Can Vinegar Go Bad?

Feb 5, 2013 2:01 pm

Vinegar's shelf life is quite a life. How long?

can vinegar go bad?
Photo: Tupolev und seine Kamera on Flickr
This vinegar is...say...5 years old. Is it still good?
 

It's tangy, fashionable to drink when mixed with water, largely responsible for humanity's obsession with pickling and, quite frankly, we will not eat fish and chips without the malt variety. It's vinegar. But the big question: is that sticky bottle of it in the back of your pantry still good?

If you're asking if it will kill, or at the very least sicken, you, no. Vinegar, whether it's white, red wine, white wine, balsamic or that fancy tarragon stuff, is by nature self-preserving. Nothing can live in something that acidic. That seven-year-old bottle of apple cider vinegar you've managed to hang onto through four moves? It's fine. What about that eerie film floating around in there like a creepy jellyfish? It's called the mother, a naturally occurring bacteria in vinegar that, you guessed it, makes more of the sour stuff. So eye it suspiciously all you want, but they sell mother online to make artisanal vinegars. Ugh, just saying that made our mustaches hurt.

Consider this: aged balsamic is already upwards of a decade old before it gets anywhere near your salad. What's another few years going to do? Make it better?

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