We’ve all been there, you’ve used some apple cider vinegar some time ago, and now you’re not sure if you can still use it. If you are an avid cook or not, you’re most likely have some in the far reaches of your pantry or stuck in the dark corner of a cupboard.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular addition to both cooking and baking, as well as having numerous health benefits. And you are more than aware that a small amount, goes a very long way. So it’s probably no surprise that that bottle has been hiding away in your pantry for a while now, slowly being used as time goes by. But now it’s time to find out just long apple cider is good for.
Here we will discuss what apple cider vinegar is made from, its shelf life, its many uses and the best way to store it to make sure you get the best out of this handy and versatile vinegar.
What Does Apple Cider Contain?
Apple cider vinegar, as its name quite rightly suggests, is made from – you guessed it – apples. Originally made from crushed and fermented apples, the apples are left to ferment and turn into ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. Some companies may use yeast to help the fermentation process along. With some handy and helpful bacteria, this ethanol will form into an acid, which is a major component of vinegar. The flavor of this type of vinegar differs from other kinds, as it tends to have a slightly sweeter and tangier taste.
Now it is also quite important to note here that there is ‘unprocessed’ or ‘raw’ apple cider vinegar. This means this particular kind has been unfiltered or not heat-treated. You will notice a murkier and slightly stringy substance at the bottom of these bottles, which is a by-product of the fermentation. It’s nothing to worry about, it is all good bacteria and just shows the vinegar in its more natural state. Raw apple cider vinegar has the same shelf life as processed, so no need to adjust how you store it.
Uses and Benefits
When it comes to cooking with apple cider vinegar, it can be used in almost anything! It’s a handy staple to have in your pantry. This ingredient can be used in recipes such as stews, stir-frys, marinades, pickling, baking and can also be added to drinks and so much more. Just enter a google search and you will be surprised as to what you can use your apple cider vinegar for. A great way to help use up that bottle that has been sitting in your cupboard for a while.
Its health benefits are also well known, and has been used for centuries not only in cooking but also in medicine. Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being a disinfectant, but scientific evidence also suggests it can also help with
- Aiding in weight loss
- Reduce cholesterol
- Improve diabetes symptoms
- And lower blood sugar levels
So if you bought that vinegar to make a salad dressing once, hopefully now you’ll be able to use it across various other recipes and discover a whole new world of apple cider vinegar benefits.
Shelf Life and Storing
As with all vinegar-based products, apple cider vinegar has a very long shelf life, handy if you’re not using it very often. Due to the high acidity contained within, apple cider vinegar is self-preserving, and with that in mind, it technically doesn’t expire. Make sure you store the vinegar in a cool and dark place, and once you have opened it – store it in an airtight container. There is no need to store it in the fridge, as this will not aid in preserving its shelf life or quality.
Some brands will mention a safe ‘shelf life’, but if you do happen to use the vinegar past this date, don’t worry it’s not going to harm you. Many manufacturers will say that this type of vinegar is safe to use well past its expiration date.
If you have used the vinegar in a recipe, such as a salad dressing, its shelf life will be drastically reduced. Do a smell and taste test with the sauce you have made, as it may only last up to a week or two, depending on the other ingredients used. Err on the side of caution, and if the sauce doesn’t smell or taste correct, throw it away.
The Appearance of Apple Cider Vinegar Over Time
As time goes by, your vinegar and its appearance may change, and possibly its flavor as well. Every time you open your bottle or container, the oxygen it is exposed to will cause the release of sulfur dioxide and citric acid. The more immediate and noticeable changes are with its appearance, with it separating or becoming hazy, or both. This won’t necessarily affect its flavor or its health benefits.
If you have had your vinegar for a while, and it’s been some time since you last used it, it’s best to do a smell test. If you are up for it, a taste test will also let you gauge if it has gone past its best. If it smells and tastes sour, you don’t want to ruin your recipe and your tastebuds. Best to go out and buy a fresh new bottle instead.
So to summarize, apple cider vinegar lasts a very long time, as long as you follow the correct procedures in storing it. Due to its acidity, its self-preserving qualities will ensure that it will last long after the recommended manufacturer’s shelf life. Make sure to store correctly in an airtight container, out of the fridge and in a dark and cool spot in your cupboard or pantry. At this rate, it will still be usable after a number of years and still look and taste the same.