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What is the shelf life of apple cider vinegar?

chocolatetartguy Jun 14, 2013 12:13 PM

I was cooking at my mother's house and rummaging through her cupboards for ingredients. She has a bottle of Heinz cider vinegar that smells OK, but I wonder. Is it the nature of vinegar that it lasts forever?

I can't say when it was last used in cooking, 10 years, maybe more? I did use it a few years ago to try to stave off ants that were attacking my freezer after the seal malfunctioned. Someone told me that ants didn't like to crawl where vinegar was wiped. That was not true.

  1. a
    alwayshungrygal Jun 21, 2013 08:06 PM

    I have bottles of both apple cider vinegar and regular white vinegar that are easily over 26, maybe 28 years old. I know they are that old because one has the label of a store I used to shop in when I lived in LA in 1984, and I think the other one is from around the same time. The apple cider bottle looks like there's sediment on the bottom, the other one looks fine. I don't see any reason to throw them out...yet.

    1. k
      kseiverd Jun 15, 2013 05:04 AM

      I'm gonna go with "forever"!?! Know that archeologists have unearthed honey from ruins that was edible. Wouldn't be surprised if vinegars have been found in ancient places, too.

      And it definitely does NOT need to take up precious space in the fridge.

      1 Reply
      1. re: kseiverd
        1sweetpea Jun 21, 2013 10:56 AM

        My raw apple cider vinegar has a best before date. When I purchase it, the date is usually 3-4 years in the future. I've never had an open bottle sit around that long, but it's fine, even after a year or two. Tastes and looks the same. Let taste be your guide.

      2. Gio Jun 15, 2013 04:49 AM

        I use Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar that comes with the 'Mother' and is not filtered out. It's delicious and very healthful! I buy it in our local supermarket.

        1. tcamp Jun 14, 2013 06:09 PM

          Yep, I'm gonna go with years. It is pretty acidic. What were you planning to do with the vinegar?

          1. LindaWhit Jun 14, 2013 12:23 PM

            Oh and in case it grows a "mother":

            What is “Mother”?

            “Mother” of vinegar will naturally occur in vinegar products as the result of the vinegar bacteria itself. Mother is actually cellulose (a natural carbohydrate which is the fiber in foods like celery and lettuce) produced by the harmless vinegar bacteria. Today, most manufacturers pasteurize their product before bottling to prevent these bacteria from forming “mother” while sitting on the retail shelf.

            After opening, you may notice “mother” beginning to form. Vinegar containing “mother” is not harmful or spoiled. Just remove the substance by filtering and continue to enjoy the product.

            6 Replies
            1. re: LindaWhit
              Harters Jun 15, 2013 04:10 AM

              I wish I'd known that last month, Linda.

              I had a bottle of cider vinegar, made by a small local producer, and I just assumed it must have "gone off", so I binned it.

              1. re: Harters
                LindaWhit Jun 15, 2013 04:52 AM

                Awww, bummer, Harters! Probably without pasteurization in the local product, the mother was easily formed. Yup, just filter through cheesecloth-lined strainer, and you're good to go again.

                1. re: LindaWhit
                  JMF Jun 21, 2013 09:38 AM

                  Vinegars with an live, active mother improve with age.

                  1. re: JMF
                    LindaWhit Jun 21, 2013 11:03 AM

                    How? And the mother makes the vinegar cloudy, so I think that's probably why people strain it out.

                    1. re: LindaWhit
                      Gio Jun 21, 2013 11:18 AM

                      Linda, see my post downthread:


                      BTW: I buy the Bragg's at the Reading MB...

                      1. re: LindaWhit
                        JMF Jun 21, 2013 02:41 PM

                        Mother doesn't make the vinegar cloudy. It collects on top, and if it dies it sinks to the bottom. I make dozens of vinegars with live mother from wine, beer, and hard cider, and they aren't cloudy.

                        Live mother is like live yeast in a beer, it keeps the vinegar growing and changing. Un-pasteurized vinegar evolves like a wine does.

              2. LindaWhit Jun 14, 2013 12:22 PM


                "How Long Does Vinegar Last?

                The Vinegar Institute conducted studies to find out and confirmed that vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite. Because of its acid nature, vinegar is self-preserving and does not need refrigeration. White distilled vinegar will remain virtually unchanged over an extended period of time. And, while some changes can be observed in other types of vinegars, such as color changes or the development of a haze or sediment, this is only an aesthetic change. The product can still be used and enjoyed with confidence."

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