Crisco and other shortening is known for making good pastries. But it’s good to know: does Crisco go bad? We’re here to share some answers, storage tips, links to recipes and more.
You have probably heard of Crisco.
It is a brand of shortening (a type of fat used in cooking) made of plant-based oils, and it is often used to make tender, flaky crust.
Aside from this, Crisco shortening helps make frosting fluffy.
Introduced in 1911, Crisco has gained popularity when it comes to baking, cooking, and grilling.
Now a household name, “Crisco” has become a generic name for shortening of any brand and type.
It’s certainly easier to say that than the three-syllable “shor-ten-ing.”
Since it is a staple in almost every household that frequently cooks and bakes, you may have found a can of unopened Crisco in your cupboard.
Like with many foods that we talk about here on CookingChew, there are two ways to look at how foods “go bad”:
- Food safety – Can a food spoil because of bacteria or molds that can make a person sick?
- Food quality – Is the food still fragrant, tasty, fresh—basically, still enjoyable to eat.
Now you may be wondering, does Crisco go bad?
And if it does, what does bad Crisco smell like?
Can you still use it if it passes its date on the label, and will it still be safe for baking or cooking?
Does Crisco go bad?
The short answer is yes, Crisco does go bad. Fats of any kind can go rancid, and you should always give your shortening a sniff test before using, even if the best-by date hasn’t passed.
Crisco shortening that goes bad usually has been sitting for a long time, kept too warm, or was improperly stored.
Because the product is 100% fat, a lot of people think that it can never go bad, but the opposite is true.
Improper storage, like placing it near a heat source or storing it in an open container, can cause it to go rancid months before its “Best If Used By” date that is stamped on the container.
For the best results, Crisco products should be stored in a cool, dry place away from strong odors, direct sunlight, and sources of heat (like stoves, dishwashers, and refrigerators, but also lightbulbs, sunlight, and the garage).
How to tell if Crisco is bad
Now that you know that shortening does not last forever, you may have wondered how to tell if Crisco is bad.
The first method that you need to apply is to look at the date that is labeled on the can of your Crisco shortening.
That is how the manufacturers inform the consumers about the product’s shelf life.
Crisco shortening does stay in its best state until its “Best If Used By” date.
The “Best If Used By” date tells when a product will be at its peak quality, and this doesn’t necessarily mean that the product will be “bad” after the said date.
If you haven’t seen this code before, it looks something like this: AUG 09 2022, indicating that the product would have the best quality before August 9th, 2022.
However, after that date, you need to examine the shortening itself to know whether it’s already bad or not.
Check your Crisco carefully and ask yourself: has the color or texture changed?
Can you spot some mold?
If so, throw it out and purchase a new one.
Mold usually grows inside if the product is exposed to moisture.
Remember that in the beginning, the product’s milky and yellowish shades can still be seen, but they slowly change once it becomes stale.
When you pull back the safety seal on a fresh can of Crisco, there is usually no smell at all.
If you smell something a bit like paint, turpentine, or anything industrial, it’s rancid, and you should throw it away.
Typically, after the color turns darker, it will start smelling off, and it will be in the process of rancidity.
If you’re planning to use your Crisco but aren’t sure about whether it’s rancid or not, do a taste test.
Dip just the tip of a fork in the normal-looking Crisco and if it’s passed all other tests, taste it.
If the shortening doesn’t taste fresh, and has a paint, turpentine, or any rancid taste at all, dispose of it all and don’t use it in cooking.
Can I use expired Crisco?
Crisco doesn’t have an expiration date printed on its container; instead, the manufacturer includes a “Best If Used By” date, a series of letters and numbers showing the most effective date of the product.
And yes, it’s safe to use the product past its “Best If Used By” date.
However, this is only applicable when you store it properly “in a cool, dry place” and you didn’t spot some key indicators mentioned above of when the shortening has gone bad.
Aside from the fact that Crisco will no longer taste good when it has gone bad, you will also experience digestive upset from a rancid product.
Rancid shortening can cause bacteria to grow; it can give you food poisoning, and you don’t want that.
If you realize that the product is rancid after using it for baking or cooking, be sure to throw out the shortening and do not eat the food that you made.
How long does Crisco last?
Unopened, store-bought shortening can be kept safely for 8 months on the pantry shelf, according to this Food Shelf Life Guide.
So how long does Crisco last?
Unopened solid shortening, such as Crisco shortening, can be stored at room temperature for 8 months or 2 years from the manufacture date.
After you open it, a can of Crisco shortening remains of good quality for 3 months to about 1 year in your pantry.
Bear in mind that the product must stay at room temperature, preferably stored in a cool, dry place away from strong odors, direct sun, and heat for it to last for months.
Crisco manufacturers also suggested refrigerating the product “if you live in a warm climate and prefer to refrigerate shortening.”
They also reminded everyone that refrigerated Crisco is “more firm and looks somewhat cloudy,” but allowing the shortening to room temperature will bring its appearance back to normal.
Moreover, the product must be resealed properly after you open it so you can use it for a long time.
If you open the can and let it contact the air, the fat will be oxidized, which spoils the oil.
Also, make sure to check its “Best If Used By” date because it helps you estimate the period of time that the product keeps its freshness.
A normal food shortening stays fresh for a couple of months, even passing the date as long as you are able to store it properly.
Aside from properly storing it and checking the room temperature, make sure that you also check the packages for holes, dents or damaged seal.
|Crisco Products Shelf Life & Manufacture Date Locations|
|Shortening Can||Shortening Sticks|
|Unopened||2 years from manufacture date||2 years from manufacture date|
|Opened||about 1 year||about 6 months|
|Date location||bottom of can||side of plastic tub|
This table shows the Crisco product’s shelf life as well as where to find the date your product was manufactured.
How to store Crisco
Are you wondering how to store Crisco and extend its period of validity after opening it?
You can extend Crisco’s shelf life by putting it in an airtight box.
- Airtight container
- Crisco shortening
Instructions for storing Crisco at room temperature:
- Cool the shortening down if you use it for cooking or baking beforehand.
- Remove any leftovers from the fat by using different towels.
- Apply layers of towels to filter out the fat remains from the liquid.
- Then, prepare a can or an airtight container so you can pour the shortening into it.
- Put the container in a cool, dry place, preferably in your pantry.
If you can’t find an airtight container, you can use an old coffee can.
Also, store your Crisco in a place that does not get hit by direct sunlight because it can affect the quality of the oil.
This will save the shortening and keep it fresh longer.
More importantly, the shortening needs to be protected from heavy smells, and it should be kept away from the stove and the dishwasher.
If you do not have a pantry, you can store it in your cupboard.
On days when the weather is too hot, it is best to store the Crisco shortening in a fridge.
When you store the shortening in the fridge, it gets firmer and thicker.
Before you use it, take it out an hour and a half to give it time to cool off.
Crisco’s shelf life lasts longer if it is stored the right way.
As a result, you can enjoy more baked or cooked goods.
What does bad Crisco smell like?
When checking if the Crisco shortening is still good enough to use, you need to check if it has a rancid smell.
So what does bad Crisco smell like?
It usually smells like old paint, a detergent, or even a nail polish remover.
If the fat smells like old paint, nail polish remover, or a detergent, it is a sign that the shortening has gone bad.
The color will begin to change, too, as it turns yellow or is a couple of shades darker than usual. If this happens, it means that it is oxidated and rancid.
Should I refrigerate Crisco after opening?
After opening a can of Crisco shortening, it is not necessary to refrigerate it.
The product will stay safe at room temperature before and even after you open it.
Even Crisco suggests consumers store the product on the pantry shelf.
That said, fat-based products, including vegetable shortening, benefit from cold temperatures, so if you want the product to keep its quality after its date, refrigeration is a great idea.
That is why products such as margarine and butter stay much longer in the refrigerator than in the pantry.
Now, if you are in an area where it is always hot and humid, and you prefer to store the products that you bought in the fridge, you can refrigerate Crisco just to keep its quality.
However, there is one caveat here.
Keeping Crisco shortening in the fridge will make it firmer, which means it is going to be difficult to use it for baking and cooking.
Because of that, if you refrigerate the product, it is best to let it leave it out for an hour so it can adjust to room temperature before using it.
This period will allow Crisco to return to normal room temperature and work the way that it is supposed to.
Can you freeze Crisco?
Now that you know that Crisco shortening products can be refrigerated, then the next question is, can you freeze Crisco?
The answer is yes, you can freeze Crisco.
While the product has a long shelf life and you can still use it even after opening it, you can freeze it to get even more time.
All you need to do is to place Crisco in a freezer bag for protection and place it in the freezer.
In this way, you can seal the freshness and prevent it from crystallizing.
To avoid cutting frozen Crisco or defrosting the entire shortening for hours, it is best to portion it.
If you only need a bit at a time, you can put small portions in an ice cube tray.
If you need larger portions, you can use separate freezer bags or airtight containers instead.
But before you freeze the product, you first need to consider if you actually need to do so.
As mentioned earlier, Crisco has an extensive shelf life, and, when stored properly, it can still be used even past its date.
That means that freezing only makes sense if you have no idea when you are going to use it, but you do not want it to go rancid.
The bottom line
Crisco shortening is the secret to some of those favorite fried and baked foods.
Although it is known to have a long shelf life, it is still best to follow the steps on how to make sure that it will stay fresh and usable for as long as possible.
- Original shortening container
- Airtight container
- Keep unused Crisco tightly covered on the pantry shelf. Air is the enemy of fresh shortening.
- For opened Crisco, keep on the original lid of the container. Use clean utensils to remove product from container.
- For Crisco that’s been used in frying, transfer the liquid shortening to an airtight container and use only once or twice more before discarding. Keep tightly covered and transfer to the refrigerator.