Should You Refrigerate Balsamic Vinegar?


Balsamic vinegar is much more expensive than normal vinegar. It’s in your best interest to extend its shelf life for as long as possible. You may think it’s good to store it in the refrigerator as we do with everything else that needs preserving. Some research says that may not be such a clever idea. Therefore, do you refrigerate balsamic vinegar?

Balsamic vinegar should not be refrigerated. The cold in the refrigerator alters the flavor and taste of balsamic vinegar. Humidity can cause condensation inside the bottle, and the water will dilute the vinegar. 

There are many better places to store your balsamic vinegar to keep it safe. I’ll inform you the best way to do it and why. These methods will make certain it doesn’t lose its taste or quality.

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Do You Refrigerate Balsamic Vinegar?

If you care about how your balsamic vinegar tastes, don’t refrigerate it 1. The cold is an adverse environment for the vinegar because it can alter its flavor. The vinegar can pick up undesirable flavors from other foods, and it might impart flavors to other food. Humidity in the refrigerator can cause the bottle to condensate, thus diluting the vinegar. 

The opposite of refrigeration, heat, is not good for balsamic either. Like the cold, heat can change the flavor and taste of the vinegar. If you notice a store has displayed their bottles near a window, a heat source or in the sunlight, don’t buy it.

There are three types of balsamic vinegar 2:

  1. Traditional
  2. Condiment
  3. Balsamic Vinegar of Modena I.G.P. (Store Bought)

Although the different types may last longer or shorter than the others, all three of them have the same standards when it comes to refrigeration or heat.

Does Balsamic Vinegar Go Bad if it’s Not Refrigerated?

Balsamic vinegar will not go bad if refrigerated. It has a bigger chance of tasting bad than turning if you store it in the refrigerator. 

If you notice your balsamic vinegar became cloudy, don’t worry. It’s still okay and safe to use 3. 

To make sure your balsamic vinegar hasn’t gone bad look at the liquid. If you notice a small amount of sediment, it’s still okay to use. The sediment is most likely a compound called “mother of vinegar”. It is safe to eat and drink, but if it bothers you, you can strain it out with a coffee filter. 

Watch out for some substantial changes in texture. For example, if you see mold, throw your balsamic vinegar away because it’s no longer safe to consume 4. 

Another way to check if your balsamic vinegar has gone bad is to do a sniff-test. Throw it away if it smells rancid. The normal flavor of balsamic vinegar is a little acidic with a hint of sweetness. A harsh taste indicates it’s no longer suitable for consumption. 

If you notice the balsamic vinegar in a restaurant tastes different than the one you have at home, it likely means it’s a different brand or grade. 

 

Can Balsamic Vinegar be Stored at Room Temperature?

It is advised you keep your vinegar at room temperature, as the cold in the refrigerator makes it taste different. You should be mindful to place it in a dry place, away from sunlight and in a dark bottle. The best place to store balsamic vinegar is in the kitchen cabinet. When you put it away, always tighten the bottle cap to prevent oxygen from contaminating it. Same as cold, heat and direct sunlight will alter its taste. 

Like I mentioned earlier, don’t store any of your balsamic vinegar near a heat source. This includes sunlight, heating vents and radiators.

How Long Can You Keep an Opened Bottle of Balsamic Vinegar?

Unlike other foods you consume, balsamic vinegar, if it’s an authentic quality and stored properly, can last for 10 years. This vinegar, just like wine, is best as it ages. In addition, it gets thicker and richer in flavor.  

The traditional balsamic vinegar stays longer in wooden barrels, making its taste richer and increasing its shelf-life.

It’s possible to pass down balsamic vinegar from generation to generation. With some traditional brands, it takes up to 150 years to go bad. Those kinds of authentic balsamic vinegar are really hard to find in the stores nowadays. 

It’s best to keep an open bottle for about 3-5 years, but if you store it for more than 10 years, it won’t go bad. However, the vinegar will begin losing flavor and quality. Balsamic vinegar has no expiration date. It’s the quality that declines over time. The acid content of the vinegar acts as the self-preservative.

If you use a store-bought non-authentic balsamic vinegar, it’s best to use it until the best buy date 1. Unfortunately, it can’t last as long as the authentic balsamic vinegar. Nonetheless, it will still last you a good few years. Even after the Best Buy date, the vinegar typically is still good but it’s the quality and taste that will suffer the most.

Make sure to always taste the vinegar before using it to make sure it hasn’t lost any taste or quality.

Balsamic Vinegar History

Over the last few years, balsamic vinegar became all the rage in the culinary scene. It became the favorite of master chefs and an omnipresent item in gourmet food shops, supermarkets, fancy restaurants, pizza places and even fast-food chains. 

Balsamic vinegar is a dark, concentrated vinegar that is rich in flavor. It contains reduced grape must and is left to age over several years in the wooden barrels 5. It originated in Modena, in the northern region of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. 

Balsam is an aromatic and usually oily and resinous substance from plants that can be used to make a balm. The first written reference of this term to vinegar appeared in 1747. It was located in a register at the winery of the Duke of Este in Modena.

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How Balsamic Vinegar is Made?

This is an area of wine production which specializes in Trebbiano (white) and Lambrusco (red) grape varieties. It was the tradition to set aside some of the must, the unfermented juice of grapes, to make a very special vinegar. Today the traditional balsamic vinegar is made the same way it was made centuries ago. 

The juice is gently cooked down to the consistency of a syrup, concentrating its flavors and aromas, and darkening its color. Once it cools down, it is transferred to wooden barrels, where the cooked must undergoes a slow fermentation which creates alcohol. Alcohol is then attacked by acetic bacteria, turning the wine into vinegar. 

The vinegar is then left to age, a process that takes about 12 years or more. As time passes, the liquid in the barrel evaporates, and the contents are transferred to smaller and smaller barrels. The barrels are made out of different types of wood, like chestnut, cherrywood, ash, mulberry, and juniper.

Then the vinegar can be aged for an additional period of time before bottling. All procedures have a notable influence on the final product.

Balsamic Vinegar Uses

In the past, a spoonful of balsamic vinegar was taken as a tonic and an elixir. Tiny bottles of long-aged Aceto balsamico were given to important people as a special mark of gratitude. Nowadays, it is used for everything as a go-to vinegar of choice. Whichever way you decide to use it, typically it’s still better not to refrigerate it. When it comes to balsamic vinegar, how you use it depends largely on which type you have. 

Balsamic vinegar can be used for the following:

  • Dressing a salad 
  • A syrupy reduction to drizzle over food 
  • As a marinade

Aceto Balsamico di Modena helps accentuate the food. This is similar to how you would use a good extra-virgin olive oil: drizzle it over something at the table or add a dash to a sauce or cooking juices just before serving.

Traditional balsamic vinegar is drizzled over aged cheeses or rich strong foods like roast squab or duck liver pâté, or you serve a pinch with dessert.

You should use very little balsamic vinegar. When it comes to Balsamic Vinegars aged under 12 years, start with half a teaspoon per portion. For Balsamic Vinegar aged 12 years or more, go drop by drop.

A balsamic reduction may be the exception when it comes to refrigerating your vinegar. A reduction is made by simmering the balsamic in a sauce pan until it has reduced by about half. The reduction results in a more concentrated flavor. The reduction gets thicker and the longer you simmer it, the thicker it gets. The reduction may last up to three months if it’s sealed and refrigerated.

Balsamic Vinegar Has Many Health Benefits

If your balsamic vinegar is refrigerated for a lengthy period of time, the benefits may lessen along with the quality and taste of the vinegar.

A 100-gram serving of balsamic vinegar  has about 88 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams of sugar. It contains beneficial nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus 6. 

Polyphenols are antioxidants found in balsamic vinegar. They help lower heart disease 7, cancer and strengthen the immune system 8.

It is also good for digestion because its major component is acetic acid. This acid contains probiotic bacteria, which preserves food and helps you have healthy digestion while improving your gut health. 

Balsamic vinegar can help you lose weight because, unlike other flavoring agents, it doesn’t contain any fat and can help control glucose levels 9. 

If your anti-aging creams aren’t working, your balsamic vinegar may be the solution. The antioxidants it contains enhance cell growth which prevents premature aging of your skin. The acetic acid, antimicrobial compounds, and antioxidants make your skin look brighter while improving your complexion.

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Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. Aceto Balsamico: Balsamic Vinegar FAQ[][]
  2. Wikipedia: Balsamic Vinegar[]
  3. Williams Sonoma: All About Balsamic Vinegar[]
  4. Colorado State University: Flavored Vinegars and Oils[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Technological and microbiological aspects of traditional balsamic vinegar and their influence on quality and sensorial properties[]
  6. NutritionData: Vinegar, Balsamic Nutrition Facts & Calories[]
  7. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: Inhibitory Effects of Balsamic Vinegar on LDL Oxidation and Lipid Accumulation in THP-1 Macrophages[]
  8. Taylor & Francis Online: Antihypertensive Effects of Acetic Acid and Vinegar on Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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