Olive oil is a kitchen staple; most people will have a bottle or two in the pantry. Whether you buy yours in bulk or just like to have a bottle around for special occasions, sometimes you may find yourself sniffing an open bottle wondering whether it’s still good to use. To help you figure it out, let’s explore the shelf life of olive oil, shall we?
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Does Olive Oil Go Bad?
Yes. Though it has a relatively long shelf life, olive oil eventually does go bad. You see, there is no difference between olive oil and fruit juice. Both are pressed from fruits. As such, in the same way a bottle of orange juice is expected to go bad after some time, a bottle of olive oil is too.
However, even though olive oil will have an expiration date marked on the package, it will not necessarily expire. Only the quality will deteriorate, which means, the oil can still be safe to use after this date. The only difference between now and the time you bought the oil is that the taste will be off and the food item with which it is used may taste somewhat flat.
How Long Does Olive Oil Last?
According to Health Line, most olive oils will last between eighteen and twenty four months from the time they are packaged. This lifespan, however, is different from that of extra virgin olive oils. Because they are less processed, the majority will last somewhere between twelve and eighteen months from when they are packaged.
Most bottles will have a packaging or best-by date stated. If the ones you are looking to buy don’t have these, consider buying brands that have them or be prepared to mark the date of purchase on the bottles before storage. It will help you have an idea of how long it’s been sitting in the storage and how much time you have before it goes.
After this timespan, your olive oil may become sour or rancid, altering the taste of your food in a way that makes it unenjoyable.
Also, once you have broken the seal of an olive oil bottle, plan to use it within thirty to ninety days. An opened bottle of olive oil can degrade pretty quickly because of oxidation that picks up as soon as the seal is broken. That’s why the oil should be consumed fast. If you don’t cook often, consider buying smaller bottles.
The following table summarizes the lifespan of olive oil when stored at room temperature.
|Type of Olive Oil||Pantry/Kitchen Cabinet|
|Unopened olive oil||18 to 24 months|
|Opened olive oil||1 to 3 months|
|Extra Virgin olive oil||12 to 18 months|
4 Tips to Tell if Olive Oil Has Gone Bad
While olive oil has an impressive shelf life, once opened, its quality drops fast. If you have an open bottle in the pantry that you have been saving for a special occasion, here are things to do to find out if it is still good.
1. Sniff It
Olive oils will vary greatly in aroma and flavor based on the kind of olives used. For the most part, the smell will range from spicy to floral to buttery.
It is important to know what your olive oil smells like when fresh so you can recognize when the scent is off. If it smells like putty or crayons, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
2. Taste It
Another way to identify olive oil that has gone rancid is through taste. Simply pour a little bit of the oil into a teaspoon and taste. And no, a small amount won’t get you sick.
Oil that has expired will mostly have a flat or musty taste. If there is a peppery kick in your throat, your oil can still be consumed. The sting is actually a good thing, as in most cases it signifies the presence of antioxidants.
3. Check the Best-By Date
The best-by date can help you figure out whether your olive oil is good to use. If the oil has been sitting in the pantry longer than advised earlier in this post, it probably has become rancid and should be thrown away.
4. Inspect the Cap for Mold
It is quite rare that olive oil will develop mold but it’s not unheard of. If you see mold near the cap or any other growth that is suspicious, get rid of the oil.
5 Tips to Store Olive Oil
Exposing olive oil to air, heat, or light will accelerate the spoilage of olive oil. Luckily, these culprits can be avoided by following these tips:
1. Purchase Olive Oil Packaged in Opaque Bottles
One of the biggest olive oil enemies is light, therefore, you should always go for oil in opaque containers. If the grocery store has only clear-bottled oil, make sure to transfer the product in an opaque bottle before storage. It is also important that you place the bottle away from sunlight.
2. Store Away From Heat Sources
It can be tempting to place your olive oil right next to the stove for quicker access, but that will only make the oil age faster. Keep olive oil in a cool place preferably where the temperature does not fluctuate. We recommend storing it in the pastry, but in the kitchen cabinet where you keep other spices is good enough.
3. Keep it Tightly Sealed
Always recap your bottle of olive oil after use. It locks air out, which helps preserve the oil’s quality and integrity.
So, if you are using a spout to help pour out the oil, ensure that the spout is able to seal tightly. You want to keep out as much oxygen as possible, as air can degrade the oil and turn it rancid. That said, if the bottle that came with the oil cannot seal completely, consider transferring the product in an airtight container.
4. Store in the Right Container
If by any chance you’re going to transfer olive oil into another container, make sure the container is made from material that won’t make the oil deteriorate.
Avoid storing the oil in a plastic container, for instance, as it can absorb chemicals from the container. Similarly, do not store the oil in containers made from iron, copper, or other reactive metals, as it can react with the metal and become toxic.
5. Consider Bag-in-Box Options
This is especially important if you are buying olive oil in bulk. Olive oil is expensive, thus it can be tempting to purchase the largest bottle possible. While this can be a good strategy to save money, keep in mind that the larger the container, the longer the oil will be exposed to heat, air, and light before you can finish it all.
If you want to purchase olive oil in bulk, we recommend going for a bag-in-box container that will help minimize exposure to elements that may cause the product to degrade.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Olive Oil
Although using rancid olive oil will likely not make you sick, it may ruin your dishes by introducing an unpleasant flavor.
Also, olive oil often has plenty of health benefits. When it becomes rancid, it loses some of its antioxidant properties, making it less beneficial to our bodies. During rancidity, the oil undergoes oxidation whereby oxygen molecules start a chemical reaction that breaks down the antioxidants in the oil.
Olive oil that has undergone oxidation will not make you ill, but it will typically not offer the same nutritional boost as fresh oil. To reap maximum perks from olive oil, consume it before the specified best-before date.
Can You Freeze Olive Oil?
Yes, you can, but you should not. Why? At such a cold temperature, your olive oil will solidify, making it difficult to use on a whim. Using such oil will mean placing the bottle at a warm temperature to melt the oil, and as we mentioned, exposing olive oil to higher temperatures than recommended can make it degrade quickly.
Not just that. The freezer can form condensation on the inside of the container, which may speed up rancidity, defeating the entire process of having the oil in the freezer in the first place.
If you live in a hot climate where a pantry may not be the best place to store your olive oil, it can be tempting to place the oil in the refrigerator or freezer. However, we strongly advise against it. We would rather you buy your oil in smaller bottles and use it quickly.
Olive oil will degrade quickly if stored poorly. Make sure you are placing yours in a cool pantry or cabinet away from heat and light. Also, ensure the bottle is always properly sealed; it will help lock oxygen out while retaining the oil’s potency. To enjoy as many health benefits as possible, try using olive oil when it’s still fresh.