Authentic balsamic vinegar is dark, concentrated vinegar that has a rich, sweet, and sour aroma. The main ingredient is reduced grape must that was left to age for several years in the wooden barrels. Some expensive varieties of balsamic vinegar were left to mature in wooden barrels for over 25 years.
Since it has a unique flavor, people either love it or hate it.
The problem is that this condiment is not so very popular and it is only used in small quantities, for example for preparing balsamic vinaigrette dressings for salads. If you do not feast on salads that much often, the chances are high that your bottle of balsamic vinegar will sit in the cupboard for months maybe even years, which will naturally make you question yourself how long does balsamic vinegar last and can it go bad.
From my personal experience, I can guarantee you that it will stay in good condition for years to come if you store it properly. My bottle was opened two years ago, and the taste is still intense as the day we bought it.
Read More: Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?
How To Store Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar does not require any special care; you should store it like any other vinegar you use, and we know that storing vinegar, in general, is an effortless and easiest thing to do. You do want your balsamic vinegar to stay in the best possible shape and to retain its quality, so avoid exposing it to heat and light since it will affect the taste. The best place to store it is in the pantry in a cool, dry area, away from light.
The thing that people often forget or they just don’t pay much attention to is the way they seal the bottle after opening it. It should always be tightly sealed when not used. The vinegar contains caramel, red wine vinegar, and grape juice flavor, so if you do not seal your bottle properly, some contaminants might find their way in and spoil your vinegar.
Also, if you keep a balsamic vinegar bottle open, it will slowly start evaporating, it will get more concentrated, and the process of crystallization will start. This is a very natural process that also happens with honey, but the difference is that you can use honey after it’s crystallized, but not balsamic vinegar.
The good thing is that vinegar isn’t the best place for bacteria and other microorganisms to grow and develop, considering the acidic environment. However, it can still happen if you do not store it properly.
Can You Store The Vinegar In The Fridge?
Yes, you can, but there is no need for it. But if you live in an area that is very hot throughout the year, keeping it in the fridge is mandatory. In that case, you want to make sure you can maintain your temperature at 59°F to 78° F and don’t let it go up to 104°F too often since the too cold temperature is harmful to the vinegar as well. The colder temperatures can cause changes in flavor with time, and humidity will cause condensation inside, which will dilute the vinegar.
It is also imperative to seal the cap tightly even when you store it in the fridge since the vinegar will lose its taste if the cap is a loose fit.
The Shelf Life
Now it’s time to talk about shelf life. The first thing you must know is that there are two kinds of balsamic vinegar on the market: traditional balsamic vinegar and balsamic vinegar. This might sound wired to you, but hear me out.
The traditional balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden barrels for years (from 12 to 25), and it will cost you more. The prices typically range from $40 per 8.5 fl oz bottle.
The commercial balsamic vinegar, the one without the word “traditional” is very popular since it tastes “real” and comes at a much lower price. The production process takes a few months. The manufacturers must add additional ingredients to simulate the taste of the “real” balsamic vinegar.
The shelf life for traditional balsamic vinegar is expected to be 10+ years if you do not forget to tightly seal your bottle after every use, which is not so difficult, isn’t it? This kind of vinegar gets better with age, which means if you properly store it, the vinegar will age nicely, and the flavor will enhance over time.
The commercially balsamic vinegar usually comes with a best by date, and it is about 3 to 4 years from the production date. To be clear, the best by date will inform you how long the vinegar should remain at peak quality, and the vinegar won’t go bad right after that date.
The commercially prepared vinegar is advertised to last for years, but the problem is that they don’t age well. There is one more thing we need to make clear when we talk about commercial products. The balsamic vinegar is safe to use up to 10 years after the production date, which is excellent, but that does not mean it should be in the best shape for all that time. The most important thing about balsamic vinegar is the quality, and you must be aware it will change with time.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure you taste your balsamic vinegar from time to time to avoid unpleasant situations.
How To Recognize A Spoiled Balsamic Vinegar?
As I already said, balsamic vinegar will not turn bad unless stored in a bottle that is not tightly sealed or there is no cap at all.
The problem is that the vinegar with time becomes cloudy, which is quite reasonable, but for someone who is inexperienced, this might look like it turned bad. If this happened to you, you should not worry the liquid is still safe to use.
Of course, if you are having doubts about the bottle you have, you should look for mold first. If you can’t find any mold, the next thing to do is to smell and taste the vinegar. When you open the bottle of your vinegar, and the smell is rancid, discard it immediately.
If there is no smell, it is time to taste the vinegar so you can be sure it is entirely safe to use. The taste you are looking for is mildly acidic with a bit of sweetness, but if the vinegar tastes harsh, it is probably spoiled, and you should throw it away.
Balsamic vinegar has vast health benefits that can help you boost and maintain your overall health condition. First, it is very useful in lowering your cholesterol. Actually, this vinegar will help you to maintain and lower cholesterol as well as reduce the possibility of developing clogged arteries since the antioxidants in it help to reduce the production of toxic cells.
It is also very good for your digestion because the main component of balsamic is acetic acid which contains probiotic bacteria. Those bacteria help you have healthy digestion and improve your gut health.
Since it does not contain fats it is suitable for maintaining or losing weight. But this does not mean consuming it every day without any change in your diet will make you magically drop some pounds.
Balsamic vinegar contains grapes, and grapes are great for improving blood circulation, which can prevent cardiac arrest. It is also anti glycemic, so it can help you control your insulin and reduce the risk of diabetes.
It is an anti-aging ingredient as well since antioxidants enhance cell growth. Avoid premature aging of your skin by consuming balsamic vinegar often. The acetic acid, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds can make your skin look brighter.
Let’s be plain balsamic vinegar is quite an expensive condiment (well, if you buy the “real” one), and it would be a shame if you waste it and let it turn bad. I know that it can be pretty hard considering it does not have some widespread use, but if you handle it with care and store it in optimal conditions, you can be sure your vinegar will last for years. Don’t forget you will be rewarded with enhanced rich flavor with every year passing by.