Quick Answer: Can Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad? Because balsamic vinegar is so acidic, it is safe to consume and use for years without any problems. However, over time the quality will drop, especially if it is a cheaper type of vinegar. The only time to discard it completely is if it changes color altogether, which is very unlikely to happen.
In this quick guide we shall take a look at if balsamic vinegar can go bad and what the differences are.
So, let’s get to it!
Can Balsamic Vinegar Become Bad?
It isn’t surprising to find an expired bottle of balsamic vinegar that still has half left at the back of a cupboard – we have all been there.
Whilst it could just be something cheap you picked up at the grocery store, to a very premium Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP, it is still annoying to realize that you forgot about it (the latter being worse).
Fortunately, balsamic vinegar doesn’t go bad, not really, and that applies to all vinegar.
It is so acidic that you can pretty much use it for years to come without any issue at all.
Whilst that is true, it also depends on the vinegar that you buy.
It isn’t uncommon to buy cheap balsamic vinegar, in fact most of us choose that option and why not?
However, the cheaper the balsamic vinegar, the more likely the quality will drop over time which could be the test to whether the vinegar is still usable or not.
This means that there might be some changes to the overall appearance. This doesn’t mean it can’t be used though.
Further on down the article we take a look at the different changes that balsamic vinegar can take on over time and what they might mean.
So How Long Can Balsamic Vinegar Actually Last?
Due to balsamic vinegar being so acidic, there is a good chance that it will last for more than 5 years, with the possibility of many more.
Though, if it is the cheaper variety of balsamic vinegar, then it might only be a couple of years or three.
However, you cannot really be sure how long the balsamic vinegar will last, so just like everything when it comes to consumables, you will want to check it before you put it onto food.
Otherwise, you may end up wasting it all if it has gone bad!
Also, it might depend on your own preference. For example, it might appear to have formed a sediment or taste extra acidic due to sitting in its own juice for a long time.
If you don’t like these things, then you won’t eat it, no matter how safe it is to do so.
Does Open Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?
If you are going to be finding an old balsamic vinegar at the back of a cupboard or in the pantry, then it is more than likely it will have already been opened.
Fortunately, it can still be used as long as it is sealed, and has been throughout that time.
This is also because balsamic vinegar doesn’t need a lot when it comes to storage.
So long as it is in a dark place and away from any sources of heat, whether opened or not, it will last for years.
Are There Different Vinegar Types?
There are different balsamic vinegar types. Whilst this might not appear to matter, it really does, especially when it comes to how much the quality will drop over time, but also it will give you an idea of the quality in the first place.
First things first, if the bottle doesn’t have the words ‘traditional’ or Modena on the labeling, then it is safe to say it is cheap balsamic vinegar.
This isn;t a bad thing, though it is seen as an imitation of the real thing. However, why pay more when it does the same job, right?
So, whilst there is the store bought cheaper vinegar, there is also the Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP which is definitely quality stuff, though a good alternative to what people call the ‘real balsamic vinegar’.
These are the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP and the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Reggio Emilia DOP.
These two are the cream of the crop when it comes to balsamic vinegar and are very expensive.
However, whilst it is fancy to have a top of the range balsamic vinegar, the cheapest one from the store will do the same job, and last a long time.
The only difference is that the quality will drop during that period of time, compared to the more expensive versions.
So, it is up to you which one you prefer and how long you may keep the balsamic vinegar for.
What is the ‘Mother’ in Vinegar?
When you open your balsamic vinegar you may have noticed this quite gross and strange looking gel sort of substance floating around the bottle.
Whilst the first thought might be to return it back to the store, it isn’t necessary.
This blob that you see is actually the ‘mother’ and it won’t harm you in any way. In fact, it is just cellulose.
This might gross you out a little bit, but some people even eat that jell-o like vinegar filled blob.
That’s because some people think that having the ‘mother’ out of the balsamic vinegar bottle is super healthy, that’s why they make unfiltered and unpasteurized vinegar their only choice for topping a salad.
The other options to take are just to let it float around the bottle in peace, or you can remove it.
Some people find straining the liquid using a coffee filter is a good idea, but there are probably other good ways too.
So, because the ‘mother’ is likely to be present if the balsamic vinegar has been unpasteurized, there is a chance it could still form on other types of vinegar which aren’t so unfiltered.
This is because if there is a chance that there is non-fermented alcohol and sugar within the bottle, the ‘mother’ might form.
Whilst not a true ‘mother’, if left for a few years in this state a gooey blob may just appear to be floating within the balsamic vinegar.
Does The Quality Of Balsamic Vinegar Drop Over Time?
Whilst balsamic vinegar might be safe to use way past its expiry date, you may have noticed that the bottle you have just found in the cupboard looks different to how it used to when it comes to its appearance.
Most of the time this isn’t a cause for concern, however it can be. Whilst it won’t harm you, it won’t taste so good and will need to be disposed of. So, let’s take a look at some examples:
More often than not, over time there will be a slight change in color when it comes to balsamic vinegar that has been left for a long time. This is absolutely normal and you can still use the vinegar.
Most of the time the balsamic vinegar goes a little pale, but if the color has changed, then just throw it away.
The quality will have gone altogether and it won’t be worth using.
Liquid Has Gone Cloudy
It is completely normal for balsamic vinegar, or any type of vinegar, to go cloudy. It doesn’t mean anything for its quality and it will not affect the flavor.
If this isn’t something you like, try using a coffee filter to remove it, but just remember that it does nothing to ruin the balsamic vinegar.
There is Sediment
If you have bought unfiltered or unpasteurized balsamic vinegar, there is a good chance you will notice a gooey blob floating in the liquid. This is called the ‘mother’ (as stated above) and is completely normal.
It may also happen to balsamic vinegar that isn’t unpasteurized too as sediments may form over a long period of time. Again, this is perfectly fine and the balsamic vinegar will be safe to use.
If the gooey blob does turn you off the balsamic vinegar, then you can remove it by straining it via a coffee filter. Otherwise, just let it be.
Is There an Expiry Date on Balsamic Vinegar?
You will notice that the label on a balsamic vinegar is ‘best buy’ which means that it doesn’t need to be used by the date.
In fact, what it actually means is that post this date, the quality may begin to decrease.
If you store the balsamic vinegar well, you won’t notice a sharp incline for a year or two.
The good thing about an expiry date is that you can take a look at the bottle and then work out how long it has been for the quality to drop.
How Should You Store Balsamic Vinegar?
As we stated earlier, balsamic vinegar doesn’t require much when it comes to storing it.
This means that the vinegar that you found is probably fine to consume still – so long as it has been sealed throughout that time.
To store balsamic vinegar, you just need to put it into a cupboard for darkness, but away from direct sunlight or any heat sources.
Also, the top needs to be sealed, whether it has been opened or not.
If you follow these steps, then the balsamic vinegar will last for years without any problems.
However, if you do leave the vinegar exposed to sunlight, or leave the top unsealed, then the overall quality will lower at a much faster rate.
However, that is it. It will still be available to use for a while, but just not as long as if you store it away properly.
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