Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does It Last - Public Goods Blog

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad? How Long Does It Last

You may have heard about apple cider vinegar and the many ways it could benefit your health and overall livelihood.

organic apple cider vinegar bottle
Shop at Public Goods: Apple Cider Vinegar ($4.00)

However, we all know that keeping up daily routines can be difficult. Whether it’s exercising or trying to lose weight, sometimes life just gets in the way.

Perhaps you stored some apple cider vinegar a few years ago and forgot about it, leaving it to collect dust in the back of your pantry. Like most food products in your kitchen, the bottle of vinegar may have an expiration date indicating that it has lived past its shelf life.

Your first reaction may be to throw it away, but wait! That vinegar might still be perfectly fine for you to consume or use.

To properly explain how long apple cider vinegar lasts, we must first decipher what it is and how it’s made.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Essentially, apple cider vinegar is a vinegar that is made from fermented apple cider. It’s known to have a highly acidic flavor, and is commonly used as an ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, food preservatives and chutneys.

Commonly abbreviated to ACV, this popular vinegar is a versatile pantry staple with an endless assortment of purported health benefits, including stabilizing blood sugar, lowering blood pressure, killing E. coli and accelerating weight loss.

As an all-natural and cost-effective ingredient, this apple-based vinegar has a mild taste that can be mixed with olive oil and maple syrup for the perfect salad dressing. Or, it can be diluted and incorporated into your self-care routine as a DIY face toner or pH-balancing hair rinse. Around the house, apple cider vinegar can make effective all-natural cleaners for just about everything.

Over time, if you forget to use your apple cider vinegar, the liquid becomes cloudy and there’s rust-colored sediment at the bottom of the bottle. You open it and it smells, well, as pungent as it always had.

apple cider vinegar, product label, ingredients

Has it gone bad? How can you tell? To answer that question, let’s take a look at how this vinegar made.

How Is Apple Cider Vinegar Made?

Apple cider comes from mashed up apples. It can be pasteurized and filtered into golden, pure apple juice, or be left as raw, hazy apple cider. If the cider is allowed to ferment, then yeast converts some of the juice sugars into alcohol, a process that can take one to six months and will result in the boozy cider we all know and love.

Typically, apple cider contains 1% to 8% alcohol. To transform apple cider into apple cider vinegar, a second fermentation process converts the alcohol to vinegar with acetobacter, a type of good bacteria that turns alcohol into acetic acid, providing the vinegar with its characteristic sour, acidic quality.

How Long Does Apple Cider Vinegar Last?

While the look, smell, and flavor of apple cider vinegar can change over time, its shelf life is indefinite, according to studies conducted by the Vinegar Institute. Even though some jars have listed expiration dates ranging between two to five years, apple cider vinegar is still seen as safe to consume after the expiration date.

According to a 2017 study, fermented foods and beverages are known to be safer than unfermented counterparts. Due to its acidic level and the fermentation process, common bad bacteria such as salmonella, e. Coli, or staphylococcus aureus can only survive a few hours in the acidity of apple cider and can’t multiply. In fact, some experts believe that the ongoing fermentation process means that the vinegar could become even safer once it surpasses its expiration date.

The fermentation process produces a substance called the “mother,” which is included in high-quality bottles of apple cider vinegar. While it looks like a gross, stringy mucus or phlegm that settles at the bottom of the jar, the “mother” is actually composed of probiotics. It is one of the healthiest benefits of this vinegar. (If you’ve ever looked into the health benefits of kombucha, you know that the “mother” of kombucha is super healthy too!)

Because it can grow within a bottle of apple cider vinegar and has a hazy, unpleasant appearance, a lot of apple cider vinegar manufacturers actually pasteurize their vinegar to prevent the “mother” from forming. Don’t worry, though. This change in appearance is perfectly safe. It’s recommended to give your bottle a shake to redistribute the “mother” evenly throughout the vinegar.

We’ve established that apple cider vinegar remains safe to use even after the expiration date, but it’s still important to properly store it to retain the highest quality for an extended period of time.

Does Apple Cider Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

No. You don’t need to worry about putting apple cider vinegar in the refrigerator after opening it, but it should be placed in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and heat.

How to Properly Store Apple Cider Vinegar

Although apple cider vinegar has a relatively indefinite shelf life, it’s still important to store it in the proper setting after use.

Make sure you tightly twist the cap closed after using your vinegar. While refrigeration is not necessary, you can still store it there if you prefer your vinegar chilled.

When you store apple cider vinegar in the right conditions, it should retain its quality for about two years. But remember, it should still be safe to consume even when it loses that freshness.

So, Can I Consume That Years-Old Bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar?

If you have an old bottle of apple cider vinegar collecting dust on your shelf, don’t worry too much. It should be safe to consume. However, keep in mind that the vinegar will likely taste a lot more acidic than a freshly-bought bottle. If you don’t like the taste of older apple cider vinegar, you can always use it for cleaning purposes instead. One thing’s for sure though — there’s no reason to throw that bottle away!

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Comments (19)

  • The Mother in my apple cider vinegar was black when I bought it. Is it still safe to consume?

    • Hi Wendy, great question! The mother in Apple Cider Vinegar can be a bit darker than the rest of the bottle, but it doesn’t meant that the vinegar has been spoiled. Apple Cider Vinegar typically does not go bad, but instead will become more acidic over time. However, if you’re not sure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution! The great thing about ACV is it’s versatility, and you could still use it for cleaning if you’re worried about consuming it.

      Thanks for reading, we appreciate you! If you haven’t tried us out yet, feel free to use BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order. 😊

      • I made my patch when I squeezed it after fermentation it was so acidity but after more than a month of expose it to the air its not vinegary anymore but it has the mother on top the question is is it safe to consume?

  • My apple cider vinegar has formed that ugly looking film. I put it threw a mesh colander to throw away. Do I have to put it back in the bottle? Will the balance be alright without its mothers film?Christine

    • Hey Christine, your apple cider vinegar should definitely still be safe for consumption without its mother! The separation won’t make much of a difference if you’re using the vinegar for cooking, but you may be missing out on some of the mother’s health benefits.

      If you haven’t given us a try yet, please feel free to use BLOG15 for $15 off your first order. Thanks for checking out our blog and sharing your thoughts with us!

    • Hey there! Apple cider vinegar has a shelf life of at least 2 years, but is often still good long after that. If you dilute it, it shouldn’t change the shelf life of the vinegar! It just makes it less harsh for your skin, so you can get all of the benefits without any risk.

      Thanks for your comment, we appreciate you! If you’d like, you can use BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order with us. 🍎✨

  • Great and informative article – thank you! One question – what is the difference between the sediment at the bottom of my vinegar, and the floating, gelatin-like mother at the top of my vinegar?

    • Hi Emily! Great question. The mother can separate a little bit as the vinegar ages, so you may notice some sediment at the bottom of your bottle. You can give your bottle a shake to redistribute the mother evenly throughout, so you can take advantage of all of the health benefits! 😁

      Thanks so much for commenting! If you’d like to give our products a try, feel free to use code BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order. 🌱

      • But the question was about the difference between that sediment at the bottom of the bottle and the floating gelatinous material at the top. What’s the difference?

        • Hi Roberto! It’s all a part of the same mother. The mother can separate into different parts (enzymes, probiotics, etc) so after a while, some of it may settle, while some of it may float to the top. If you give the bottle a good shake, it will evenly distribute the mother throughout your ACV so you can enjoy all of its benefits.

          Thanks so much for reaching out to us! Feel free to use code BLOG15 at checkout for $15 off of your first order with us. 🙌

    • Great question! Closing your bottle should not kill the mother and the good bacteria inside of the Apple Cider Vinegar. In fact, closing the lid tightly will ensure proper storage conditions so your ACV will last longer!

      Thanks for commenting! If you haven’t tried us out yet, use code BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order with us. 🌱

    • Diluting with water shouldn’t impact the shelf life of your ACV, so long as it’s stored correctly!

      Thanks so much for giving our blog a read. If you need to stock up on some extra ACV, use code BLOG15 for $15 off of your first order with us. 🍏✨

  • I stored my ACV in the refrigerator for like 2 years now unopened, is it still safe for consumption? Thanks.

    • ACV stored in a refrigerator unopened has a shelf life of 5 years, maybe more depending on the storage conditions. You should be all set to enjoy it!

      Thanks so much for reaching out to us about this. Feel free to give our goods a try by using BLOG15 at checkout for $15 off of your first purchase 😊🙌

  • I’ve noticed that when I put about a half a cup of apple cider vinegar with the mother in cold water in the kitchen sink with some live green veggies like kale or celery or rainbow chard, that it will within an hour make it very stiff and fresh again. I was wondering do you think that Apple cider vinegar used on your face And neck could have the same results as these veggies, as a skin tightener from the vinegar?

    • Great question! ACV is an astringent, so it helps to kill unwanted bacteria and microorganisms on your face, while increasing blood flow. It also helps to reduce the PH of your skin, and can minimize the look of pores! We can’t say if it’ll help to tighten your skin, but it certainly has a ton of benefits. Just be sure to dilute the ACV, as the acidity can be harmful to your face otherwise.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read our blog! Feel free to grab some ACV on us by using code BLOG15 at checkout. It takes off $15 from your first order with us, so you can get some ACV and then some!🌱🍏

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