Chances Are, You’re Storing Your Vinegar Wrong
Think twice before stashing an opened bottle of red wine vinegar in your pantry.
Vinegar is a great way to bring extra flavor to your cooking—the brightness accentuates other flavors and keeps your palate refreshed and ready for the next bite. Ever bite into a salad dressed with too much olive oil and not enough vinegar? You’re experiencing a lack of balance, and although you may not be able to detect it as easily in other foods, balance is present all the time. That’s why we recommend keeping several types of vinegar on hand to splash into any dish to bring extra brightness and lift to every meal.
Vinegar is kept on the shelves at the grocery store, so you probably assume that it can be kept in your pantry or cupboards, but those are actually not the best place for it. Good vinegars are made with alcohol, and over time the exposure to the air can cause the alcohol to evaporate. A nice red or white wine vinegar is made with, yes, wine, and part of the appeal is the flavor and complexity that small amount of alcohol provides. Sort of like wine, the repeated exposure to sunlight and heat can change the flavor of vinegar, making it far less desirable. In some cases, the liquid will continue to ferment which will make it overly sour, unappealing, and cloudy. A good rule of thumb is to taste your vinegar, if it’s super acidic (like apple cider or white distilled) you can leave it at room temperature. For less acidic items (generally high-end products like balsamic or wine vinegars) they’re going to be less self-preserving, and popping them into the refrigerator can help keep their flavor consistent.