You might be an expert cook or an amateur, but regardless of your cooking skills you definitely know that balsamic vinegar is one of the most valuable ingredients you can use in a recipe.
It is also a product that is not very cheap to buy, so when it’s time to get one you should know some facts about it, the most important of which is whether or not balsamic vinegar can go bad or expire.
Thankfully, we have the answer to this question, so keep on reading below to find out everything you need to know about balsamic vinegar!
What Is The Shelf Life Of Balsamic Vinegar?
When the bottle has never been opened, and in optimum conditions, balsamic vinegar can last forever.
Same as wine, its acid content helps keep it fresh for a very long time.
However, for the balsamic vinegar to taste great, it’s best to consume it within three years – testing its taste is an effective way to tell if it is good enough to use for your salad.
The taste could be somewhat more neutral or slightly stronger, but that depends on the temperature of the place you’ve stored it, whether or not it sees any sunlight, as well as the frequency of use, and the vinegar type you will use.
Even though balsamic vinegar can be kept for long periods of time and be okay to consume, its taste will most probably be unsatisfactory.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the authenticity of kinds of vinegar called “balsamic” is questionable.
That is because several companies are selling wine vinegar that has been loaded with sugar, colored, and thickened with different ingredients.
Any types of vinegar that are IGP, “of modeno,” and those that are marketed as ones for salad dressing, can be sold when they’re no more than two months of age.
So, if you are looking for the most authentic ones, you probably want to avoid those.
Even so, all balsamic vinegar, whether authentic or not, has similar life spans and must be stored in the same way.
How Do I Know If My Balsamic Vinegar Has Gone Bad?
Balsamic vinegar only goes bad when it is kept without a stopper or some kind of airproof cover.
Then again, its acidity is not conducive to microbes, although there is a tiny possibility that it will deteriorate under certain situations.
So, to tell if your vinegar has gone bad, you should:
Check The Vinegar
If the vinegar looks cloudy, settles, or has even a slight concentration of dregs, it is probably still fine to use.
The strange stuff you’re seeing is most probably a substance known as the “mother of vinegar.”
It is completely risk-free to drink, but you can always use coffee filters to make sure that it’s all clear.
Balsamic vinegar is not safe to consume when its texture has changed significantly or if mold is visible.
Take A Good Sniff
When you open a bottle and it has a yucky smell, discard it.
A bad smell is a good sign that your balsamic vinegar has gone bad and should be replaced with a new bottle.
Have A Bit Before Adding It To Your Food
The taste must be vinegary with a sweet undertone. Any bitter flavors could mean that it has gone bad and that it is no longer usable.
If your mate’s balsamic or the one you have at a steakhouse has a different look and taste than the one you have at your place, that should not necessarily worry you.
There are many different brands of balsamic vinegar on supermarket shelves and they all have different grades, so that’s probably the main reason why your one differs from the rest.
What Is The Storage Life Of Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar will not spoil or have any effects on your health even if it is several years over its expiry date.
However, the quality will begin to deteriorate, and the distinct flavors will be lost.
Even though standard balsamic vinegar practically will last for an indefinite period of time, it becomes less palatable after 3 to 5 years.
Proper vinegar storage will minimize evaporation and preserve the vinegar’s rich taste for a long time.
This is comparable to the method of aging a fine wine or single malt.
While complex chemical reactions are completed, the fluid soaks up aromas from the barrels it is “maturing” in and mellows out.
In fact, some more pricey types of authentic balsamic vinegar have been aged for more than 25 years!
Storing Balsamic Vinegar
It is critical to store balsamic vinegar properly so that you can protect it against its three arch-enemies:
- Warm Temperatures
Balsamic vinegar should be stored in a cool area away from direct sunlight.
To prevent your vinegar from evaporating or getting contaminated, you should always keep its bottle tightly closed.
Even though balsamic vinegar is different from wine, light similarly affects them both and so, same as wine, balsamic vinegar should not be left under strong lights.
Moreover, if the main use of your vinegar is as a salad dressing, then you can keep it in the fridge to make sure that it will stay fresh.
Generally, though, the perfect range for balsamic vinegar is from 59°F and 78°F.
You shouldn’t be concerned if your pantry’s temperature rises to 85°F a couple of days during the warmer months but storing vinegar at this temperature range an entire year will significantly alter its taste.
Is It Necessary For Balsamic Vinegar To Be Kept In The Fridge?
Even though refrigerating balsamic vinegar is an option, you should not necessarily do that as is not the best area to store it.
Cooler temperatures can result in taste alterations over time, while moist environments like that of the fridge can condensate the vinegar and end up diluting it.
But, as we previously mentioned, if your vinegar is primarily used as a salad dressing, then you might even like it cold and straight out of the fridge.
In that case and use, it is completely fine to keep it refrigerated.
Nevertheless, when making a sauce or a marinade it is best to keep the vinegar at room temperature, ideally inside one of your cupboards.
The Bottom Line
Balsamic vinegar is one of the best ingredients you can find in your kitchen when you want to turn a boring or simple dish into one that has an exquisite, flavorful taste.
Nevertheless, it is one of those products that can be quite pricey, so it is important to know how to properly store it and for how long you can keep it.
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