Does Rice Vinegar Go Bad? What You Need to Know

I can remember when I was a sophomore in college, one of my sorority sisters offered to cook for those of us who were unable to go home for the weekend.  The meal was phenomenal, and it was my first introduction to rice vinegar.  She invited us all to watch as she prepared the meal, and she shared some history about the condiment used in the preparation, making it all that much more enjoyable.

Even though I had never had it before, rice vinegar is a very popular condiment and is considered an essential kitchen staple in many households.

While cooking for us, my sorority sister educated us on the condiment. She told us that rice vinegar comes from the fermentation of the sugars contained within the rice and that it’s most often used as a seasoning in Asian cuisine–such as Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese food. 

Rice vinegar is favored for its mild and sweetish flavor that lends a delicate taste.  Often used in various ways, such as dips, marinades, pickling, and dressings, rice vinegar is a versatile choice.  Rice vinegar is preferred due to its property of not significantly altering the appearance of the food it is paired with.

Considering how versatile and useful it is, you should definitely always have a bottle to hand in your kitchen! But, how long can you keep it? Does rice vinegar go bad? Keep reading to learn more.

Can Rice Vinegar Go Bad?

Like many other varieties of vinegar, the chances of rice vinegar going bad are pretty low. At least, not in a manner in which it would be unsafe for you to eat. 

Rice vinegar has a property that makes it self-preserving and allows it to last for a very long time.  If you find bottles of rice vinegar on sale, you can feel safe in purchasing them as if you are a lover of this seasoning, you’ll surely use them up long before any issue may arise. 

Some will swear by the fact that rice vinegar never goes bad, but that is not necessarily true.  However, it will last a considerably long amount of time.

How Long Does Rice Vinegar Last?

Like other kinds of vinegar, there are no hard and fast rules on exact shelf life.

Because of the inherent acidity level present in rice vinegar, problems causing bacterial and mold growth are inhibited. This means it will take a considerable amount of time before rice vinegar becomes unstable. 

Although rice vinegar will last a long time, many claim it will indefinitely.  With that said, rice vinegar is susceptible to degrading over time, along with presenting with an aesthetic change appearance.

When rice vinegar is stored for an extended amount of time, it will produce toxic compounds referred to as peroxides. 

When these peroxides develop in the vinegar, it is considered to have gone bad. It isn’t safe to consume as it will possibly cause serious illness. 

For this reason, it’s highly suggested that you use up your bottle of rice vinegar before the stamped expiration date.

How to Store Rice Vinegar

The recommended storage of rice vinegar is similar to other kinds of vinegar, such as red wine, apple cider vinegar, black vinegar or balsamic vinegar. 

Whether opened or unopened, the best way to store your rice vinegar is in a cabinet or pantry. The bottle should be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or any form of heat source.  If it’s exposed to either direct sunlight or heat, your rice vinegar will degrade faster.  

Even though rice vinegar is shelf-stable for a significant amount of time, that doesn’t it won’t lose the strength of its flavor.  For optimal taste and enjoyment, you should make sure to use your rice vinegar as soon as you possibly can.

If you notice your bottle of rice vinegar is rapidly nearing its expiration date, you have the option of making it last longer by storing it in the refrigerator.  You can keep the rice vinegar in its original bottle, and there will be no need to transfer the contents. 

To ensure the longest shelf life possible for your rice vinegar, you will need to make sure that you seal the bottle each time that you use it.

How to Tell if Rice Vinegar Has Gone Bad

The question now is, how can you tell if your rice vinegar has, in fact, gone bad?  There are a variety of rice vinegars, in a range of colors, including clear, along with shades of brown and red rice vinegar, on the market today.  You can expect to find a slightly different overall taste with each color.

When attempting to determine if your rice vinegar has gone bad, your best option is to keep an eye out for slight but significant color changes in the rice vinegar’s appearance. 

If your bottle of rice vinegar is no longer safe, it will let you know by taking on a dark yellow discoloration, appearing to be almost molasses-like.  There will also be the presence of an unpleasant odor much like that of the smell of something rotten.  

Much in the same manner as balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar will appear darker and thicker the longer it is stored. 

Rice vinegar is known to become cloudy over time, but as long as there doesn’t appear to be any changes to the vinegar’s color, aroma, or flavor, you can rest assured it will still be safe to use.

Important to mention is that if you notice that a cloudy, almost slimy-looking sediment has formed at the bottom of the bottle, that is referred to as ‘the mother’. The mother forms in practically all varieties of vinegar.  Once you have opened the bottle, the mother will eventually form over time.  The mother is harmless and is perfectly safe to consume. 

Many feel that the very presence of the mother in the bottle is somewhat unappealing.  However, if you prefer, you may filter it out by using a coffee filter.

Can Rice Vinegar Be Frozen?

Although it is perfectly safe for you to freeze rice vinegar, there is really no need to. 

If you choose to freeze your rice vinegar, you may find that the flavor becomes watered down upon defrosting.  There is also the possibility that after freezing and defrosting, the rice vinegar’s acidity will not taste as robust as it once did.

If you feel that you need to freeze the rice vinegar, make sure to transfer it into a freezer-safe container.  If left in its original glass container, the bottle will weaken and may shatter when frozen.