So you’re cleaning out the pantry but have a question: does apple cider vinegar go bad? This kind of vinegar might smell pungent and be difficult to consume on its own but it’s certainly a valuable ingredient in any kitchen.
Along with adding a zing to certain recipes, apple cider vinegar is now also considered a health supplement. Plus, the high-quality types can be quite expensive. With all this in mind, we certainly don’t want to toss any of that precious liquid even after it’s passed its expiration date.
When answering the question “does apple cider vinegar go bad?” the direct answer is a bit difficult to get.
In a nutshell, apple cider vinegar has a high level of acid content. As long as it’s not contaminated by other ingredients, the ACV will probably be useful up until five years after it expires.
Let’s look into this in detail.
When Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?
Apple cider vinegar won’t go bad until and unless you don’t store it correctly. It might also go off if not sealed properly. This is not because of something in the vinegar itself but because the risk of having contaminants in the bottle is quite high if we don’t stop it up tightly.
Other food items in the pantry and cupboard might contaminate the vinegar, especially if their microbes start growing mold. They can also harbor bacteria. So, you should be sure to look out for such occurrences.
Before you start using any old bottle of ACV, make sure to check the texture. If it seems lumpy, the right choice will be to throw out the liquid and get a fresh bottle.
Diluting the ACV with water will drop its acidity and increase its pH level. This will also increase the chances of the ACV going bad.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad When Cloudy?
Apple cider vinegar is made through a fermentation process, which makes something known as “the mother.” If you’re looking for genuine and real apple cider vinegar, you should look for the words, “with the mother” on the label.
“The mother” is a stringy, floating substance that’s at the end of the ACV bottle. It might look quite disgusting, something like mucus or fungus inside the liquid. However, this is how you know that vinegar is effective as this substance is full of probiotics.
Some pasteurized and filtered versions of ACV won’t have the mother in the jar or bottle but it might eventually form over time. The hazy and strange appearance of the mother might still put some people off. If you’re one of them, you can try filtering it before consumption.
In any case, the change here is harmless. You can even shake up the bottle a little so that the mother distributes evenly. This practice will also maintain the quality of the ACV.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad When Open?
After you’ve opened the apple cider vinegar bottle, you may ask “does ACV go bad when it’s opened?” This might be a special concern if you notice the vinegar changing color after you’ve opened the bottle a few times. However, this change doesn’t mean that the ACV is going bad.
When you open the bottle of ACV, it gets exposed to oxygen each time. This can cause the liquid inside to become cloudy, less clear than before, and even separate a bit. There might also be fibers or sediments forming at the bottom.
Keep in mind that oxygenation will also release sulfur dioxide and citric acid. These are two vinegar preservations. So, while opening up a bottle of ACV might change the taste or effect on a recipe, the nutritional value and shelf life remain mostly unchanged.
If you’re using such an old ACV in a recipe, be sure to smell and taste it beforehand to gauge the effect.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad When Refrigerated?
Refrigeration has nothing to do with making apple cider vinegar go bad. In fact, its shelf life might increase when you put it in the refrigerator. However, this definitely doesn’t mean that it needs refrigeration.
Apple cider vinegar does best when you put it in a dark place that’s also cool and dry. Preferably, it should be away from heat, direct sunlight, and any contaminants.
When you store the ACV properly, regardless of refrigeration, it will have an almost infinite shelf life. Still, we need to take care to store that bottle in the right way.
If you take your apple cider vinegar orally on a daily basis (after diluting in some water), you might like it to be chilled. Other than this reason, though, there’s no argument for keeping the ACV in or out of the refrigerator.
In any case, though, make sure that you’ve tightly closed its cap when the bottle isn’t in use.
What Is the General Expiration Date?
If you store the bottle correctly, the ACV should last for a lifetime without ever going bad. That’s because it’s a self-preserving liquid. This might sound confusing, with the expiration or “best by” date on your bottle.
Most brands that supply ACV use such dates on their bottles but also convey that the liquid is useful for several years after that as well.
However, the dates will tell you that the vinegar is good for several years. It’s not harmful to consume ACV after that point but the taste and look will be compromised as well as the nutritional profile.
Since ACV is an acidic environment, you should remember that microbes and bacteria cannot grow there.
However, do watch out for a fizz or hissing sound when you open the bottle. This would indicate that the vinegar inside is too far gone. That’s when it’s time to drain it away and get a new bottle.
How to Store This Precious Vinegar
Just like cheese and condiments, apple cider vinegar also deserves to be correctly stored. The correct way to store your apple cider vinegar is in a cool place away from direct heat or glaring sunlight.
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The place should ideally be dark. So, go for a pantry, cupboard, or any other place that fits the bill. In addition, the vinegar should stay in its original bottle.
If you have a choice, though, you should go for a glass bottle that’s of a dark color. This is also a good tip if you want to keep the bottle near the stove and within reach while cooking.
When you’re not pouring out the apple cider vinegar, the bottle is to stay shut and sealed as tightly as possible. The original cap of the bottle will usually do the trick; if you don’t have a proper seal, put the ACV into an airtight glass container.
Taking these precautions will ensure that the concentration of the apple cider vinegar stays strong and effective. These steps will also stave off any dust and cross-contamination.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad Enough to Make You Sick?
The good news is that apple cider vinegar rarely gets so bad that it can actively harm anyone consuming it. However, don’t make the mistake of stocking up on several bottles at once.
If you’re consuming apple cider vinegar on a daily basis with the goal of improving your health, you can get enough for two years at the maximum. This will give you the nutrition you’re aiming for in the long run.
There’s a lot of acidity in apple cider vinegar; after all, it’s made from fermented apples. Bacteria cannot grow in such an environment.
So, there’s no need to worry if the bottle remains tightly sealed when you’re not using it. The only real risk is present if some dust or microbes from other foods enter the bottle.
However, do keep in mind that ACV is a sort of acid. Therefore, it might not help with all kinds of digestive problems. If you’re experiencing a lot of acidity, begin with a tiny bit and see whether the results are positive before moving on.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad If There’s a Lot of Sediment Inside?
If your bottle of ACV has some fiber-like sediment forming at the bottom, there’s probably nothing to worry about. This is usually the mother reforming, which is a substance full of probiotics and a result of the fermenting process.
On the other hand, if you feel like there is just too much sediment in the bottle, it might be better to through the bottle away and consume a new one instead. It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when dealing with old ingredients.
Another way to tell if the apple cider vinegar is no more worth consuming is to taste it. After some time has passed, the flavor of the vinegar is intense and will be quite acidic. Within a few years, though, the intensity of the ACV might go away altogether.
For both changes, you should do a taste test to gauge how it will change your recipe or whether you can digest it or not.
What Else Should You Know about Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is among the healthiest ingredients in your kitchen. Even if you think your ACV is too old to consume orally, it can still come in handy for cleaning counters, silverware, and many other things.
After diluting, apple cider vinegar also works well for the skin. Some even use it to rinse their hair for balancing its pH levels.
If you do decide to consume any form of ACV orally, you should keep in mind that its acidic nature might make it unpalatable. That’s why many people like to dilute their ACV in water before consuming it. If you do this, though, remember that this can lessen its efficacy.
Other uses for consuming ACV include using it in marinades, salad dressings, food preservatives, canning, pickling vegetables, etc.
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Its health benefits include lowering blood pressure, controlling blood sugar, spurring on healthy weight loss, killing off E. coli bacteria, and many more.
Certain experts even say that since the fermentation process continues, the apple cider vinegar might be even safer after the expiry date passes.
This is also why it’s better to shun any pasteurized version of ACV and go straight for the raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized kind. This will get you the health benefits you deserve.
Have the Good Bottle of ACV!
When you’re asking “does apple cider vinegar go bad?” there are several steps to answering this question.
First, you have to determine whether your ACV is real or not. Think of the “best by” date on the ACV bottles as the point when the quality, texture, and flavors of the vinegar will start to degenerate.
Once you have a real ACV on hand, you’re good to go. Store those precious bottles properly, and you probably won’t have to worry about your apple cider vinegar. There are some high-quality and healthy options out there; grab a bottle and start repairing the benefits!
How do you decide when to throw out your apple cider vinegar? Let us know in the comments below.