Does balsamic vinegar go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “does balsamic vinegar go bad” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does balsamic vinegar take to go bad or does its acidity change over time. Moreover, we will also discuss some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of balsamic vinegar.

Does balsamic vinegar go bad?

Balsamic vinegar rarely ever goes bad. It is only when there is an addition of contaminants that it does so.

Vinegar is traditionally the product of the acetous fermentation of dilute alcoholic solutions. It is produced microbiologically from natural alcoholic solutions or by dilution of acetic acid,. by the action of acidophilic bacteria, resulting in  a very low pH.(1) 

Traditional balsamic vinegar (TBV) is homemade vinegar produced in Italy, by traditional method in surface culture fermentation. The raw material is cooked grapes with pH values of 2.3–3.2. As with other vinegars, it is obtained by a two-stage fermentation process. (2)

This makes it unfavorable for more bacteria to grow because of the competition that takes place inside the medium. 

Some studies have also recently highlighted that yeasts metabolism can affect balsamic vinegar chemical properties. (8) Contamination with toxins derived from grape is also possible (9)

What are the health implications of consuming contaminated vinegar?

Especially vinegar made from fruits collected by consumers from their own orchards contains much higher amounts of toxins derived from these fruits.

These toxins may cause damage to vital organs and systems including the liver, kidneys, and the immune system.

Another negative impact is seen in the gastrointestinal system, disrupting intestinal barrier function. In addition, it may cause a disruption in the balance between intestinal microbiota.(9)

What changes may occur over time in balsamic vinegar?

Like other kinds of vinegar, balsamic vinegar does not expire, some organoleptic or aesthetic changes might occur over the course of time that may be the result of exposure to light and air, these changes are mainly due to improper storage (2,3, 4, 6):

  • Balsamic vinegar may get hazy or cloudy due to deposition of some sediments, but they can be removed after filtration and vinegar are good to use again.
  • Balsamic vinegar that has been stored for a longer duration develops a slimy substance particularly known as ‘mother’ because it can be used to make a new batch of vinegar. 
  • By the time, the oxygenation process occurs in balsamic vinegar that may affect its odor and flavor that can become deeper, sour and acidic.
  • Like other food products, vinegars also suffer oxidation after being opened. Oxidation processes promote a series of chemical and enzymatic reactions that alter vinegar. Therefore, oxygen is the main cause of vinegar quality deterioration.
  • All aromatics (grape, alcohol, yeast and nuruk flavor), except caramel, decreased after time compared to their initial values. This result may be due to the evaporation of volatile components in vinegars during storage.

Does the acidity of vinegar change?

The pH tends to decrease during the storage period, mainly due to the amount of organic or total acids present in the vinegar. 

The change in total acidity with storage tends to increase in non-sterilized products, as acetic acid produced by the action of acetic acid bacteria in non-sterile products tend to determine the total acid content.(6)

How to store balsamic vinegar?

Storing balsamic vinegar is pretty similar to storing other kinds of vinegar, like rice, white or red wine vinegar. Proper storage helps in reducing food waste and maximizing food quality by delaying their deterioration and decomposition processes.

Never buy balsamic vinegar that’s in a clear bottle as the light will cause the balsamic to deteriorate more rapidly. Balsamic vinegar should be stored in an airtight properly sealed container to protect it from oxidative changes. If exposed to air, it will cause evaporation hence, resulting in loss of flavor.

Balsamic vinegar should be placed at the dry place at room temperature. Direct sunlight and heat could degrade the vinegar much more quickly. Balsamic vinegar should be kept away from heat sources and light at some dark place to extend its shelf life.

Does balsamic vinegar need refrigeration or freezing?

Balsamic vinegar is best stored at room temperature as it is highly acidic in nature 

The organic acids in vinegar (mainly acetic acid) are capable of passing through cell membranes, inhibiting the proliferation of many types of pathogenic bacteria in different foods 

 Thus, the product is safe from microbial spoilage therefore it is known as self-preserving.(5)

Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.

Does vinegar expire?

How long does Balsamic vinegar last?

Does rice vinegar go bad?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “does balsamic vinegar go bad” as well as other related questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does balsamic vinegar take to go bad or does its acidity changes over time and what are some of the storage practices needed to prolong the shelf life of balsamic vinegar.


  1. M. Plessi, VINEGAR, Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition), Academic Press, 2003, 5996-6004,
  2. Maria Gullo, Paolo Giudici, Acetic acid bacteria in traditional balsamic vinegar: Phenotypic traits relevant for starter cultures selection, International Journal of Food Microbiology, 125,, 2008,46-53,
  3. Marlene Geiger, Vinegar Shelf Life and Safety, Iowa State University, Answer Line, 2021
  4. V. Andreou, M. Giannoglou, M.Z. Xanthou, M. Metafa, G. Katsaros, Aging acceleration of balsamic vinegar applying micro-oxygenation technique, Food Chemistry, 419, 2023.
  5. M.C. Garcia-Parrilla, M.J. Torija, A. Mas, A.B. Cerezo, A.M. Troncoso, Vinegars and Other Fermented Condiments, Fermented Foods in Health and Disease Prevention, 2017, 577-591,
  6. Minjeong Kang, Jung-Heun Ha, Youngseung Lee, Physicochemical properties, antioxidant activities and sensory characteristics of commercial gape vinegars during long-term storage, Food Sci. Technol, Campinas, 40(4): 909-916, 2020.
  7. Christine Rukavena, 40 Balsamic-Kissed Recipes, Taste of Home website 2023.
  8. L. Solieri, P. Giudici Yeasts associated to Traditional Balsamic Vinegar: Ecological and technological features, International Journal of Food Microbiology 125, 36–45, 2008.
  9. Z.D. Heperkan et al, Unexpectedly high patulin contamination and co-occurrence of ochratoxin A in homemade vinegar, Food Control 148, 2023.

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