to the oxidation that takes place when vinegar is repeatedly exposed to air. 

Oxidation reactions also result in the formation of citric acid and sulfur dioxide. Both of which are great preservatives. This changes the flavor profile of vinegar to some extend but the nutritional profile and the shelf-life remain almost the same. 

Apple cider vinegar usually comes with an expiry date but It remains safe to consume past this date.

How to tell If vinegar has gone bad?

Separation results in sediment formation. It normally occurs when the vinegar has been sitting for too long in the storage. But it does not make the vinegar unsafe. 

Vinegar practically does not go bad. The acidity of the vinegar does not support the growth of bacteria other than those naturally present in it. 

So it all boils down to the quality of the vinegar. If you do not like it, you can throw it out. You can also use this extra acidic vinegar in smaller amounts for recipes that require acid.

How long does Balsamic vinegar last?

Traditional Balsamic vinegar is aged 15, 20, or even 25 years. That’s why it is very expensive. On the other hand, its commercially prepared counterpart, the regular Balsamic vinegar takes only a few months of processing and includes artificial flavors that mimic the taste and flavor profile of the traditional vinegar. 

In the pantry
Traditional Balsamic vinegarMore than 20 years 
Commercially Prepared Balsamic Vinegar3 years past the Best-by date 

Regular Balsamic vinegar has a pretty good taste and is inexpensive. Traditional vinegar tastes better as it ages while regular vinegar has a Best-by date labeled on it.

Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.

Can you drink vinegar?

Can breathing vinegar hurt you?

How to store Balsamic vinegar?

  • Balsamic vinegar is the easiest to store. The rule of thumb is to keep balsamic in a cool, dark, and dry place. The pantry or kitchen cabinet works best. After opening, make sure you seal it back tightly. 
  • Do not keep it open for too long. Keep the bottle clean by wiping the drops of balsamic from the bottle. 
  • Balsamic does not have to be refrigerated. It must be kept away from direct sunlight or heat from the stove.

What is rice vinegar? Does it go bad?

Yes, Rice vinegar can go bad. It is a shelf-stable product. Its acidic nature makes it last quite long unless you help it becoming contaminated. However, It will lose its strength and flavor over time.

Vinegar is an aqueous solution of Acetic Acid comprising about 5-20% of the total volume. The acetic acid is produced as a result of sugar fermentation and ethanol oxidation by the bacteria Acetobacter. 

Vinegar has different types including Balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar, etc. Rice vinegar is produced as a result of the controlled fermentation of rice water. 

Rice vinegar is widely used for barbecuing ribs, salad dressing, and even in the making of sushi rice.


In this article, we answered the question “Can out-of-date vinegar make you sick?”, and how long does vinegar last?



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.