Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad?

A bottle of good Balsamic Vinegar is not something you finish in a week (unless you are a crazy consumer of balsamic as I am). And sometimes people, especially when considering buying a more convenient, bigger bottle wonder how long they can keep it in a cupboard. Let’s find it out. 

First of all, the shelf life of any vinegar depends on the type and how it is stored. Vinegar, thanks to its acidic properties is a natural preservative, so it’s not only stays good for long, but also can be used to keep other foods fresh.

Let’s have a look on the shelf life of different types of Balsamics.

Pickled Onions in Balsamic Vinegar
Pickled Onions in Balsamic Vinegar

The IGP regulation for Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP in Europe doesn’t even require the indication of its shelf life on the bottle. When the indication of the shelf life is obligatory in some country, it’s usually 10 years.

Though it is always obligatory for a condiment with “balsamic vinegar of modena” to have a shelf life indicated on a label.  If a condiment contains 100% of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP usually the shelf life indicated is 10 years. If, apart from “Balsamic Vinegar of Modena”, there are other ingredients in a condiment, usually this makes it last shorter period of time. For instance, La Vecchia Dispensa Fruit Condiment‘s shelf life is 3 years. If you don’t know the difference between Balsamic Vinegar and Condiment with Balsamic Vinegar, check my previous article here.

The  DOP regulation for Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP requires indicating 10 year shelf life on a bottle.

But, apart from obligatory shelf life rules, does pure Balsamic Vinegar of Modena IGP or DOP really go bad? If you store it in the ideal conditions it doesn’t. What do I mean for the ideal conditions for Balsamic Vinegar? It’s a dark place, room temperature and a good bottle closure. Extreme temperatures (too hot and too cold) are damaging for Vinegar. Also if you keep balsamic vinegar bottle open, it will slowly start evaporating again, will get more concentrated and the process of crystallization might start. This natural process happens with honey as well, but you can use honey after it’s crystallized, with Balsamic Vinegar it’s not gonna work.

Mind that even if you keep your balsamic closed some sediment on the bottom of a bottle will be formed anyways. And it’s totally fine, because Balsamic Vinegar is a natural product.