As the balsamic vinegar ages in the barrel, it takes on the wood flavors and its acidity mellows. The result is a dark syrup that is truly delectable. It is usually used as a dressing for salads, but it can be enjoyed drizzled on fresh berries and other fruits, as a finishing sauce for grilled meats and roasted vegetables or even over vanilla ice cream. Unlike some condiments like mayonnaise or ketchup that can go bad and be dangerous to ingest, real traditional balsamic vinegar doesn’t have an expiration date, as long as it is unopened.
Once you open the bottle, it will keep for years but the quality will slowly deteriorate over time. If you find it starts to smell rancid or if the flavor changes, it’s probably time to throw it away.
To keep your balsamic vinegar at its best, store it in a cool dark place like the pantry or a cabinet that is not near heat. Heat will change the flavor and cause it to deteriorate more quickly. You should also keep it away from sunlight as light can affect its color and flavor.
As a general rule, you should avoid buying balsamic vinegar that is mass-produced and made in large batches as this type of vinegar can become less potent over time. Try to buy locally-produced balsamic vinegar that is made by small businesses in your City, State or Country so you can be sure that the vinegar was made with love and thought.