Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

Due to similarities in presentation and marketing, you might think that extra virgin olive oil is like wine. Many people do. Both are extracted from fruit, traditionally packaged in fancy bottles with beautifully designed labels, and often given as gifts. But while they have much in common, there is one important difference: Wine often gets better with age. Olive oil does not. Time — along with light, heat, and oxygen — causes olive oil to degrade and turn rancid. When it comes to extra virgin olive oil, fresh is best. 

How long is olive oil good for?

Olive oil is good for one year. While some industry experts claim unopened packages of properly stored oil can be good for up to two years after harvesting, we recommend using it within one year for optimal freshness. Even when packaged in our Pantry Pouch, which guards against light, heat, and oxygen, the polyphenols in the oil will naturally begin to degrade approximately six months after harvesting. Using the oil within one year of the harvest date is the easiest way to ensure you don’t experience the flavor-diminishing effects of rancidity. Of course, once the oil is opened for use, a new countdown begins. 

How long does olive oil last after opening?

Taking the lid off a bottle of extra virgin olive oil immediately exposes it to light and oxygen, which accelerates the degradation process. With that in mind, most experts recommend using your olive oil within 30-60 days of opening. This will allow you to fully enjoy your EVOO’s distinctive flavors and natural health benefits. Now, if you have oil that’s already been opened, you’re probably wondering whether it’s still good. Lucky for you, a color inspection, quick sniff, and a simple taste test will let you know.

 

How can I tell if my olive oil is fresh?

The freshest olive oil is green. Oil that is degraded by air, heat, and chemicals will lose the green color, often turning yellow and cloudy. Fresh olive oil has a pungent, almost fruity scent. Rancid olive oil tends to smell like wax or putty. Degraded olive oil tastes heavy, musty, and metallic. Fresh extra virgin olive oil should taste lively, slightly bitter, with a hint of grassy flavor and a peppery burn at the back of the throat. This burn, which is similar to the sensation you get from a fresh ginger shot, is primarily due to oleocanthal, a polyphenol that gives EVOO many of its health benefits. That little burn lets you know it’s fresh. So, let’s say you gave your olive oil a taste and realized it’s no longer good. Should you be worried? Not really.

Can expired olive oil make you sick?

The good news is that, unlike spoiled meat or out-of-date dairy products, rancid EVOO won’t make you sick. That being said, expired extra virgin olive oil does lose all of its nutritional value and health benefits — as well as its delicious flavor. No vitamins. No health benefits. No flavor.  Sounds like expired olive oil is pretty useless, doesn’t it? Well, you might be surprised.

Can you use expired olive oil?

So, you tested your olive oil and found that it’s no longer good for cooking or finishing your meals. What should you do with it? Before you throw it out, we’d like to offer a few suggestions:

 

  1. Furniture polish. Dab a little expired olive oil on a cloth and rub it gently over wood furniture to hide scratches and restore some of its natural luster. 
  2. Household lubricant. Creaky door? Squeaky hinges? Stubborn drawers? Olive oil can help you reduce all those annoying noises.  
  3. Paint remover. While you’re familiar with olive oil’s culinary qualities, you may not know it makes an excellent solvent as well. If you have paint on your hands after working on a home project, rub some olive oil on them with a cotton ball, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe them clean. 
  4. Leather conditioner. Do you have an old leather purse, satchel, or baseball glove that has gotten dull and brittle over time? Rubbing them with olive oil can bring back the soft, supple feel and that distinctive patina that makes aged leather so stunning. 

 

Even with those impressive uses, we still think the best thing about extra virgin olive oil is its ability to enhance the flavor and healthiness of your food. And like we’ve stated already, it’s best when it’s fresh. This brings us back to the question of how to store your EVOO in a way that keeps it as fresh as possible. 

 

Learn the best way to store olive oil

We started this article by stating that time, light, heat, and oxygen are the enemies of fresh extra virgin olive oil. Since the only way to counteract the effects of time is to consume the oil as soon after harvesting as possible (which sounds like a delicious defense, if you ask us), we’ll focus on proper storage to fend off the degrading effects of light, heat, and oxygen. The ideal storage location for olive oil would be somewhere that is dark, cool, and airtight. According to olive oil experts, 56 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature, but anywhere between 56 and 70 degrees is fine. Many times, a pantry or wine cooler is an excellent location to store olive oil. Protecting against oxygen is the most challenging aspect of storage. At the very least, you should be sure to close your olive oil container after each use. This doesn’t necessarily keep it airtight, but it does prevent additional oxygen from entering. While it can be tough to protect your EVOO from all three enemies — light, heat, and oxygen — it’s not impossible. 

Olive oil bottle vs. Olive oil pouch

If you’ve ever purchased olive oil for yourself or received it as a gift, there’s a pretty good chance it was in a bottle. It makes sense. Bottles are sturdy and easy to use. And despite the fact that they tend to leave their contents exposed to light and oxygen, they’ve quietly become the accepted method for storing extra virgin olive oil. However, even though they may be the most familiar, we don’t think bottles aren’t the best packing option for fresh EVOO. That’s why we have created the La Panza Olive Oil Pantry Pouch. Our innovative packaging keeps your olive oil as fresh as possible by providing safe, sustainable storage that protects your olive oil from the oxygen, light, and temperature that can degrade it. The pouch’s built-in spout lets you pour the olive oil without removing a lid and exposing the oil to oxygen. The pouch’s opaque exterior blocks light, and it also features a metallic liner that keeps the oil even cooler than standard packaging. And if that wasn’t enough, our Pantry Pouch produces 90% less waste than glass bottles, which means it’s good for the oil and good for the environment as well. 

Some of our customers enjoy the look of having a glass bottle on the table when entertaining, with a pour spout that’s easy to use. If you choose to put some olive oil in a glass bottle, only fill what you’ll need for a particular event or a week at most — any longer and your extra virgin olive oil will start to spoil.

So, can extra virgin olive oil go bad? Yes, it sure can. And it’s important to remember that, since it’s an organic substance, even the best oil in the world will go bad eventually. But with efficient harvesting and production, well-designed packaging, and proper storage, EVOO can retain its flavorful, healthy freshness for up to two years — more than enough time for you to enjoy all it has to offer!




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