Apple cider vinegar is the ultimate long-lasting preservative. It’s perfect for cooking and comes into its own when it’s time to bake, but does apple cider vinegar go bad?
The answer to that is: no, not really! Apple cider vinegar is designed to last, and whether it’s homemade or store-bought, the fermented apple cider shelf life is always a long one. Like all things, though, apple cider vinegar eventually does go “bad” no matter how well you look after it.
But how long does apple cider vinegar last before it needs to be poured away? That’s the question we’ll be answering in this article. Keep reading to find out everything you ever needed to know about apple cider vinegar!
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?
Apple cider vinegar has been used by bakers and chefs for as long as there have been apples to press. Apple cider vinegar is prepared by allowing apples and sugar to ferment in water for several weeks. It’s similar to the way that apple cider is prepared, but if you leave apple cider for too long, it turns into apple cider vinegar!
After several weeks fermenting away, the apple cider vinegar has a bitter, vinegary, and incredibly acidic taste. This makes it perfect for use in baking, where it leaves a strong taste behind, or for use as a sauce or salad dressing. Apple cider vinegar can preserve food (it’s used in chutneys or for pickling purposes), and it can be added to sauces, broths, stews, and many more recipes.
Increasingly, apple cider vinegar is also marketed as a health product too. It’s said to be able to lower blood sugar levels, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, and even help the heart and prevent cancer!
And one of the main reasons why apple cider vinegar works so well in these varied roles is its impressive longevity. So, does apple cider vinegar go bad? Yes, apple cider vinegar does eventually go bad – it changes color and taste, but is still safe to consume.
However, because it’s prepared as a preservative, your vinegar lasts several years before that occurs.
How Long Does Apple Cider Vinegar Last?
So, you’ve just used your trusty apple peeler to peel a big bag of apples for making apple cider vinegar. You’ve put them in a glass jar, with a little sugar, and have left the mixture to do its thing and turn into vinegar. Once your apple cider vinegar is good to go, how long is it actually going to last?
The answer varies, as it really does depend on the conditions that the apple cider vinegar is stored under. This is a long-lasting preservative, and you’re going to be able to store your homemade apple cider vinegar for at least 5 years. In most cases, it’s going to last longer than this too.
So, does apple cider vinegar expire if you buy it from the store? The answer is also yes – eventually. Apple cider vinegar from the store will also have an expiration date.
This is really just a guideline, though. The producer has to be careful with their labeling, but the reality is that even an “expired” bottle of apple cider vinegar probably has more than a few years left in it!
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Need to Be Refrigerated?
You can extend the “shelf life” of your apple cider vinegar (both homemade or store-bought) by following a few simple rules.
As we’ve discussed, apple cider vinegar does not go bad immediately after being opened – this process takes years! It is, however, incredibly important that you keep the apple cider vinegar closed when in storage. Keep the lid on tight, and it will last much longer.
You might think that storing apple cider vinegar in the fridge helps, but the reality is that apple cider vinegar does not need to be refrigerated. It’s perfectly fine outside, but you do need to store it in a cupboard – this keeps the apple cider vinegar away from any direct sunlight, which can shorten the lifespan of the preservative.
Can You Freeze Apple Cider Vinegar?
Freezing apple cider vinegar really isn’t necessary. Remember, this is a preservative – apple cider vinegar is going to last years in the cupboard.
There’s very little point in using up space in the freezer (that could be holding other great things that actually need freezing) when it’s totally unnecessary.
Some people do like to freeze “ice cubes'' of apple cider vinegar. These can then be dropped into drinks, and you can enjoy the added health benefits of apple cider – but again, this is not common!
How Do You Know if Apple Cider Vinegar Has Gone Bad?
If you’re worried about the state of your apple cider vinegar, then it’s often easy to tell how much it’s aged. As apple cider vinegar gets older, it undergoes distinct changes in color and overall appearance as more oxygen gets into the mixture.
Different particles begin to separate, and the apple cider vinegar begins to change tones. The bottom may be darker and the top of the bottle lighter. Sediment can start to collect at the bottom, too.
The reality, though, is that these changes that we see as “bad” only affect the taste and look of the apple cider vinegar. Although we might say it’s gone bad, the apple cider vinegar actually remains self-preserving and is still safe to consume!
How Long Does Apple Cider Last?
Apple cider is very similar to apple cider vinegar. If you leave apple cider for too long, it turns into vinegar as it continues to ferment!
Many people wonder whether to use their apples for apple cider vs apple juice, if they are looking to prepare a tasty drink. Apple cider can last as long as apple juice if kept in the fridge (about a week), so it depends if you prefer a sweet juice or a more acidic cider.
And how long is apple cider good for before it starts to turn vinegary? Again, about a week! After that, you can let your apple cider turn into apple cider vinegar rather than letting it go to waste!
Is Long Term Apple Cider Vinegar Consumption Safe?
We’ve mentioned the health benefits of apple cider vinegar numerous times already. But are there any long-term problems to consider if regularly consuming apple cider vinegar?
The answer is, not really. Apple cider vinegar in large quantities might upset your pH levels and digestive tract, but in small quantities, it’s not a problem.
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad? The Final Say!
To conclude, we can safely say that apple cider has an incredibly long shelf life. While it might go “bad” and change color and taste, as a preservative, it never technically goes off (although you likely won’t enjoy the taste of a ten-year-old bottle!).
You can keep your apple cider fresher for longer by storing it in a cool, dry space, and keeping the lid tight! If you’re planning on turning apples into cider, then why not bookmark our guide to apple cider vinegar?