February 15, 2021

Have you been Googling, “Does olive oil go bad?” 

If you’re anyone like me, then you must have found a bottle or two of unused fancy olive oil in your pantry. Now, looking at the dirty bottle, you must be wondering if the oil inside is still safe to use. After all, can olive oil go bad, or can it be kept around indefinitely without being spoiled?

Does olive oil go bad?

So, does olive oil expire? It absolutely does! 

Like all fruits, the olive (Olea europaea) is a perishable fruit with a limited shelf life. This means that olive oil, which is essentially made by compressing the olives, also has a shelf life after which the oil turns bad.

Rancid olive oil won’t make you fall ill per se. However, using it in your cooking will undoubtedly spoil the taste of your dish.

Even though olive oil can easily last at least 18 months, it starts aging the moment that it’s bottled. This means that the bottle you find at your grocery store has olive oil that has already started aging. You must check the best-by date of olive oil before buying it. This way, you can rest assured that you’re buying a fresh bottle.

How to tell when olive oil has gone bad

Here are two ways in which you can tell if your olive oil had turned rancid:

Sniff the oil 

Rancid olive oil will have a weird smell. It will smell like crayons. It might also smell like Elmer’s glue. Pour out a small amount and sniff it. If it smells off, then it’s a clear sign that your stored oil has expired.

Taste the oil

Another way to tell if your stored olive oil has gone bad is to taste it. If you can’t sniff the bad smell, then taste a small amount of oil. If it’s completely tasteless, tastes like spoiled nuts, or feels greasy in your mouth, then the oil has turned bad.

Tips from the pros

You must discard the spoiled olive oil responsibly. Don’t throw it down the drain, as it will clog your drain pipe. The best way to dispose of the expired oil is to pour it in a non-recyclable container with a tight cap and throw it into the trash.

How long does olive oil last?

Now, let’s see how long olive oil can last without turning rancid.

Open bottle of olive oil

Once you open a bottle of olive oil, you must try to use it as is or via a sprayer as quickly as possible. It’s best if you use the open bottle within three months.

However, if you plan on storing the opened bottle in a cool, dry cupboard or your pantry, then it can last for about 18 months. Just make sure that you put the cap on as tightly as possible. 

Unopened olive oil

As long as you store it away from light and heat, unopened olive oil can last anywhere between 18 months and two years from the day it was bottled.

It would be best if you kept it safely in a dark, dry area of your kitchen or pantry to extend its life. If the oil starts smelling or tasting funky at any point, then you must dispose of it right away.

Shelf life of olive oil

The common question still persists: What is your olive oil’s shelf life?

Most types of olive oil can last 18 to 24 months from the time that they are bottled. However, extra virgin olive oil is less processed, which affects its shelf life. They last for about 12 to 18 months from the time that they are bottled.

After that, the oil will develop bitter or acrid notes, which will affect the taste of your dishes.

Some brands of olive oil come with best-buy dates. If you don’t see a best-buy date on your bottle, then it’s best to label it with the date of purchase. This will help you have a clear idea of how long the oil has been sitting in your pantry.

Tips on storing olive oil

Here are some helpful tips on storing olive oil that will help you prolong its life:

  • Store the olive oil in a cool, dry, and dark place, ideally between 60°F and 72°F. It can be placed in a kitchen cabinet far removed from the stove, your refrigerator, or your pantry.
  • Don’t store the oil in the fridge if you live in a colder region. The oil will freeze and become challenging to use in cooking.
  • When storing the oil in the refrigerator, be mindful that it will start looking a bit cloudy. This doesn’t mean that the oil has gone bad.
  • Try to keep the oil in amber or dark green bottles. The dark-colored glass will help block out the light and prevent oxidation. This also  prevents the oil from turning rancid sooner than its lifespan.
  • Make sure to tightly secure the cap back on the oil bottle once you’ve opened the seal. If the oil gets in contact with the moisture in the air, it will start to oxidize.
  • If you don’t cook with olive oil too often, then buy smaller bottles. This will help you finish the stored oil before it becomes rancid.
  • Even if you have purchased a large bottle of olive oil, transfer some into a smaller bottle. You can use the oil in the smaller bottle daily and refill it once you’ve used it all.

This way, you won’t have to expose the oil stored in the bigger bottle to air every time you have to cook with olive oil. 

The bottom line

Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t improve with age. As it is, it’s best to use it judiciously the moment you open it. Still, if you feel like storing it for later use, the guide above should more than direct you on just how to keep it accordingly.

Other than that, this collated guide should be more than enough to make you a savvy olive oil user that you already are!

About the author

Meet Go-Go-Gadget Renee'. Her passion for #kitchen gadgets is matched only by her love for tech. A real #foodie, she's all heart for red wine and delicious meals. #CookingChewTribe

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