A staple in Asian cuisine, rice vinegar adds a mildly sweet and sour taste to foods. It is common in dressings, sushi rice, and as a sweetener in dishes.
Though not as common as other types of vinegar, rice vinegar can make a great addition to your kitchen for more unique dishes where you want a bit of a flavor kick.
Perhaps you purchased a bottle of rice vinegar for a specialty dish months or years ago, but have now rediscovered it at the back of your pantry. You may find yourself wondering if it is still good to use, or if it should be thrown out.
This is the bottom line: Rice vinegar has an incredibly long shelf life, and can last for years when stored properly. However, it can degrade in quality, so you should ensure there are no major changes to the product before use.
What Is Rice Vinegar?
Rice vinegar is a liquid made from fermented rice. The fermentation occurs when the sugar from the rice is converted to alcohol and then into vinegar.
Acidic yet somewhat sweet, rice vinegar is more mild than a standard distilled white vinegar. This makes it a more subtle addition to dishes, dressings, and marinades.
Shelf Life Of Rice Vinegar
Given the acidity of rice vinegar, it makes it difficult for bacteria or mold to grow. This means that rice vinegar has an incredibly long shelf life. Some say that rice vinegar can be used indefinitely, with no negative health consequences.
But, this does not mean rice vinegar does not change or go bad. It will begin to degrade in quality. The standard shelf life for rice vinegar, in proper storage conditions, is up to five years. If refrigerated, its shelf life can prolong to even up to 10 years.
Rice vinegar can be used as a preservative, and its natural properties make it long-lasting. It will likely be perfectly fine to consume after months or years past its “best by” date, though it can begin to lose its sharp flavor and quality.
Proper Storage Of Rice Vinegar
To ensure a long shelf life for your rice vinegar, it should be stored properly.
It is ideal to store rice vinegar in a dry location at room temperature. It should be kept away from any sources of direct sunlight or heat, which can cause rice vinegar to go bad quicker.
When opened, rice vinegar should be sealed tightly after each use. Frequent exposure to air will cause it to spoil faster.
If you do not think you will be able to use a bottle of rice vinegar within five years, or if you are approaching its labeled “use by” date, it can be refrigerated. This will prolong its shelf life.
With all products, you should check the packaging for any specific storage instructions. There are some varieties of rice vinegar that may recommend refrigeration rather than room temperature.
Has This Rice Vinegar Gone Bad?
Again, the “best by” date on the packaging is often a recommendation. With rice vinegar, it is still perfectly safe to consume past this date. However, to ensure you are using rice vinegar that is still of good quality, there are some signs that it may no longer be fit for consumption.
Check for any changes in the color or appearance of the rice vinegar. If the appearance seems off, the quality of the vinegar may have started to deteriorate.
Rice vinegar has a sharp scent to begin with, but if there is any significant change to its smell, you may not want to risk it.
If its smell and appearance seem normal, you can try testing a small taste. If it has gone more bitter or no longer tastes as good, you may want to throw it out. Rice vinegar will become less palatable through time.
- Rice vinegar is one of the lesser-used varieties of vinegar but makes a great addition to flavorful dishes.
- Rice vinegar should be stored in a cool location, away from direct sources of sunlight. It should always be tightly sealed.
- To prolong its shelf life, rice vinegar can be refrigerated.
- Stored properly, rice vinegar can remain in good quality for 5 years at room temperature or up to 10 years when refrigerated.
- Rice vinegar can begin to degrade in quality, though is likely perfectly safe to consume.
So, if you are worried about that bottle of rice vinegar that has been at the back of your pantry for years, do not fear. While it may have lost some of its quality or flavor, it is likely perfectly safe to consume.