Does Apple Cider Vinegar Go Bad?

Does ACV Have an Expiry Date?

One of the top natural remedies of our time, ACV is a commonly used in cooking these days. People also use it as a natural remedy and a food preservative as well. Apple cider vinegar has a variety of applications and is one of those things that no one expects to go bad. People think that just because something’s natural, it can’t go bad or at least has a very long expiry date.

Well, it’s not always like that. As it turns out, apple cider vinegar has a much longer shelf life than any other liquid. Milk, for example, can turn bad pretty quickly. If not stored properly, it can turn bad in even a day. Things are different when it comes to apple cider vinegar. Thanks to its acids and the fact that it’s a natural bacteria killer, it rarely turns bad. Read our article to learn more about this incredible property.

How Is It Made?

Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples. When the apples ferment, the yeast converts some of the sugars in the liquid to alcohol, typically between 1% and 8%. This process can take up to six months and results in apple cider, a boozy drink we love.

Now, there’s a second process that turns the cider to vinegar. Once again, it’s a fermentation process that turns alcohol to vinegar with acetobacter. This type of good bacteria will turn alcohol into acetic acid which gives the vinegar the sour taste and acidic nature.

How Much Does ACV Last?

As you may already know, ACV contains numerous acids. Acetic acid is found in abundance, and it also contains malic and citric acid as well. Apple cider vinegar has a pH of about 2-3, making it mildly acidic. Thanks to its acidic nature, it can last pretty long without spoiling.

Of course, if you get store-bought ACV, it will surely have an expiration date. This doesn’t mean it will last that much – it indicates that the liquid will be of the best quality for that period. Most commercial ACV bottles found on Amazon can be stored for up to 5 years. If you store the bottle properly, it should be able to last that long and can even be used afterward.

How to Store ACV Properly?

Now, many of you are probably wondering “How do I store apple cider vinegar properly?” That’s easy – as long as the bottle is in a dark and cool place and it is tightly sealed, it will last at least until the expiration date. In most cases, it can be used after that as well. Keeping it tightly sealed is of major importance. If the bottle isn’t closed like it should be, dust particles and other contaminants might spoil it.

As soon as you open the bottle, it’s best to put it in the fridge. Otherwise, you can store it in the pantry. There are usually instructions on the bottle you get that should tell you how you need to store it.

How Do I Tell If It Went Bad?

This one’s a bit tricky. Since apple cider vinegar is acidic and sour in taste, telling if it went bad is difficult. Seeing it cloud or hazy doesn’t necessarily mean it went bad. Over time, its acidity and intensity change as well – it becomes more potent. However, there are a few signs that your ACV went bad. The biggest signs are:

  • Noticeable changes in color and taste
  • Sediments at the bottom of the bottle
  • Unpleasant smell
  • ‘Rotten egg’ aroma

The thing about ACV is that it doesn’t expire like other products. Sometimes, even if you notice some of the signs such as unpleasant aroma due to bacterial contamination and bad fermentation you can still save it by transferring it into another bottle or vessel.

In general, if it seems fine, you can use it. If it smells or tastes bad and the ‘mother’ substance looks off, you can throw it away. Still, this shouldn’t happen in most cases.

Normal ACV Changes Over Time

As mentioned, apple cider’s vinegar color, texture, and taste may change over time. The first thing you might notice is it becoming hazy. While many people consider this a sign of ACV turning bad, it’s not. Cloudy sediments and fibers at the bottom of the bottle are normal and usually caused by oxidation. This happens every time you open the lid so it’s not a process you can prevent or stop.

Oxygenation will make the liquid release sulphur dioxide and citric acid. Both can turn the taste to ACV, but they don’t affect the liquid’s quality or its shelf life. Such subtle aesthetic changes due to oxygen exposure are quite normal and expected, so they don’t mean your ACV has turned bad.

Of course, before you consume or use it in any way, it’s a good idea to taste the apple cider vinegar. If something’s off, you should consider throwing it away.

How Does it Stay Fresh for That Long?

As mentioned, apple cider vinegar doesn’t expire over time like milk, for example. Its shelf life is sublime and it can often be used for much longer than the expiry date stamped on the bottle. That’s if you store it properly.

Most experts believe that the liquid’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties are what keeps it fresh for so long. These properties can prevent the growth of several bacteria including Staphylococcus, Candida Albicans, and E. Coli among others. Apple cider vinegar can kill other bacteria pretty effectively. That’s why it has commonly been used as a natural remedy against bacterial, yeast, and even viral infections. While it’s not a substitute for medical help, it can defeat numerous bacteria if used properly.


Apple cider vinegar’s acidic nature and antimicrobial properties make it a self-preserving liquid. The chemical changes that occur when its exposed to oxygen are normal and don’t necessarily affect its shelf life. However, changes in color, taste, and texture might be a problem. Contrary to popular belief, ACV can turn bad if not stored properly. However, the chances for that to happen are pretty low.

In most cases, ACV’s shelf life is five years. However, it usually lasts far longer than the expiration date stamped on the label. If you get raw, unpasteurized ACV, you can store it in a dark and cold place for much longer than five years. Apple cider vinegar has a much longer shelf life than milk or other liquids, so it’s pretty safe to use for quite a long time.

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