Canola Oil Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad or Expire? How Long Does It Last?

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You saw online that canola oil is good for your health, so you went ahead and bought big bottles of it. Unfortunately, news surfaced that it comes with a few potential downsides, so you decided to let the bottles gather dust at the back of your pantry.

But the final verdict is in. Canola oil contains omega 3 fatty acids that are essential to a well-balanced diet, but it must be used in moderation, and variety is recommended. (*)

And so you decided to bring Canola oil back to your kitchen. But upon checking the bottles, they were already months past the expiration date.

So you sit there, thinking: does canola oil go bad?

Listen: Like any other type of oil, canola oil can go bad.

Because of this, you must know when your canola oil can go bad so you can maximize its shelf life. So how long does canola oil last? Read this article to know the answer!

Additionally, you’ll also learn everything you need to know about canola oil, including:

Are you excited to know the answers? Then, keep on reading to find out!

Does Canola Oil Go Bad?

As we’ve said, Canola oil can go bad. However, it doesn’t go bad when stored properly but becomes rancid instead.

  • Fun Fact: Due to prolonged storage, oils will undergo the rancidification process, a chemical reaction that causes fat molecules to break down.

As a result, the quality of the oil degrades over time until it becomes rancid. But as long as you don’t see any signs of spoilage, you can still use canola oil.

However, it can provide your dishes with a weird taste, so it’s totally up to you if you’d want to use it or not.

How Long Does Canola Oil Last?

While it’s good that canola oil doesn’t spoil when stored properly, the rancidification process makes it difficult to predict how long canola oil lasts.

Because of this, we must pay extra attention to the oil’s expiration date or the printed date on the bottle.

This date is not an expiration date but a best by date, which is an estimate until you can expect the oil to be at its peak quality. But here’s the confusing part: the oil may or may not get rancid beyond the said date, so you can still use it for your dishes.

To help you determine when you can use your canola oil, here are some shelf life guidelines that you need to know about:

  • Unopened Canola Oil: Expiration Date + 6 to 12 months
  • Opened Canola Oil: 6 to 12 months after opening

How to Tell if Canola Oil Has Gone Bad?

Please keep in mind that that expected shelf life that we’ve shared with you is applicable only on a bottle of canola oil that has been stored under the proper storage conditions. If it’s not stored the right way, it will spoil and no longer be safe for consumption.

So how to tell if canola oil has gone bad? Inspect your canola oil and watch out for these signs:

1. Off Smell

Typically, fresh canola oil doesn’t have any smell. So if it smells different or has any strong smells, it means it’s either already rancid or spoiled.

A sour or bitter smell indicates spoilage. On the other hand, you’ll know when the oil already becomes rancid when it starts smelling like detergent or paint.

2. Changes in Appearance

Fresh canola oil is clear and has a pale golden color. If it takes on a darker shade or becomes extremely turbid, it’s better than discard it right away.

  • Pro Tip: Slight cloudiness and crystallization are exceptions to this rule. It’s natural for canola oil to have such texture when stored in a cold place. You just need to transfer it to a warmer place to eliminate the unwanted texture.

3.   Mold or Microbial Growth

When checking your canola oil, make sure to check the bottle too. If there’s mold growth around the cap or at the opening of the bottle, throw it right away as it indicates spoilage.

  • Pro Tip: Mold growth is not a usual occurrence for oils, but it may happen if you don’t keep the cap clean at all times. This is why it’s important to wipe off any resides from the cap before sealing the bottle after every use.

4.  Weird Taste

If the canola oil looks and smells okay but has been stored months past the expiration date, it’s recommended that you get a small amount and taste it a bit.

Canola oil has a neutral taste, so any intense flavors indicate that the oil has already either spoiled or become rancid.

How to Store Canola Oil?

You must learn proper food storage to prevent the canola oil from going bad. Fortunately, the proper storage conditions for canola oil are pretty easy.

With that said, here are the proper food storage tips that you need to know when storing canola oil:

1.  Protect canola oil from heat, humidity, and light.

The rancidification process occurs due to oxidation. The latter occurs when the oil is exposed to extreme heat, air, and light.

With these in mind, it’s a must that you store an unopened bottle of canola oil in a cool, dry, and dark place like your pantry or a kitchen cabinet. Just make sure that the storage place is not near your stove or oven.

  • Pro Tip: While it’s safe to refrigerate temperature, we don’t recommend that you do so because the oil crystallizes and becomes slightly turbid when exposed to lower temperatures.

As a result, you need to warm it up to bring back its clear texture. Unfortunately, warming canola oil will cause it to get rancid a bit faster.

2.  But if you live in a place with a warm climate and high humidity, refrigerating it can be a good idea.

However, you need to protect the oil from fluctuating temperatures to delay the rancidification process. That’s why it’s important to return the oil inside the refrigerator right after using it.

3. Transfer it to an amber-colored bottle.

Another way to protect your canola oil from light is to transfer it to a dark-colored glass bottle (if stored in either a plastic or light-colored bottle).

4. Keep your opened bottle tightly sealed at all times.

Bad news: the quality of an opened bottle of canola oil deteriorates faster than an unopened bottle of canola oil. This is due to air exposure which causes oxidation.

To protect your canola oil from air exposure, you must screw its lid tightly after every use.

Other Commonly Asked Questions

What are the best substitutes for canola oil?

If you have rancid canola oil and need it asap, you can always go for sunflower oil as it has the same mild taste as canola oil. However, if you have olive oil, you can use this healthier alternative too.

Does canola oil contain trans-fat?

Yes, canola oil contains minute amounts of trans-fat. Most vegetable oils contain trans-fats as these are by-products of the deodorization process that they go through.
If you want an oil that’s free of trans-fats, look for cold-press, refined, or virgin oils (*).

Should you freeze canola oil?

Yes, you can freeze canola oil. It freezes pretty well as its freezing point is between 2 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just don’t expect it to be frozen solid since it’s not water. Instead, it becomes a bit hard, thicker, and more viscous.
However, we firmly believe there’s no need to freeze canola oil since doing so isn’t going to extend its shelf life. Frozen canola oil shelf life is the same as the shelf life of refrigerated canola oi.

What are the risks of consuming expired canola oil?

As mentioned, old oil will become rancid. The rancid oil may deliver a weird taste to the dishes you’ll use it for.
The good news is that off-taste is the biggest risk you’ll get when consuming expired canola oil because there’s only a low risk that you’ll get sick from it. Only people with a sensitive digestive system feel minimal abdominal discomfort when consuming canola oil.

In Summary

Does canola oil go bad? Yes, it goes bad to the point that it will become rancid. Only when it’s not stored under the right conditions will it become spoiled.

With that said, you must follow proper food storage tips when storing canola oil to prevent spoilage and delay the rancidification and oxidation processes. In this way, you can enjoy fresh canola oil for longer.

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