Yes, olive oil does go bad. It's made of fat, which means it goes rancid over time. Make sure to consume the product within 24 months of the harvest date.
In addition, get the most bang for your buck and fully enjoy the product by practicing first in and first out. Don't store bottles in the back of your pantry where you'll forget about them.
Olive oil is one of the most versatile and healthy fats in the world and an essential ingredient in many cuisines.
It make an excellent preservative and is often used to jar tuna, sardines, anchovies, vegetables, and more because it provides great flavor and has a long shelf life. There's almost no limit to the type of food that can be jarred under oil, or sott'olio, as they say in Italy.
Funny enough the product is often compared to wine. While the two products have many similarities, the biggest difference is that wine usually gets better with age. While olive oil, especially extra virgin, does not. It gets rancid. The product is more similar to fruit juice. Which is best consumed fresh.
What Does Rancid Mean?
Rancidity is a process in which the product breaks down and develops unpleasant flavors and odors.
Does Olive Oil Lose Health Benefits with Time?
Yes, because when it becomes rancid it breaks down.
It's important to use the product while it's fresh to get all of these incredible benefits.
How to Tell if Your Olive Oil has Gone Bad?
There are a few different ways to tell if the product has gone bad. Smell it, examine the bottle, and if you're brave enough taste it.
If you notice any of the following signs, your olive oil might be expired:
- Foul smell or taste: Fresh EVOO has a fruity, grassy, floral, or spiced aroma and taste. If the product smells musty, fusty, winey, or muddy it may have gone bad.
- Cloudy appearance: Fresh, filtered EVOO is clear and bright. If your product looks cloudy, it may have started to spoil (note: novello or olio nuovo is often cloudy because it’s unfiltered).
- Sediment at the bottom: Over time, the product can develop sediment at the bottom of the container. However, sediment oxidizes more quickly.
How Can I Tell if my Oil is Actually Extra Virgin?
Look for a harvest date, country of origin, and lot number on the back of the bottle. But more importantly, buy from producers and brands you know and love.
Read more about how to tell if your product is actually extra virgin here.
How Long Does It Last?
Olive oil is typically good until 24 to 36 months years from the harvest date. However, shelf life depends on several factors, including the quality of the product, how it is stored, exposure to air, and how it's used.
Here are some general guidelines to follow:
- Unopened bottles of high-quality EVOO can last two to three years if stored in a cool, dark place away from heat and light.
- Once opened, product should be used within two months in order to enjoy its optimal flavors.
- Consume unfiltered product within sixty days of the harvest date.
- Filtered products have a much longer shelf life than unfiltered.
Best Storage Practices
Always store bottles and tins in a cool, dark, and dry place. Don't store it next to the oven or other warm appliances. And don't store it under the sink where there could be a leaky faucet.
Read more about where and how to store the product here.
How to Use Expired Olive Oil
If you have oil that has gone bad, do not use it for cooking or eating. But don't throw it out yet.
Expired product can be used for household purposes such as lubricating tools, removing labels and other sticky items, and polishing certain surfaces and materials.
If you don't have a use for it ask your friends, family, or neighbors. If the last resort is to discard the product make sure to follow local regulations around oil discard. Some counties offer special drop-off locations or pickup in a specific type of container.
Can I Use Expired Oil for Frying?
This depends on how expired the product is. If it smells like prosciutto fat or crayons it may have gone bad and the product can be discarded. However, if the product just smells flat, as if its lost its luster, then it can still be used for frying.
Can I Freeze Olive Oil to Prevent it from Going Bad?
No, freezing or refrigerating will greatly deteriorate the product. If you cannot consume a high quality bottle of EVOO within sixty days of opening it consider giving some to your friends, family, or neighbors.
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