When it comes to condiments, vinegar is undoubtedly one of the best. Part of this is because there are so many different types.
There’s a whole range of different vinegar that you can put on your food, and there are even some types of vinegar that are designed specifically for cleaning.
So there’s no doubt that this condiment is top tier.
But one thing that you may have noticed with vinegar is that it is seemingly endless.
You can often only get vinegar in large containers, which would be a good thing, if vinegar wasn’t something that you only ever use a small amount of.
Due to this, it is not uncommon for vinegar to go out of date long before you get halfway through a bottle.
So what do you do if you want to preserve the shelf life of your vinegar? In most cases, the obvious answer would be ‘freeze it’ but is this possible for vinegar? Let’s take a look.
Can You Freeze Vinegar?
We’ll take a deeper look at whether you can freeze vinegar later on, and also have a look at all the specifics, but if you want the short answer, then it is yes you can freeze vinegar.
In most cases, there will be absolutely no need to freeze vinegar, and this is mainly because it has a very long shelf life at regular temperatures.
Unlike some condiments, vinegar does not require you to store it in the refrigerator once it has been opened, and it can simply sit on a shelf or in a cupboard for months on end without going out of date.
However, it is possible that even with this long shelf life, you might find that you end up wasting a lot of vinegar because it has passed its use by date. This is especially common if you are someone who only uses vinegar when cooking, and not as a condiment, or if you are part of a small family or live alone.
As we have said, vinegar is often only available in large containers and so it is not possible to simply buy a smaller container to reduce waste. In this case, freezing it might be a good option.
Unlike some other foods and ingredients which can be simply placed in the freezer and left until you want to use them, vinegar requires a much more refined process. There are lots of fascinating things about freezing vinegar, which is why we’ve put together this ultimate guide.
Not only are we talking about whether or not vinegar can be frozen, we’re also taking a look at what happens to the vinegar when it gets placed in freezing temperatures, and also if the type of vinegar impacts the freezing process.
So now that you know that vinegar can be frozen, let’s take a look at exactly what vinegar is to see how this affects the freezing and defrosting process.
What is Vinegar?
So before we go any further, let’s take a look at exactly what vinegar is. As we have seen, vinegar is incredibly diverse and there is a massive range of different types available.
This is something that a lot of people find puzzling as vinegar is often viewed as a boring ingredient, but when you take a peek under the surface you will realize that it is actually very interesting.
You may not be aware of this, but vinegar is actually a man made ingredient. It is for this reason that so many variations of this condiment are able to exist, as different bases can be used to produce different types of vinegar.
Some people assume that vinegar is something that is naturally occurring, like sea salt or vegetables, but this is not the case. So what is vinegar made of?
Vinegar contains a mixture of different ingredients, but the main ingredients are acidic. Namely, the most common acid that you will find in vinegar is acetic acid.
Most commonly the acetic acid that you will find in vinegar is produced by fermenting ethanol and other types of sugars. This process results in acetic acid which is then mixed with some other types of trace chemicals and then enhanced with additives and flavors depending on the type of vinegar that you want.
To produce different types of vinegar, different base ingredients are used to produce the acid. Additionally, different flavors are added to help achieve the different tastes and styles of vinegar. So what are these different variations of vinegar? Let’s take a look at the different types of vinegar that are currently produced.
Different Types of Vinegar
There is a seemingly endless list of different types of vinegar which can be produced depending on the ingredients that you use.
But there are a select few which seem to be the most popular options, so what are they?
Some of the most popular types of vinegar include:
- Traditional Vinegar
- Red Wine Vinegar
- White Wine Vinegar
- White Vinegar
- Distilled Vinegar
- Rice Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar
As well as this list, there’s a whole load of other types of vinegar which you can get your hands on. But generally speaking, all of these vinegars are actually very similar to one another.
The main reason why such a large variety exists is because of cooking. When it comes to cooking, different recipes will require different types of vinegar to compliment the flavors of the other ingredients used in the dish. So this is why such a wide variety of types of vinegar exist.
We mentioned earlier that another reason why you might use vinegar is for cleaning, and when it comes to this, some types of vinegar are better than others. But generally, they all do the same job and are just slightly different in terms of taste and smell.
The main uses of vinegar are, of course, in cooking and cleaning, but let’s take a look at some of the different reasons why you might use a specific type of vinegar over another.
Some Reasons Why You May Use Vinegar
There are lots of different reasons why you might use vinegar, and depending on the type of vinegar that you are looking at, these different reasons will vary greatly.
In basic terms, the list of things that you can do with vinegar is seemingly endless.
Let’s take a look at some of the main things that you can do with vinegar, and take a closer look at some types.
Generally speaking, here are some of the main things that you can make/do with vinegar:
- Kill weeds and unwanted plants
- Remove stains
- Clear away mold
- Unclog shower heads and faucets
- Clean windows, microwaves, and metal
- Salad Dressing
- Pickle vegetables
- Create new condiments
- Make glazes and marinades
- Pastry and pie crusts
- And lots more…
More specifically, let’s take a look at one type of vinegar which is very popular here in the USA and that is apple cider vinegar.
The general uses of vinegar are true to most types of vinegar, but apple cider vinegar has a much more targeted focus. This focus is on health benefits as apple cider vinegar has been linked to a lot of them.
As vinegar is often used on unhealthy foods, a lot of people make the incorrect assumption that it is unhealthy, but apple cider vinegar is actually very good for you. This type of vinegar has been linked to serious health benefits such as reducing blood pressure and boosting the immune system.
It has also been linked to more immediate pain reliefs, such as easing the pain of bug bites, soothing acne, and even helping condition your hair.
So while vinegar is immediately linked to food, there are a lot of uses for vinegar which have absolutely nothing to do with eating it.
Vinegar Shelf Life
Before we take a deep dive into the process of freezing vinegar, let’s take a closer look at what its shelf life is like when it is not frozen. Earlier we mentioned that vinegar has a pretty long shelf life when it is stored at room temperature, so let’s take a deeper look at this.
The shelf life of vinegar is something that is highly debated. As vinegar is often store bought, it is a legal requirement that it is given a shelf life and a ‘use by’ date.
But, a lot of people argue that vinegar will last forever, and so some people choose to ignore the date supplied on the bottle of vinegar.
This is actually true, as vinegar doesn’t necessarily ‘go bad’ in the same sense as other foods, but you will notice some changes over time.
Strictly speaking, vinegar will never go off. Due to this, you can keep your vinegar on your shelf for as long as you like, even if you have opened it. But remember that the quality of the vinegar and its appearance will begin to alter as the time goes by.
Usually during the first 2 years after you open a bottle of vinegar, you will not notice any change in the appearance of the vinegar, this is why it is generally accepted that you can use it during this time. But once these 2 years have passed, you will begin to notice some small differences in the vinegar.
The main difference that you are likely to observe is a slight difference in the color of the vinegar. Over time, the color will start to turn, but despite this the vinegar is still okay to use.
You may also notice that the vinegar begins to have a filmy texture which will begin to occur due to the fermentation process that was used to create the vinegar in the first place. But overall, the taste and texture of the vinegar will not be altered.
However, as younger generations of people have been produced, use by dates have become a lot more important.
A lot of older generations can remember a time before these dates, and so they are happy to consume food once it passes them. But, younger generations who have always had these dates are less likely to do so.
This is just one of the reasons why you might choose to freeze it, so let’s take a look at what happens to vinegar when you put it in the freezer.
What Happens When Vinegar Freezes?
As we said earlier, it is perfectly safe to freeze vinegar. This is true of all the different types of vinegar that exist, but you should note that there might be some slight differences in freezing reactions depending on the type of vinegar you are putting in the freezer.
But let’s take a basic look at what happens to the vinegar once you place it in the freezer.
The first notable point we should make is that vinegar doesn’t necessarily need to be placed in the freezer in order for it to freeze. Generally, vinegar has a freezing point of approximately 27/28 degrees Fahrenheit, and so depending on where you store it, there is a chance that it may freeze before it actually gets placed in the freezer.
The next thing that you should know about freezing vinegar is that this process may dilute the acidity of the vinegar. When vinegar is left on the shelf over time the acidity of it will break down, and this also occurs in the freezer.
This is one of the main reasons why some people choose not to freeze it. The process of freezing then defrosting the vinegar opens up the chance of water entering the vinegar solution at some point which could then result in it becoming diluted.
Finally, you should know that the act of freezing vinegar can actually impact how you will be able to use it once it defrosts. However, it doesn’t impact the taste of the vinegar and so it will not cause any issues when it comes to cooking.
You might notice, however, that frozen vinegar doesn’t clean as well as fresh vinegar. But if you are only going to use the vinegar for cleaning then there really is no need to freeze it to preserve the shelf life.
How to Freeze Vinegar
Now let’s get to the part that you’ve been waiting for, and that is your guide to freezing vinegar.
Generally, all vinegar will freeze in the same way, but we’ll still take a quick look at some of the specific types to see what freezing does to them.
Freezing vinegar is actually very simple, that’s why we’ve put together this quick guide to freezing it. So if you want to freeze your vinegar, follow these quick and easy steps.
Freezing Large Amounts of Vinegar
First, let’s take a look at how you can freeze large amounts of vinegar. This is great for if you use a lot of vinegar at any one time. So if you want to freeze a lot of vinegar, follow this guide:
- Move the vinegar from its existing container into a freezer-safe and sturdy container (with no cracks or holes) that can be tightly sealed.
- When pouring the vinegar ensure that you leave between 1-2 inches of clear space at the top of the container as vinegar will expand as it freezes. If you do not leave space then the container is at risk of breaking.
- Before you put the lid on the container, cover the top of the container with saran wrap. This will act as an extra layer of securing should the lid not secure properly.
- On top of the saran wrap, attach the lid to the container and seal it shut tight. Once you have sealed it, check around the container to ensure that there are no gaps between the lid and the container.
- Place the container flat inside your freezer and leave it to freeze until you are ready to use it again in the future.
As vinegar freezes at 28 degrees Fahrenheit, it is best to try and get your freezer as close to this as possible. The colder the vinegar gets, the greater the risk of you losing acidity from it.
Freezing Small Amounts of Vinegar
With the rise of meal prep, a lot of people have decided to freeze things into smaller portions so that when it comes to using them, you do not have to defrost a whole batch.
You can also do this with vinegar. So if you want to freeze your vinegar into portion sizes, follow these steps:
- Pour the vinegar directly from its bottle into ice cube trays. Fill as many as you want to or until you run out of vinegar.
- Place the ice cube trays flat inside your freezer for up to 12 hours or until they have frozen completely solid.
- Pop the frozen vinegar cubes out of the trays and transfer them into a freezer-safe storage container or freezer bag until you are ready to use them.
Freezing vinegar in this way is a lot more convenient as it means you can simply defrost a single ice cube when you want to use it, rather than having to defrost an entire tray of vinegar just to use one or two tablespoons.
So now that we’ve covered how to freeze vinegar, let’s take a more specific look at some of the types of vinegar which you might freeze. As we have mentioned, some types of vinegar behave differently, so let’s take a look at them.
First, let’s take a look at white vinegar, also sometimes known as distilled vinegar. But you may not have heard this vinegar be called either of these names, and that is mainly because this type of vinegar is the most common form, and so you simply might have heard it be called vinegar.
Even though you may choose to freeze white vinegar to prolong its shelf life, there is generally no need to. Essentially, white vinegar has a never-ending shelf life, even if it is simply stored in a cupboard. This is why, white vinegar is often seen as the safest type, and is perhaps why it is most popular.
With white vinegar, you don’t have to worry about it ever going off, and so you don’t need to fuss about knowing whether or not it is in date. This is why most people will not freeze their leftover white vinegar.
Another type of vinegar which you probably will have heard of is red wine vinegar. White vinegar is suitable for use in cooking and cleaning, but generally you will only use red wine vinegar when preparing meals. This type of vinegar is made by fermenting red wine, hence its name, and generally this makes it more expensive than other types.
White vinegar doesn’t require any special treatment, you can simply leave it in your cupboard, but unfortunately red wine vinegar is a lot more fussy. Once opened, you should keep your red wine vinegar in the refrigerator to preserve the quality.
You do not need to refrigerate it because it will go off, but the taste of the vinegar can subside if it is not stored in cool temperatures. But even though it needs to be kept in the refrigerator, this doesn’t mean that red wine vinegar will go off, so there is also no real need to freeze it. But if you wish to, you should follow the steps that we outlined above.
Finally, let’s take a look at a vinegar which we mentioned earlier, and that is apple cider vinegar. As we said earlier, apple cider vinegar has become very popular in recent years due to the health benefits that it offers. Due to this, you will mainly find yourself using apple cider vinegar in recipes, rather than when you are cleaning.
As you will probably expect from the pattern that seems to be emerging, apple cider vinegar also does not need to be frozen. It doesn’t necessarily go off, but it is more prone to flavor changes than other types of vinegar.
This is mainly because the apple juice that is fermented to create apple cider vinegar is more prone to turning than other types of vinegar. That being said, this does not mean that the vinegar has gone off, or that it can no longer be used in cooking projects. In fact, a simple shake of the bottle is usually enough to fix the issue.
But, apple cider vinegar does differ from the other types of vinegar that we looked at earlier. This type of vinegar differs as it is actually not recommended that you freeze apple cider vinegar.
Nothing bad happens if you do freeze it, and there’s nothing stopping you from doing this, but the freezing process does alter the taste and texture of the vinegar so the defrosted vinegar will not taste as good as it did before you froze it.
So the consensus is that you can freeze vinegar, but there is a big question as to why you would want to do this. But if you think that freezing your vinegar will benefit you, then follow the guide above to have frozen vinegar that will defrost perfectly.
In short, the main thing that you should take away from this ultimate guide is that vinegar definitely can be frozen.
However, the majority of vinegar (wine based vinegar excluded) can simply be stored in the cupboard, and it will still last you for months on end.
If you do want to freeze your vinegar because this is what will work best for you, all you need to do is follow the guidelines that we laid out above and the freezing process will be simple.
Frequently Asked Questions
What temperature does vinegar freeze at?
Vinegar has a freezing point of 28 degrees Fahrenheit which means that it can freeze without being in the freezer.
So if you store your vinegar in a cold room in your home, or in the garage, there is a chance that your vinegar might freeze without even entering the freezer.
For the best results when freezing your vinegar, you should set your freezer to 28 degrees as anything colder could damage the acidity of your vinegar.
Does Freezing Vinegar harm it?
In most cases, freezing vinegar will do no damage, and you will find yourself with defrosted vinegar that tastes no different to fresh vinegar. But some types of vinegar do not freeze as well as others, for example, apple cider vinegar in particular can taste very different once defrosted to when it is fresh.
So while it will not necessarily harm the vinegar, freezing can change the taste slightly in some cases.
How do you defrost vinegar?
Defrosting vinegar is really simple, all you need to do is follow the same method as you would with pretty much anything else that you freeze. When you decide that you want to use your frozen vinegar, simply move the container from the freezer into the refrigerator and leave it to defrost for a few hours. Once defrosted, the vinegar is then ready to use.