After you’ve bought an expensive bottle of Balsamic vinegar, you might be using it occasionally for salad dressing or preparing balsamic vinaigrette dressings. And you have a partially used bottle of balsamic vinegar in your kitchen cabinet sitting there for months or years. Thus you might be worried about questions like “Does balsamic vinegar go bad?” or “How long does balsamic vinegar last?”
This article explores all facts about the expiry, shelf life, spoilage, and quality testing of balsamic vinegar, and also the correct way to store it.
Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?
To put it plainly, balsamic vinegar doesn’t go bad. All types of vinegar have a highly acidic liquid environment that is a hostile condition for bacterial growth. Thus a bottle of balsamic vinegar can last for many years if stored properly.
Everything in the world is subjected to change, an undeniable scientific truth. Even the finest quality balsamic vinegar when stored infinitely, its color, flavor, and texture gradually diminish.
A securely sealed bottle of balsamic vinegar if well stored can stay good for decades; the bottle can be passed on to the next generation and still remain safe for consumption.
The traditional balsamic vinegar, made with only grapes, is aged for years to achieve its finest quality. The color of the label indicates the minimum level of aging: Red means 12 years, silver means 18 years, and gold means 25 years. There is no benefit or reason to age the vinegar beyond 25 years.
However, regular balsamic vinegar that you buy from grocers stays at the peak of its quality for about three to five years. It’s wise to use an opened bottle of vinegar within two years. Do a taste test to determine if it’s still good to use or spoiled.
Note that balsamic vinegar expiry also depends on the temperature and light conditions, how often you open the bottle and the actual quality of vinegar you bought.
Not all brands of balsamic vinegar are authentic. Some brands sell cheap wine vinegar that’s been sweetened, dyed, and thickened with various additives.
How to Know When Balsamic Vinegar Goes Bad?
Rarely does balsamic vinegar go bad that too if stored without the cap on the bottle or with indirect exposure to heat, sunlight, or dust. Despite the poor storage, the acidic conditions create a hostile environment for the survival of microorganisms. It’s actually the loss of flavor that makes the vinegar unusable anymore.
A noticeable change in color, formation of sediments, or a cloudy lump in the vinegar doesn’t actually alter the taste of the vinegar. Occasionally, any grape vinegar may develop small lump-like compounds called “mother vinegar” but even such changes don’t make it unsafe for consumption.
If you notice any unusual changes in texture or you notice a mold, it has gone bad.
Smell the vinegar and if it smells rancid, it has expired and is not fit for use.
While taste-testing, any harsh taste indicates the spoilage of the vinegar and is not suitable for cooking.
If you’re unaware of how long the balsamic vinegar has been stored in your pantry, then test it by smelling and tasting it before you use it in your dishes.
Balsamic Vinegar Shelf Life
Technically, the shelf life of balsamic vinegar is 4 to 5 decades; this is true for the traditional varieties of vinegar (red, silver, and gold) aged in oak barrels for 12 to 25 years. The longer they are stored better they become.
Regular balsamic vinegar (aged 2-6 months) will begin to lose its appeal in three to five years. Most brands do not mention the expiry date on the label. However, once the bottle is opened, it will start to deteriorate in quality, gradually losing those distinctive flavors, color, and texture.
Storing correctly can prevent evaporation and chemical reactions, and keeps the vinegar in good flavor for years.
How to Store Balsamic Vinegar?
The vinegar loses its appeal and flavor if they are exposed to heat and light, and subjected to evaporation.
After every use, ensure that the vinegar bottle is caped properly to an air-tight condition.
Always place the vinegar bottle in a cool, dark cupboard in a tightly sealed bottle.
Studies conducted by the Australian Wine Institute suggest that even the light emanating from a fluorescent lamp can induce further fermentation of grapes wine, also applicable to wine vinegar. Also, the study indicated that merely storing wine in a tinted green bottle raises its resistance to light by a factor of 5 to 10.
In fact, all the brands ship their wine vinegar products in dark bottles and in corrugated cardboard cartons.
The ideal temperature for storing the vinegar ranges from 55F to 80F. Seasonal fall or rise in temperature does not matter, but exposure to heat for a prolonged period will negatively affect the vinegar.
Do You Need to Refrigerate Balsamic Vinegar?
There is no need to refrigerate balsamic vinegar even after opening the bottle for it stays good at normal room temperature. You can store vinegar in the refrigerator but there isn’t any added benefit in doing so.
Regular balsamic vinegar if refrigerated, may lead to a change in flavor over time and may also result in condensation.
When you are using vinegar for salad dressing, you may chill it for an hour through refrigeration. Cold vinegar won’t be good for marinades and sauces.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does balsamic glaze last?
Commercially sold regular balsamic vinegar would retain its glaze for three to five years, even after the bottle is opened. It’s self-preserving and its quality remains almost the same at least for three years. The expiry of a balsamic vinegar depends on the quality of the product. Superior quality vinegar is aged for 8 to 25 years.
Is balsamic vinegar bad for you?
Balsamic vinegar is a safe food additive that contains hardly little natural sugar and no fat at all. This vinegar is proved to be good for stabilizing blood pressure and lowering cholesterol. According to recent studies, it may help in weight loss as it works as an appetite suppressant, also rich in probiotic bacteria.
How long does balsamic vinaigrette last?
Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing needs to be refrigerated for preservation. If continuously refrigerated, it will generally stay at its best quality for about 6 to 9 months.
How long can you keep balsamic vinegar after opening?
If the bottle is tightly sealed and stored properly, balsamic vinegar will stay good at least for 3 years even after opening the bottle. If you are using the vinegar regularly (frequently opening) then you can expect the vinegar to last for about 12 to 18 months.
Is it OK to use expired balsamic vinegar?
Past the expiry date, the vinegar’s flavor and color might diminish but will remain safe for use for 3 to 5 years. Again, its durability and safety depend on correct storage, the quality of the vinegar, and how frequently you open the bottle.
Why does balsamic vinegar go lumpy?
If you find a gross gel-like mold floating in your vinegar bottle, that cloudy lump is the “mother of vinegar”. It’s a kind of cellulose and there is no harm in consuming it. If aren’t comfortable with it, you can strain out the “mother of vinegar” using a coffee filter. In fact, balsamic vinegar never gets spoiled.
For further reading, find out the best substitutes for balsamic vinegar that you can use in recipes.