How to Tell If Balsamic Vinegar is Bad

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Balsamic vinegar is used in various dishes, particularly salads and meat, as it can add a touch of acidity to a meal.

It also has numerous health benefits, and its natural qualities mean it does not go bad if stored correctly.

However, there are several signs that it has lost its flavor and is of poor quality.


Signs That Balsamic Vinegar is Bad

Pale or Different Colour

Normally, balsamic vinegar should appear brown and glossy. It includes acetic acid, which can cause the vinegar to change colour if you store it for a long time.

You may also notice that the vinegar has become cloudy. This alone does not indicate that the vinegar has gone bad. You can use a coffee filter to remove the cloudiness if desired.

However, suppose the vinegar becomes pale or changes color entirely. In that case, this is a strong indicator that the vinegar is no longer good to eat. You may notice it has turned green or yellow, demonstrating the same thing.

Sour Smell

Another indication of bad balsamic vinegar is its smell. As it contains high amounts of acetic acid, this causes it to have a strong smell normally. It should be tangy and acidic.

Balsamic vinegar will lose its original smell if stored for a long time. This does not mean you cannot eat it, but you may want to dispose of it due to its poor quality.

However, if the vinegar has a sour smell, it’s likely no longer good to eat. You may notice that it smells sour or slightly off, showing it has gone bad.

Harsh Taste

Like its smell, balsamic vinegar gets its strong flavor from acetic acid. As such, it should normally taste acidic and have a sweetness.

If you are unsure if it is safe to eat, try pouring a teaspoon of the vinegar and tasting it. If it has a harsh taste, this may be a sign that the vinegar is no longer safe for consumption.

Foamy Texture

Fresh balsamic vinegar should be runny, though you may sometimes notice it has sediment. This is completely natural, especially if it is unfiltered vinegar.

Even filtered vinegar may contain small amounts of sediment. After a long time, it will collect on the bottle’s bottom.

Similarly, it’s also possible for sediment to gather over time, even if there is none in the bottle originally. Sediment in vinegar is perfectly safe to consume, but you may want to filter it to remove them.

However, if you notice that the vinegar’s surface has bubbles, you should throw the bottle away. Similarly, foamy vinegar is also a sign that it has degraded in quality.

Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad If Unopened?

Balsamic vinegar contains a high amount of acetic acid, which prevents bacteria from growing. This means you may store it forever without any problems with it going bad. So, no, it does not go bad if unopened.

However, the freshness of the vinegar depends on how you store it and how often the bottle is opened. If unopened, store-bought balsamic vinegar can last forever, although, after around 3 to 5 years, it will lose its original quality.

Some more expensive varieties can last up to 25 years without losing taste.

Can Balsamic Vinegar Make You Sick?

Yes, some balsamic vinegar can cause health problems, although the benefits of it appear to outweigh the negatives.

For example, it can help lower cholesterol, improve blood circulation, make your skin clearer, helps with digestion, and is safe for those with diabetes.

Consuming raw balsamic vinegar may cause a few health problems, such as:

  • An inflamed throat, which is caused by the vinegar damaging your oesophagus
  • Stomach pain, which is caused by the vinegar damaging your stomach’s lining
  • Heartburn
  • Gastric issues

If you notice any of these problems after consuming balsamic vinegar, you should immediately stop using it and potentially speak to a doctor.

How to Store Balsamic Vinegar Once Opened

There are several steps to follow to keep balsamic vinegar fresh once opened. You should:

  • Ensure the bottle is tightly sealed and replace the lid if necessary.
  • Keep it in a cool, dark place, with a regular temperature between 15C to 25C (59F to 78F). However, if the temperature exceeds that slightly, it will still be safe to eat. 
  • Keep it in a dark bottle, as light can affect the quality of the vinegar, although this isn’t a necessity. 
  • Avoid putting it in the refrigerator. Though this will keep it cool for salads, the temperature may change its flavor. Additionally, condensation can cause the vinegar to become diluted.

Why Does My Balsamic Vinegar Have Chunks In It?

Like other foods, sometimes balsamic vinegar will become chunky. This is known as a “vinegar mother,” a bacteria colony that sits on top of the liquid. These bacteria consume alcoholic liquids, and it is caused by incomplete fermentation when the vinegar was created.

However, unlike other products, this bacteria is completely harmless and can be safely consumed without health problems. Try straining it with a coffee filter or paper towel if you want to take it out.

Additionally, removing the vinegar mother and adding white wine to it will allow you to create your own vinegar.

Is Balsamic Vinegar Supposed to Be Thick?

The type of balsamic vinegar purchased can affect its texture.

In particular, a balsamic glaze is thicker than regular vinegar and is often used for drizzling over food. Older and concentrated vinegar may be thicker.

It is perfectly safe for consumption.

What Color Should Balsamic Vinegar Be?

There are two main types of balsamic vinegar – white and dark.

White balsamic vinegar, as the name indicates, should be clear. However, oxidation may cause it to become a darker or amber color.

Dark balsamic vinegar should be a dark brown color.

To Sum Up

Balsamic vinegar is a condiment with numerous health benefits. It can provide a delicious touch of acidity or sweetness to a dish.

Since its natural qualities prevent harmful bacteria from forming, it can essentially be stored indefinitely.

However, some signs indicate that its quality has deteriorated and will no longer taste as good.