How Long Does Pickling Vinegar Last?

Does pickling vinegar go off? And if it does, can you pickle without vinegar? Read on to learn about the shelf life of pickling vinegar. Did you take a break from pickling and leave some vinegar in your pantry? If you’ve decided to start over, you might be wondering, “Does pickling vinegar go off, and if so, can you pickle without vinegar?”

Your search ends here if this describes you. This article contains all you need to know about the shelf-life of pickling vinegar. It will also discuss where to buy pickling vinegar.

How Long Can You Keep Pickling Vinegar?

Can You Pickle Without Vinegar?

The Vinegar Institute states that “vinegar’s shelf life is almost indefinite.” This is almost certainly because of its high pH levels.

The “Best By” date you find on vinegar bottles is not the date they would certainly expire. Instead, that is the date the manufacturers estimate the product will not be of optimum quality. 

Furthermore, vinegar is self-preserving, meaning you do not have to store it in the fridge. You should know that all bottles of pickling vinegar, whether opened or not, enjoy this long shelf life. 

However, some pickling vinegar may change in appearance over time. The only type of vinegar that does not experience this change is white distilled vinegar. Ultimately, these changes in appearance are harmless as long as you store the vinegar properly. 

Nevertheless, there are ways to get rid of them if they occur. Note that vinegar with these changes may not be optimal for pickling because it might darken your product or change its flavor.

Here are the changes you might discover in your vinegar and how to handle them;


After opening your bottle of vinegar, you expose it to air. This, in turn, may allow vinegar bacteria to grow. 

These bacteria are what cause the vinegar to turn cloudy. However, keep in mind that the bacteria are harmless and do not tamper with the potency of the vinegar.

If you experience cloudiness in your vinegar and want to get rid of it, you can use a coffee filter to strain the kitchen staple, which should do the trick.

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Appearance of Mother

Most brands pasteurize their vinegar, but some do not. The brands that don’t usually state it on the product.

If the pasteurization process is not completed or your vinegar contains vinegar bacteria, a slimy, shapeless substance will emerge and float close to the bottle. 

This substance is known as “vinegar mother,” a bacterium that thrives on alcohol. The appearance of vinegar mother means that the brand did not ferment some sugars or alcohol in the vinegar properly. 

Getting rid of vinegar mother simply requires a coffee filter. However, some people believe that vinegar mother has some health benefits or can be used to create a fresh batch of vinegar.

Change in Color

Different types of pickling vinegar change to various colors based on certain conditions. For example, you might notice your red wine vinegar turns a pale red, and this paleness happens to products that do not contain sulfites.

Other types of vinegar might turn brown over time due to a process called the Maillard reaction. This chemical reaction between reducing sugars and amino acids happens in fruit vinegars and may cause the liquid to brown with time. 

The process typically takes years to happen. Moreover, the reaction might cause the vinegar taste to change, but you can still use it.

Formation of Sediment

All manufacturers filter their vinegars to ensure they are clear. However, some companies do not filter theirs as well as others. Therefore, these less filtered vinegars can develop sediment as time passes and the particles settle.

Fortunately, you can quickly deal with the sediment. All you need to do is use a coffee filter and a fine-mesh strainer. Pour vinegar through the coffee filter at the bottom of the strainer. The end product should be sediment-free.

How to Store Pickling Vinegar for Maximum Shelf Life

Does Pickling Vinegar Go Off?

The chances of your vinegar expiring are slim to none, regardless of how you store it. Nonetheless, if you want to preserve its flavor and maximize its shelf life, you can do the following.

  • Store your vinegar in a cool, dark space without direct sunlight or heat. You don’t have to put it in the fridge, but it’s not a bad idea to do so.
  • Place your vinegar in a glass bottle. You can also use plastic or any other non-reactive material.
  • Ensure to seal the lid of the bottle or container tightly to avoid exposure to air.
  • Replace as soon as you are done with the vinegar to prevent oxygen from reaching the product. Remember that your vinegar’s acidity level will not change unless you introduce water or moisture into its container. If you notice moisture or water in the container, it might mean that the vinegar is now less than 5% acidic, which is not ideal for pickling.
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Where Can I Get Pickling Vinegar?

Are you looking for where to buy pickling vinegar? Well, you can find pickling vinegar in most grocery stores. 

Alternatively, you can order your pickling vinegar online. These are a few of the most rated pickling vinegars sold on Amazon:

1. Pompeian Gourmet Organic Red Wine Vinegar: Pompeian is a company with unique products. This red wine vinegar is produced using only organic, environmentally friendly materials. Furthermore, it contains mother, which is said to have some health benefits.

2. Heinz All-Natural Distilled White Vinegar: Most people know Heinz for its ketchup and mustard, but what they do not know is that Heinz has one of the best distilled white vinegar on the market. This product is easy to find and is quite affordable compared to other brands with similar products.

3. Heinz Gourmet Malt Vinegar: This is yet another standout Heinz product. This gourmet malt vinegar is terrific for pickling, and you can also use it for various dipping sauces. It goes very well with fish, which is one of the greatest ways to use it.

4. Wedderspoon Apple Cider Vinegar: Wedderspoon made this apple cider using the best manufacturing processes. It is made from cold-pressed apples, and the product was naturally fermented.

Furthermore, the brand did not use heat or chemicals to make it. This is one of the best products to use for pickling.

5. Colavita Prosecco White Wine Vinegar: Colavita products are top-of-the-line, and this white wine vinegar is no exception. This vinegar is potent and has a bold flavor. The best part about it is that the brand makes this product using an environmentally-friendly process and without using GMOs.If you’re uncertain about what type of pickling vinegar to use, you can read our article on what’s the best vinegar to use for pickling for reference.

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How Many Times Can You Reuse Vinegar for Pickling?

Most people would say you can reuse your vinegar for pickling once, while some would say twice or thrice. However, you should try and avoid reusing used pickled vinegar. This is because the vinegar is no longer as acidic and has been diluted by water from the vegetables you pickled.

If you intend to reuse pickling vinegar, you might want to boil it first to eliminate spoilage organisms. Boiling might help to preserve the integrity of the vinegar.

Fortunately, you do not need to limit yourself. You can use the pickling vinegar for other purposes depending on what products you have in it. Sweet-and-sour sauces, marinades, and salad dressings are only a few of the many possible applications. Furthermore, you can use it to trap fruit flies or as a weed or slug spray.

What Happens When Vinegar is not Stored Properly?

If you do not store your vinegar correctly, its quality will drop. Also, it will lose acidity and possibly flavor. Nevertheless, it is still safe to eat and has no negative effects. The only variation you might detect is a change in taste and color. So if your pickling vinegar goes bad, can you pickle without vinegar? In short, absolutely!

You can simply use non iodized sea salt and perform a lacto-fermentation for your pickles instead of using vinegar. Check out our recipe for spicy lacto fermented pickled zucchini recipe to get some inspiration.

How Long Does Pickling Vinegar Last Summary

Well, there you have it—all you need to know about the shelf life of pickling vinegar. How long does pickling vinegar last, and does pickling vinegar go off? While pickling vinegar can go bad, you can own a bottle for a long time without worrying about replacing it. Now that you know this, you can easily get back to pickling using your stored vinegar.


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Eve MayHew

Eve Mayhew is a stay-at-home Mum, graphic designer and wife who takes more of a relaxed and practical approach to her lifestyle. She prefers to live a more stress-free life and enjoys food and drink in moderation by counting her blessings rather than counting the calories or feeling guilty over the odd soft drink or fast food fix every now and then. (Contact Author)