HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Share your food adventure
TELL US

Does vinegar ever go bad?

t
the dog ate my homework Jan 29, 2009 04:05 PM

I just found a old bottle of fancy schmancy Italian vinegar, shoved in the back of a cabinet. We're talking as much as seven years old. It looks and smells fine, though there is some sediment that has settled in the bottom of the bottle. It's fine to use, isn't it?

  1. jen kalb Jan 30, 2009 01:20 PM

    Most likely its just fine to use - if it tastes good, use it.

    filter it if there is sediment and it bothers you. Just like wine.

    There is a lot of discussion about mother or "vinegar eels" forming in vinegar in this thread. Well, Ive had it form in commercial vinegar (not american source) in the past, so dont assume its impossible. As discussed it does not make the vinegar bad, but what Ive found is that the vinegar flavor and tang tend to get weaker and weaker if there is a sizeable mother growing in the bottle. I dont know what the process is, but Id be inclined to filter it out, unless you want to make additional vinegar - in which case it likely needs to be "fed" with fruit juice, wine, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb
      s
      Sinicle Jan 30, 2009 06:49 PM

      I have also had it form in commercial vinegar, in this case a sherry vinegar produced in Spain and bought in a local US supermarket.

    2. kchurchill5 Jan 29, 2009 07:22 PM

      I wouldn't say indefinitely, I had some once go bad, but I just taste. If ok ... there you go. I keep mine in the fridge too. Just me.

      1. p
        PAO Jan 29, 2009 07:17 PM

        My Cook's Illustrated just came today. They say commercially made vinegar keeps indefinitely. The sediment is harmless cellulose that can be strained throug a coffee filter set inside a fine mesh strainer. The Vinegar Institute concurs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PAO
          Robin Joy Jan 29, 2009 11:20 PM

          "The Vinegar Institute"......Such a body exists?

        2. kchurchill5 Jan 29, 2009 06:42 PM

          Taste ... if ok use. I have had the same thing.

          1. c oliver Jan 29, 2009 04:53 PM

            I've had the experience of red wine vinegar (don't know if that matters) developing a "film" down at the bottom of the bottle. But it was alright for cooking I hope) which was all I was using it for.

            1. alkapal Jan 29, 2009 04:37 PM

              i'd use it if it tastes ok. i can't see what would go "bad"....

              11 Replies
              1. re: alkapal
                Demented Jan 29, 2009 06:14 PM

                I make vinegar, have never had it go bad or heard of it going bad.

                Unfiltered vinegar can develop vinegar eels, even then it's still okay to use. If you don't like the look of the sediment, filter it through cheese cloth or a coffee filter.

                1. re: Demented
                  c oliver Jan 29, 2009 06:19 PM

                  Vinegar eels? Is that the "film" I'm talking about. It's a semi-solid product. I don't know how to describe it.

                  1. re: Demented
                    alkapal Jan 29, 2009 06:41 PM

                    ah, an eel! i see it!

                    demented, would you please weigh in here on this thread, re my query on vinegar, yeast, etc.? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5918...

                    1. re: alkapal
                      Demented Jan 30, 2009 10:04 AM

                      I misspoke, filtering has nothing to do with it. Vinegar eels (and mother of vinegar) can only form in vinegar that has not been pasteurized.

                      Mother of vinegar is a combination of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria, that forms a jelly like membrane on top of vinegar in a cask or crock.

                      Acetic acid bacteria convert alcohol into acetic acid in much the same way yeast convert sugar into alcohol.

                      Vinegar eel's are a type of small animal that can develop in raw vinegar, not really something you want in your vinegar crock, but they can be filtered out.

                      Commercial vinegar is pasteurized, to prevent the formation of mother of vinegar and vinegar eels.

                      1. re: Demented
                        d
                        DaisyM Jan 30, 2009 10:33 AM

                        Demented:

                        How do you know so much about vinegar??? I truly thought you were kidding about "vinegar eels"...but just looked it up and they really do exist. I'm just amazed that anyone knows that much about vinegar!

                        1. re: DaisyM
                          kchurchill5 Jan 30, 2009 10:37 AM

                          Internet, amazing what you can learn. I actually knew some of that. But I have to admit. To learn it I probably looked it up before myself, lol.

                          1. re: kchurchill5
                            d
                            DaisyM Jan 30, 2009 10:41 AM

                            I'm going to throw out all of the old bottles of vinegar...I fear the vinegar eels!

                          2. re: DaisyM
                            Demented Jan 30, 2009 12:02 PM

                            I've been brewing beer, making mead, wine and vinegar for years.

                            You needn't worry about the old vinegar, if you bought it in the store, it was pasteurized before it was bottled. Thats the law.

                            I noticed these little worms swimming in one of my vinegar crocks one day, a little research lead me to information on vinegar eels.

                            I strained that batch of vinegar, brought it to a boil, let it cool and used it with no ill effects.

                            1. re: Demented
                              d
                              DaisyM Jan 30, 2009 12:12 PM

                              I just want you to know that I completely in awe that you knew about vinegar eels AND that they even exist!

                          3. re: Demented
                            Phoo_d Jan 30, 2009 01:10 PM

                            Wow. I don't think I'll ever look at vinegar the same way again. Who knew? I think I could win a few bets with that piece of knowledge!
                            Phoo-D
                            http://www.phoo-d.com

                            1. re: Demented
                              alkapal Jan 30, 2009 01:42 PM

                              vinegar eels are not animals, to be sure...

                      Show Hidden Posts