We use vinegar in so many areas of our lives. It’s a kitchen pantry item that can be crossed over into multiple other purposes. You can use vinegar for things like cleaning, cooking, sanitizing, and more. You would be surprised at how versatile vinegar can be.
There are so many different types of vinegar as well. This multi-functional product can have functioning branches – from apple cider vinegar to rice vinegar to cleaning vinegar and everything in between. The options can quickly become overwhelming.
The thing is, a little bit of vinegar can go quite a long ways and you often buy it in rather large containers. We need viable options for preserving and storing vinegar once it’s been opened so we don’t have to waste all of that unused vinegar until that time we need it again.
Can you freeze vinegar? What is the best way to store vinegar? Oddly enough, vinegar can store for a very long time at room temperature but you can also freeze it if you feel the need to. Vinegar does freeze. There are several interesting things to know about freezing vinegar.
In this guide, we will walk through everything you should know about freezing vinegar, including how it freezes and what happens when it freezes. We will also cover some of the various types of vinegar and what you can expect of those as well.
Keep reading to dive into the must-know details about vinegar and freezing.
The Ultimate Guide to Freezing Vinegar
Did you know that vinegar actually has the ability to melt items? It doesn’t just melt things at random but it can melt frozen items, particularly ice. The makeup of vinegar allows it to melt ice.
The composition in vinegar is such that when you combine it with water, it reduces the freezing point of said water. So when you’re trying to work through a chunk of ice or even when you need a good science experiment, try melting some ice with vinegar.
We will note that it can take a considerable length of time for the process to work. You don’t want to go spraying your frozen windshield with vinegar to melt the ice. It will soften the ice but it won’t just melt it away.
However, if you anticipate ice and prep your windshield with a solution before the ice it will help prevent your windshield from having a stuck on ice layer in the morning.
Vinegar is an interesting mixture and perhaps one of the least understood options out there. Many people take for granted all of the functionality that vinegar can offer. Although, we’re sure you probably, which is why you’re here.
Vinegar is made up of acetic acid with various trace chemicals and sometimes additional flavorings or additives. The acetic acids in vinegar can be made in various ways. Commonly, it is made by fermenting ethanol or various types of sugars.
One of the reasons there are so many forms of vinegar is because there are many base sources that can be used to make vinegar.
Here are a few of the most popular types of vinegar for your reference.
- Balsamic vinegar
- Rice vinegar
- Traditional vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- White vinegar
- Distilled vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar
Many of these function similarly. When you use vinegar in cooking, you might find a recipe that calls for a very specific type of vinegar but for the most part, these are fairly interchangeable.
To learn more about the different types of vinegar, I suggest watching this video by Everyday Food on YouTube. I’ll also go into more depth later in the article.
Uses for Vinegar
There are so many uses out there for vinegar, it would be impossible to cover them all. However, we want you to know there are a lot of things you can do with vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is explicitly known for its health benefits. This type of vinegar, in particular, has a lot of benefits that are unique to it. It can boost the immune system, lower blood pressure, condition your hair, soothe bug bites, and even help with acne.
Other forms of vinegar can also have a lot of uses but apple cider vinegar is perhaps one of the most well-known forms because of the additional health benefits. It’s even more powerful in some cases when mixed with baking soda.
Here are some other uses for vinegar in general for you to reference.
- Window cleaner
- Kill weeds
- Preserve fresh-cut flowers
- Clean the microwave
- Unclog shower heads and faucets
- Use to clean away mold
- Stain remover
- Homemade salad dressing (vinaigrette)
- Dipping sauces
- Pan sauce
- Pie crusts
This list could really go on and on. But we’re not here to simply talk about using vinegar. We’re here to talk about storing vinegar, particularly freezing vinegar.
So let’s get to the heart of the matter.
Shelf Life of Vinegar
Some would argue that vinegar lasts forever. In some studies, they will tell you that the shelf life of vinegar is eternal. And maybe it is. Of course, there are always best-by dates and recommended usage times as well as recommended storage options.
You can keep vinegar on your shelf as long as you want to, whether it’s open or not. There are some things you should know. There are changes you might see in the mixture and some simple things to be aware of.
When you look at recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it is recommended that you only keep your vinegar on the shelf for about 2 years after it’s been opened.
It doesn’t necessarily go bad. Vinegar is extremely acidic and it is actually self-preserving by nature. This includes all types of vinegar. It is recommended that you don’t store your vinegar in direct sunlight but rather in a closed pantry or a semi-cool and dark area.
So, what happens when you do store that vinegar on the shelf for 2+ years and then pull it out to use it? You might notice some discoloration of the mixture just because it has sat. You might also notice it appears filmy, which is because of the fermentation factor that makes vinegar.
The flavor and the overall usefulness of your vinegar should not be affected if we’re being honest. You can give it a good shake and use it however you want. Just know, that these bottles, are still marked with what some of us call expiration dates but this date is just a mere recommendation.
What Happens When You Freeze Vinegar?
You can absolutely freezer your vinegar – no matter what type of vinegar it is. You might see different reactions in different kinds of vinegar. We will break those out in a bit.
Right now, we want to cover just some basic information about what to expect when you freeze vinegar.
Let us start by saying you do not have to freeze vinegar in order to preserve it. Vinegar is a self-preserving product that can be store on your pantry shelf for years with little to no noticeable effects.
However, freezing your vinegar can also be good for it in several ways. There are also some things you might notice that happen when you freeze vinegar.
First of all, vinegar freezes at about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. If you leave it outside or even in your garage that isn’t temperature controlled, it could freeze.
Acetic acid actually decomposes over time, which is where you might see some discoloration if you leave your vinegar on the shelf for years. This doesn’t make your vinegar go bad, it just potentially reduces the potency as well as the acidity.
When you freeze vinegar, it’s possible that you actually dilute the acidity of the vinegar even more. Because the solution freezes and then, of course, melts which can add excess moisture to the mix in the form of water and therefore dilute the acid in vinegar.
If you choose to freeze your vinegar, just know that it may not be as strong as when you put it in the freezer. You should also know, it’s possible it won’t be as strong if it has sat in your pantry for 2 years also.
Perhaps one of the most important things to know about freezing vinegar is that you might need to alter how you use it after you freeze it.
For instance, if you use vinegar mostly in cooking and making dressings, you probably won’t notice any real difference when you use your vinegar.
On the other hand, if you use vinegar for pickling items or even for extra-strength cleaning needs, we recommend that you don’t freeze it because the reduction in potency caused by the dilution could cause your vinegar to be less effective than it’s meant to be.
Just understand that freezing vinegar could have some other side effects and how you use it afterward could be effected.
How to Freeze Vinegar
One thing we know for certain about freezing vinegar is that no matter what type of vinegar you’re working with; they all can freeze following the same instructions.
In this section of the guide, we will share with you a simple process for freezing vinegar. This will inform you of the overall process of freezing any type of vinegar.
What you need to be most careful about is what type of container you freeze your vinegar in. Obviously, you don’t want your vinegar to leak or crack or break – remember vinegar can melt ice.
Here are steps for freezing vinegar to help you out.
- Transfer vinegar into a freezer-safe sturdy container that will seal well and not leak or crack in the freezer.
- Be sure to leave 1-2 inches of headspace in your container as liquids do expand when they freeze.
- We recommend covering the top of your storage container with a layer of plastic wrap before you seal it with the lid. This is just an added safeguard against leaks.
- Attach lid and seal again with tape to keep everything in place appropriately. The key is to do everything you can to avoid leaks.
- Freeze indefinitely or until you need it.
Remember that vinegar freezes at 28 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best if you freeze it close to that temperature because the colder it is in the freezer the more acidity you can lose during the freezing process.
Here is an alternative if you want to freeze your vinegar in small amounts rather than in one large dish.
- Pour vinegar into ice cube trays.
- Freeze the vinegar-filled trays for 6-12 hours to get them solid.
- Pop the vinegar cubes from the trays and transfer them to storage containers or heavy-duty freezer bags.
With this method, you can simply pull out a vinegar cube when you need some and work with one cube or as many cubes as you need. This saves you from having to work with a large mass amount of vinegar that’s been frozen. That could be a real pain if you just need a small amount.
Now, it’s essential that we talk about some of the most popular types of vinegar so you can understand any nuances about them as well.
Apple Cider Vinegar
In the past decade, as the world strives to be a better place and to learn more natural remedies for home and health, apple cider vinegar has taken the world by storm. It’s been around much longer than that but it seems we’re constantly learning new health benefits that it can offer.
Apple cider vinegar is very common in salad dressings and marinades. Some people even drink a small dose every day mixed with juice or tea because it offers a lot of immune support and other health-related benefits when used regularly.
The best apple cider you can find, in my opinion, is Braggs Organic Apple Cider with “The Mother.”
Apple cider vinegar is acetic acid much like regular vinegar but it is fermented with apple juice.
Apple cider vinegar is stored much the same way as traditional vinegar. Don’t store it in heated areas or in open sunlight but rather put it in a cool dark space. The back corner of your pantry or cupboard is a great option.
You can refrigerate apple cider vinegar if you prefer to but it is not required or even necessary. The recommended shelf life of apple cider vinegar is 2 years but remember it really will stay good indefinitely.
Apple cider vinegar is perhaps the most regulated form of vinegar as far as having a specific stamped expiration date. If your bottle looks like it has a lot of sediment in the bottom or it has an off odor, it’s acceptable to toss it out.
Apple cider vinegar is more likely to “go bad” because of the apple juice it is fermented with. At the same time, a good shake can go a long way as long as the flavor isn’t off.
You can freeze apple cider vinegar but it’s actually not recommended, especially if you make your own. It will most likely still be good but freezing can cause it to lose potency and if you made your own, it can also ruin the “mother” that you used to make your batch.
We recommend sealing it tightly and storing it in your cabinet for the best results.
White or Distilled Vinegar
White vinegar and distilled vinegar are essentially the same things. This is your most common form of vinegar and one of the most multi-functional forms.
If you’re using vinegar for cleaning and disinfectant purposes, then white or distilled vinegar is what you should be using.
Typically, white vinegar comes in a fairly large container, like this one from Heinz. You can use it anywhere in your home and accomplish a lot with it. White vinegar is incredibly valuable when mixed with baking soda as well. This is a great way to get rid of mold and soap scum in your bathroom.
When you hear the term regular or traditional vinegar, it is this type of vinegar that people are referring to.
White vinegar does not need to be refrigerated, although you can if you prefer. It also does not need to be frozen but once again, you can if you prefer. To freeze white vinegar, follow the steps previously shared in this guide.
White vinegar essentially has an infinite shelf life. It does not go bad and it can sit for months without use and remain unchanged. We do recommend giving your bottle a good shake if you let it sit for a while.
While white vinegar is typically used in the home when you use vinegar for cleaning purposes, you can actually purchase cleaning vinegar which has 1% more acetic acid in it. This is the only difference. Cleaning vinegar can be slightly stronger for cleaning from that 1% but white vinegar will also be effective.
When it comes to knowing you don’t need to toss out your vinegar, white vinegar is the way to go. The quality is not affected by storage time like some other forms of vinegar. Again, you can refrigerate or freeze but it’s actually not necessary or even really recommended.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red wine vinegar again has the same concept as traditional vinegar. It is called red wine vinegar because it is fermented with red wine. The red wine also causes the color to be red rather than clear. I personally love Pompeian’s Organic Red Wine Vinegar.
The most common uses for red wine vinegar are cooking and making a dressing with it. It makes a delicious vinaigrette from the added flavor of the red wine. There are some additional benefits to using red wine vinegar.
Here are a few.
- Reduce blood sugar levels
- Promote heart health
- Contains antioxidants
- Could promote weight loss
- Facial toner (when diluted)
- Marinade meats
You can also use red wine vinegar for some household cleaning uses, it is essential to do your research and be mindful as the color is reddened by the wine.
Red wine vinegar can also last indefinitely on the shelf. Store it much like other types of vinegar. For best quality, it is recommended to use your red wine vinegar within about 2 years but it should still be safe for use past that period. It will lose some potency over time.
For red wine vinegar, it’s recommended that you store it in the fridge once it has been opened. This is not required but it does go a long way in preserving the quality of the vinegar. You can also freeze red wine vinegar but it’s not necessary.
If you choose to freeze it, do so using the methods previously laid out for vinegar freezing purposes.
These are the most common forms of vinegar that have any specific instruction in order to preserve. Any wine-based vinegar should be treated much the same as red wine vinegar, which means we recommend storing it in the fridge or in a cool dark location.
Otherwise, if it was not mentioned here as having specific restrictions, you can anticipate that all of the details will match what was laid out regarding white or distilled vinegar and may follow the same guidelines.
We hope that you find this guide regarding freezing vinegar to be a valuable resource for all things related to freezing and/or preserving vinegar. There is a lot of relevant information about how to best store various types of vinegar.
We invite you to review the question and answer section for some additional information you may find helpful.
Does Red Wine Vinegar Clean as Well as Distilled Vinegar?
Yes, red wine vinegar cleans nearly as effectively as distilled vinegar in almost all areas. Red wine vinegar is considered a specialty product and does cost considerably more. Also, remember that red wine vinegar is red and could stain slightly.
Does Vinegar Actually Kill Mold?
The acid in vinegar has been tested to kill between 80-85 percent of all types of mold. It can also help to prevent mold in a treated area. It cannot kill all mold but it can certainly go a long way to help with most mold.
You should use undiluted white vinegar when you are working to fight mold.