Does Vinegar go bad?

In this brief guide, we will address the question, “does vinegar go bad” as well as other questions pertaining to the subject at hand like how much time does vinegar (white and apple cider) 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 vinegar.

Does vinegar go bad?

Yes, vinegar does go bad. Vinegar can be spoiled or rotten but this happens very rarely. Vinegar is formed by the fermentation process and known as a fermented beverage. Vinegar is acidic in nature, that is why it has self-preserving properties.

Vinegar is one of the most used seasonings or condiments in a wide range of food products. It provides specific sour taste and aroma to food products. The most commonly used type of vinegar used for food purposes in recipes is white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.

White vinegar

White vinegar is considered safe for consumption even long after the expiry date as it has an indefinite shelf life, but some organoleptic changes have been observed. These organoleptic changes are not too significant and are observed after a period of 3-4 years.

Apple cider vinegar

Aesthetics of apple cider vinegar may change as it ages, due to exposure to oxygen. But these changes do not significantly affect the nutritional value or quality of apple cider vinegar.

Red wine vinegar

Red wine vinegar is usually paired with healthy food items like pork, beef, and vegetables. It has a fruity-tangy flavor that goes well with salads and mirandes. Red wine vinegar, unlike other vinegars, red wine needs to be refrigerated to ensure maximum shelf life. 

Changes that may occur over time

As mentioned earlier, normally 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:

  • 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.
  •  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. So, old vinegar is harmless and safe to use for consumption purposes.
  • By the time the oxygenation process occurs in vinegar that may affect its odour and flavour of vinegar become deeper, sour and acidic.
  • The moisture in the air can weaken the acidity of vinegar as water from the air can be absorbed by acetic acid. Vinegar will lose its flavour as acidity declines, therefore; it is advised to cover the container tightly with the lid immediately after using it.

Does acidity of vinegar change?

By the time yes, the acidity of vinegar weakens gradually, mainly for two reasons.

1-    Due to moisture, as it is absorbed by acetic acid and it will lose its acidity.

2-    Stability, acetic acid decomposes by time.

Other FAQs about Vinegar which you may be interested in.

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Vinegar Storage Tips

Proper storage helps in reducing food waste and maximizing food quality by delaying their deterioration and decomposition processes. Vinegar should be stored in an airtight properly sealed container to protect it from oxidative changes.

 It should be placed at the dry place at room temperature. Vinegar should be kept away from heat source and light at some dark place to extend its shelf life.

Does vinegar need refrigeration or freezing?

Vinegar does not need refrigeration or freezing, it is ideally stored at room temperature. The chilled temperature may alter its flavour.

Vinegar is best stored at room temperature as it is highly acidic in nature and has antimicrobial properties. Its pH is around 2 and at this pH, most of the microorganisms are not able to grow or proliferate. Thus, the product is safe from microbial spoilage therefore it is known as self-preserving.

Usage of vinegar

Vinegar is widely used seasoning around the world, it would make the great dipping sauce and used as salad dressings, condiments to preserve meat, for pickling spiced fruits and vegetables. It is an important ingredient for many recipes, sauces and marinades.

Vinegar is used in foods to enhance its flavour and add balance to dishes, vinegar also improves the texture of the product by breaking down the complex substances.

It is also used to make cottage cheese by adding it into milk.


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