Balsamic vinegar is one of the easiest kitchen food items when it comes to storage. It’s one of those things that does not require any attention once you know literally a couple of things about it. We’ll talk about all that in a minute.
The simple answer to the question is that balsamic vinegar doesn’t go bad… almost ever. You just need to store it right to ensure that the condiment does not lose its intense flavor. That’s the only thing to care about. Let’s dig more into that.
How Long Does Balsamic Vinegar Stay Good?
The answer to this question is complicated since how you keep balsamic vinegar affects how long it will last. If you keep it at room temperature, it will stay on top of its game for roughly three years. However, you must properly keep it. Why does that matter?
Avoid exposing it to direct heat or sunshine. Balsamic vinegar should be kept in a dark, reasonably cold cabinet. However, once the bottle has been opened, it needs to be tightly sealed if you want to increase its shelf life.
Now, there is no way to demonstrate this, but if you make balsamic vinegar properly, it may last an unlimited amount of time. However, how it is created, which is beyond of your control, also affects this.
It is self-preserving because of the acidity levels in the vinegar. In fact, it’s the reason why some bottles of balsamic vinegar actually get better over time. But that is also the case when you make it at home. You are more likely to buy a commercial bottle that has the potential to stay in its best shape for up to five years.
You can still use them after five years, but it won’t be as good as a new bottle. Typically, the bottles that are more expensive tend to last longer. For example, if they have Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP) or Tradizionale Denominazione di Origine Protetta (traditional DOP) on the label, they will cost more but also last longer than the other bottles.
How Do I Know When It’s Gone Bad?
Commercially available bottles of balsamic vinegar are not likely to go bad. But if you don’t store them well or if it has been a really long time, the quality starts to go down. You will know this just by looking at the bottle. The vinegar starts to look a little cloudy and the flavor also starts to change. You can still consume the product but the quality won’t be great, as mentioned above.
These bottles do come with a “best before” date on the packaging. What does that mean if it doesn’t go bad? We’ll tell you.
This is added not for the reason of safety in terms of consumption but to tell you how long that particular brand of balsamic vinegar is expected to retain its best quality. You can use it even after this date but it might not taste as good.
Things to Know About Its Shelf Life
Now that we know balsamic vinegar doesn’t actually go bad, let’s talk about what its shelf life means. As long as you store it well and the cap is tightly sealed when not in use, the condiment maintains its quality for the first three years. This is true for all commercial bottles of balsamic vinegar.
The look and feel of the bottle are different things. Sometimes, you will notice the color change. That means it might look cloudy or there is sediment formed in the bottle. This still doesn’t change the taste, which is great news.
If you’re not sure how long you have had the bottle in the pantry, you can judge whether or not it is good for use by tasting it. If it has not lost its intense flavor, you can still use balsamic vinegar in any dish. You can add it to fruits or pasta to make it better.
Best Way to Store Balsamic Vinegar
You don’t want the bottle anywhere near heat and sunlight. So, cool and dark places are the best spots to store a bottle of balsamic vinegar. If you want to add a little bit of this condiment to a salad, you want to make sure that it is cool. In that case, you can store it in a fridge too.
But if you want to add it to a sauce or a marinade, you want to leave it in the cupboard. That should be good enough. Make sure this is not the cabinet above the oven or stove. Even leaving it next to the stove is a bad idea.
Should I Keep It in the Fridge?
As mentioned before, you don’t necessarily have to do it. Any dark and cool place will do the trick because all you need to make sure of is to keep the taste intact. This is one of the best things about balsamic vinegar.
But as mentioned before, you can keep it in the fridge if you want to add it to salads or generally any kind of recipe involving leaves. This is because it will stay in the same temperature range as the leafy veggies.
This condiment is typically used over roasted meats, salads, and even cheese plates. So, you want to make sure that it adds to the taste of the dish. Balsamic vinegar is also a great addition to certain drinks. You have probably heard of balsamic chicken or mushrooms. The former is an easy meal during the week when you don’t have a lot of time and the latter is a great side dish.
There are also a lot of dessert ideas that are both easy and involve just a smidge of balsamic vinegar. So, once you get used to it, it’s actually hard to keep the bottle around for longer than a year. But you can enjoy the lovely flavor for at least three years if you’ve been reading the storage instructions carefully.
Further Reading: Out Of Balsamic Vinegar? 7 Super-Easy Balsamic Vinegar Substitute Suggestions