How to Store Cooking Oil for the Long Term – Easy Storage Tips

Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: December 22, 2021
How to Store Cooking Oil for the Long Term – Easy Storage Tips

If you’re thinking of stocking up on cooking oil, you need to know how to properly store it for the long term. The bad news is it is one of those pantry items that are a bit difficult to store for a long time. 

Cooking oil tends to go rancid before the expiration date when not stored the right way. In fact, most polyunsaturated oils turn rancid before they even start to give off a rotten smell. When it goes bad, you lose much of its nutritional benefits. To add, rancid oil also contains free radicals that are bad for the health. 

So, if you want to learn how to store cooking oil long term, please read on…

Does Cooking Oil Spoil?

Does Cooking Oil Spoil

Yes, your cooking oil can go bad if not stored correctly or if it passes its expiration date. In fact, low-quality oil goes rancid faster than the premium options. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to go for high-quality products if you plan on storing them for a very long time. Plus, they can be very safe to use when stored correctly, with some oils lasting for about 5 years.

How Will You Know If the Cooking Oil Has Gone Bad?

How Will You Know If the Cooking Oil Has Gone Bad

The leading cause of rotting in most food products is bacteria. However, bacteria cannot grow on oils. Instead, oil becomes rancid and starts producing some toxic compounds. There are many signs of cooking oil going rancid or about to go bad. The main sign is the rotten or sour smell. If you notice a hint of awful smell from your oil, then it may be going bad.

When oil starts going rancid, its color will change because of the molds growing in the container. You may also notice a change in thickness. This happens when it starts to rot. Rancidity destroys some of the vitamins in the cooking oil, so there’s really not much benefit in using such oil.

What Is the Shelf Life of Cooking Oil?

What Is the Shelf Life of Cooking Oil

When stored in a pantry at room temperature, cooking oil can last for up to 24 months. But it’s very much different once you open the container and start using it. At this point, the shelf life shortens to only 6 months. 

When stored correctly in an airtight bottle and then placed in a dark, cool place, it can last for about 5 years.

How to Store Cooking Oil Long-Term

The main factors that affect the quality of cooking oil are light, heat, and oxygen. So if you want your product to last longer, remember to keep it away from these elements. 

Another thing… make sure you also consider the expiration date and the container used to store it.

Don’t Leave the Bottle Open?

One of the main things that can spoil cooking oils is oxidation. Therefore, it’s crucial that you reduce the oxygen content in the oil bottle. Unfortunately, you can’t use oxygen absorbers when storing oil, but you can keep the container closed. The only way you can get rid of the oxygen already in the container is by using food saver devices. But, even these devices can’t create a 100% oxygen-free environment.

Therefore, the best option is to determine how much oil your household uses in a year. For example, if your family uses a gallon of oil per annum, you should split it into small containers that you can consume within 60 days. 

This means that you’ll only need about 6 bottles every year, but make sure you keep the one you’re using closed. Remember that once the bottle is opened, the oil can only last for only 6 months, after which it starts to go bad.

Stay Away From Plastic Bottles

Most low-quality cooking oils come in plastic bottles that are not 100% airtight. In fact, with time, tiny holes can start forming on these bottles that can allow oxygen through. Therefore, if you plan on storing oil long-term, you may end up with a messy pantry, thanks to the leaking oil bottle. 

So it’s better to go for metal tins or even glass bottles that can keep the air out.

Keep It Away From Direct Light

Another element that can turn your cooking oil rancid within the shortest time possible is light. Exposure to light can degrade some nutritional elements of the cooking oils and the production of antioxidants. 

Keep the oil somewhere dark and away from the light. You can also go for high-quality brands that package their products using opaque containers to keep them fresh for an extended period.

Keep It Cool

Heat also plays a crucial role in the lifespan of cooking oil. In fact, certain long-term studies have confirmed that when olive oil is stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it can last for over 36 months. But when kept at 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, it goes rancid within a maximum of 8 months. Even when the olive oil isn’t exposed to light or air, this can happen.

Therefore, it’s crucial that you monitor the temperature where you store your cooking oil long-term. You should keep the temperature below 60 degrees Fahrenheit or use it within 6 months as a rule of thumb.

Can I Store the Cooking Oil in the Freezer?

One of the best methods for storing cooking oil is freezing it. Some sensitive oils like truffle and almond oils that are sensitive to heat must be refrigerated. 

The low temperature will force the oil molecules to slow down and become cloudy. But becoming cloudy doesn’t necessarily mean that the cooking oil has gone bad; it just means that it is frozen.

So before using it, you will have to bring it to room temperature, and the cloudiness disappears. Make sure that you keep the temperature constant as repeated heating and cooling can make your oil go rancid faster.

Store It in Nitrogen-Flushed Bottles

Some cooking oils like nut or flaxseed oils are prone to oxidation. This means that even a tiny amount of oxygen can force the oil to go rancid faster. 

When dealing with these oils, it is always a good idea to look for nitrogen-flushed bottles. After all, manufacturers use nitrogen-flushing to remove oxygen in the bottles before sealing them.

Rotation

Since cooking oils go rancid within 24 months, it’s always a good idea to purchase only what you can use. If you don’t have a cool storage space, then you may have to use them before the 6 months elapse. But make sure you always put the newer bottles at the back of the pantry.

FAQs

What is the shelf life of unopened cooking oils stored in a dark and cool place?

Generally, the oil doesn’t spoil at once. Instead, it’s a gradual process. But after a particular duration, this item may become too sour to use. Some oils like hydrogenated oils can last for about 5 years, while lard and tallow last for less than a year. 

Here are some of the more common cooking oils and how long they last:

  • Peanut oils: 36 to 48 months
  • Olive oil: 36 months
  • Coconut oils: 24 months
  • Sunflower oil: 24 months
  • Corn oil: 12 months
  • Palm oil: 36 months

Is eating rancid oil safe?

Rancid oil smells and tastes very bad. It lacks some crucial healthy components. Fortunately, it is still safe to use as it cannot cause food poisoning. It will not also make you sick, like consuming rotten veggies or expired meat. 

However, some studies have confirmed that rancid oil can have some long-term adverse effects on your health. There are animal studies confirming that rancid oil could slow down their growth and affect their immune systems.

Can you use antioxidants to store oil?

Yes, antioxidants can help prevent oxidation. Therefore, most producers use them to increase their product’s shelf life. One of the most common antioxidants found in most oils is vitamin E. Thus, it’s a good thing to look for products with antioxidants. 

Keep in mind that antioxidants can increase the shelf life of oils to 5 years. Plus, synthetic antioxidants have a longer lifespan than natural ones.

Which types of oil last longer?

Generally, some oils can last longer because of the kind of fats they come with. Oils with polyunsaturated fats can go rancid faster than the ones with monounsaturated fats. On the other hand, the ones containing more polyphenols can last even longer.

Takeaway

Like all other ingredients in our kitchens, cooking oil can also rot when not stored correctly. Exposure to oxygen can result in oxidation, shortening its shelf life. Other factors that can induce rancidity in oil include heat and light. Therefore, if you want your cooking oil to last longer, you need to keep it away from these elements. This means storing it in a glass or metal container, removing all the oxygen, and keeping the temperature constant. The best temperature for storing cooking oils for an extended period is about 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

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