The Shelf Life of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a versatile food ingredient and it has health benefits, too. But a little bit goes a long way. So you could end up with a partly-used bottle sitting in your pantry for a long while. Once you buy apple cider vinegar, how long is it good for?

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

You make apple cider vinegar from crushed, fermented apples. The fermentation process has two steps. First, the apples are crushed and yeast is added to speed up the fermentation process, so the sugar converts into alcohol. Then the alcohol is processed and becomes vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar differs from other kinds of vinegar because it contains acetic acid, which contributes to its slightly sweet, tangy taste.

If the label says "raw" or "unprocessed," this means the vinegar isn't filtered or heat-treated. In this type of vinegar, you may see a murky, stringy substance floating at the bottom. That doesn’t mean itr has gone bad. This is called "mother" and it’s just a byproduct of fermentation. It contains “good” bacteria and healthy enzymes.

How Long Is the Shelf Life of Apple Cider Vinegar?

The shelf life of apple cider vinegar is two years unopened, and one year once you’ve broken the seal on the bottle. You don't have to refrigerate apple cider vinegar once it's opened. Instead, store it in a pantry or cabinet, away from direct sunlight.

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. Because of this, it’s unlikely to be contaminated with pathogens. But store it properly to extend the shelf life.

What about products made with apple cider vinegar? Things like salad dressing or marinade may have a shorter shelf life. That’s because they’re likely to contain ingredients that don’t stay fresh without refrigeration.

Apple cider vinegar that remains unpasteurized carries a risk of bacteria like E. coli or salmonella. Before you use apple cider vinegar, check that it's pasteurized properly. Most store-bought apple cider vinegar is pasteurized, but check the label to make sure.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Harvard Medical School: “Apple cider vinegar diet: Does it really work?”

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE: “Making Apple Cider.” 

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: “Are there health benefits to apple cider vinegar?”

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