Olive Oil’s Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad or Expire? How To Tell

Have you been buying olive oil in bulk and using it sparingly so you can enjoy it for longer and save money at the same time? Did you know it’s one of the costliest mistakes you can ever make?

Yes, you read that right. You’re wasting your olive oil, putting them in the pantry for so long, and only using them from time to time.

And now, you’re thinking: What the hell are we talking about? Does olive oil go bad?

News Flash: Olive oil does go bad. So if you’ve been storing lots of bottles of “good” olive oil and only having a drizzle now and then, you’re wasting money.

But we’ve got some good news. While it doesn’t last forever, the good news is it doesn’t go bad quickly.

So how long does olive oil last? Read this article to find out!

When you do, you’ll also learn about:

  • Why does olive oil go bad?
  • How to know if olive oil has gone bad?
  • How to store olive oil?
  • How to use expired olive oil?

Are you ready to discover everything you need to know about olive oil? Then let’s get it on!

Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

Unlike wine, olive oil doesn’t get better with age. Keep in mind that olive oil is a liquid fat collected from olives considered fruits, so olive oil will eventually go bad just like all fruits do.

But here’s one thing we want you to understand: Olive oil goes bad in the sense that it will become rancid, but not to the point that it will get spoiled and make you feel sick.

Why Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

There are plenty of reasons why olive oil goes bad. To prolong the shelf life of your olive oil as much as you can, you must familiarize yourself with what these factors are.

You should be aware of four essential factors—Sunlight, Heat, Oxygen, and Time. The first three factors—sunlight, heat, and oxygen—cause rancidity because it triggers one unwanted chemical reaction: oxidation.

And just a heads up, we will need a bit of chemistry to explain the process. So here it goes.

Once olive oil is oxidized, peroxides form. And when these substances decompose, fermentation occurs, which causes your beloved oil to become rancid.

Lastly, we’ll also have to talk about how time can cause olive oil to go bad. You see, olive oil gradually breaks down over time (even if it isn’t exposed to light, high temperatures, and air). When this happens, the oil’s acidity level increases which cause the oil’s flavor to weaken.

How Long Does Olive Oil Last?

We hope we were able to give you a glimpse of how olive oil becomes rancid over time, and now we’re going to discuss the most critical information in this article—the shelf life of olive oil.

To be honest, though, determining the exact shelf life of olive oil is a bit tricky because you need to know the oil’s harvest date to do so.

Pro Tip: If you’re planning to buy an expensive bottle of extra virgin olive oil, ensure that it comes with a harvest date, and the harvest date should only be the previous year, so you can make the most out of your investment.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers indicate the harvest date in their products. Instead, they provide the consumers with the best by date.

Unlike expiration dates, the best by date is not about safety but quality. The printed date is the manufacturer’s promise to retain its best quality until the said date.

But here’s the catch: It gives us no clue when the product will start to become rancid.

To help you out, we’ve compiled the shelf life guidelines from most manufacturers below:

1. Olive Oil (Unopened)

–      Harvest date +2 years

Fun Fact: Extra virgin olive oil has a shorter shelf life (Harvest date+ 12 to 18 months) because it’s less processed.

–      Best by date + 3 to 6 months

2. Olive Oil (Opened)

–      6 to 8 months after opening

How to Know if Olive Oil Has Gone Bad?

image of How to Know if it Has Gone Bad

Did you know that most of us aren’t aware that the olive oil in our kitchen is already rancid because it’s the only taste of olive oil that we know?  (*)

That’s a shocker, right?

Well, we’re about to change all of that. So what does fresh olive oil taste like? Well, that would depend on its quality, but generally, the taste of olive oil ranges from grassy or herb-like to fruity with a peppery kick.

Pro Tip: If you want to know what fresh olive oil tastes like, here’s one simple hack: eat a teaspoon of the oil right after you open a fresh bottle.

And if you want to taste olive oil like a pro, you need to identify its aromas first. (*)

With that said, you should smell and taste your olive oil to determine if it’s already rancid. Now that you’re aware of what olive oil should taste like, let us talk about how it shouldn’t taste and smell like:

  • Musty smell
  • It smells like crayons and glue
  • Wine or vinegar-like taste
  • Sour and acidic taste
  • Similar taste with wet wood

In addition to these tastes and smells, other signs of spoiled olive oil to watch out for include muddy sediment and mold growth.

How to Store Olive Oil?

While rancidity is inevitable, you’ll be happy to know that there’s one thing that you can do to delay it—make sure your olive oil is stored correctly. Here are the proper storage tips on how to do that:

1. Store olive oil in a cool, dry, and dark place.

When storing oil to preserve its freshness, you need to keep the oil away from the common causes of rancidity—heat, air, and light. With that in mind, the best storage place for your olive oil is in your pantry or kitchen cabinet located far from your stove or oven.

Should you refrigerate olive oil? While it seems like your refrigerator is the best cold and dark place for olive oil, refrigerating olive oil isn’t recommended for two main reasons:

  • When kept in the fridge, olive oil tends to become thick and cloudy, affecting its taste and aroma.
  • The cold temperatures inside the refrigerator can cause condensation inside the bottle, making it rancid faster.

Pro Tip: For best results, store olive oil between 55 degrees and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (*)

2. If you have a giant bottle of olive oil, decant it.

To minimize air exposure, you should transfer a small amount of olive oil in a dark glass jar, smaller bottles, or a fusti, then store the rest of the olive oil in your pantry or kitchen cabinet.

3. For olive oil in plastic packaging, it’s recommended that you transfer it into a dark-colored jar.

Plastic packaging and transparent jars are olive oil’s biggest enemies. Aside from the fact that plastic tends to leak odors and chemicals, its transparent nature won’t give olive oil the light protection it needs.

With that said, we recommend transferring the olive oil in the dark (either dark green or amber) colored glass bottles.

How to Use Expired Olive Oil?

Is it safe to use bad olive oil? As mentioned, rancid olive oil won’t make you sick. However, it will make your food smell and taste weird.

So what can you do with bad olive oil? Should you just throw it out? No, please don’t! There are plenty of ways to use old olive oil. Here are some of them:

1. Exfoliant

Thanks to its deep penetrating action, olive oil is excellent at removing dead skin cells and leaving your skin clean, glowing, and healthy-looking.

To turn it into an exfoliant, mix ½ cup of rancid olive oil with a teaspoon of sugar, sea salt, and ground coffee and massage it to your skin for a few minutes.

2. Moisturizer

Olive oil has humectant properties that make it an excellent moisturizing agent too. It also contains vitamin E, K, and other antioxidants that can help nourish the skin.

Leather Conditioner and Furniture Polish

The use of olive oil isn’t limited to cooking or beauty—it can be used on furniture as well.

All you need to do is dab a few drops of olive oil on furniture and leather, then wipe it with a clean cloth to bring back its shine.

3. Paint Remover

Olive oil is also an excellent solvent that you can use to remove paint from your hands after a home renovation project.

You just need to rub some olive oil on your hands and let it sit for a while before wiping your hands clean.

Are you buying the right olive oil? Check this interesting video to learn more:

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, that big bottle of expensive oil in your pantry is going to go bad eventually. Its shelf life ranges from 6 months (opened) to only 24 months (unopened bottle).

So if you’ve been buying olive oil in bulk and just letting it sit on your pantry for months to years, you’re wasting your money and, not to mention, good olive oil!

Maybe it’s time you stop some of your wrong olive oil practices and start storing and using your olive oil right. Everything you need to do is already in this article, so go ahead and just get it done.

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