Wondering “how long vegetable oil lasts?” Here’s everything you need to know, plus tips for proper storage and longer shelf life.
There’s nothing worse than starting a recipe and realizing one of your ingredients has gone bad. But, sometimes it’s hard to tell when food has actually expired.
Food safety is incredibly important so even beginners should make sure they’re using fresh ingredients with no spoilage.
So, what about vegetable oil?
Some, mistakenly believe oils don’t go bad, but they do have a shelf life. And, expired oils can actually make you sick depending on how they break down.
But, don’t worry. There are a few easy ways to tell if your oil has gone bad so your salad dressing doesn’t become toxic!
Here’s how long vegetable oil lasts, how to tell if it’s gone bad, and tips for proper storage.
What is vegetable oil?
Before we get into how long it lasts, it’s important to know what vegetable oil actually is. And it’s probably more complicated than you think.
Vegetable oil is a “catch-all” term that refers to any oil extracted from edible plants.
It could be a blend of oils like canola oil, grapeseed, and corn oil. Or, it can refer to a single oil, usually soybean oil in the United States.
Other popular vegetable oils extracted from the seed are sesame oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and peanut oil.
And common oils extracted from other parts of the fruit are olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, and avocado oil.
Some of these oils have longer shelf lives than others due to their chemical makeup. And storage conditions can make a big difference, too.
How long does vegetable oil last?
How long vegetable oil lasts depends on a few factors: whether or not the oil has been opened, how the oil was stored, the initial quality of the oil, and the ingredients used in the oil.
Unopened vegetable oil can last up to 24 months if stored in a cool, dry place.
Oils high in polyunsaturated fats like canola oil will go bad quicker than oils higher in monounsaturated fats like olive oil and peanut oil.
Once opened, good-quality oil can last up to a year.
Oil of poorer quality has just a few months before it will go bad.
How to Know When It’s Gone Bad
Most oils don’t have an expiration date, but have a “best by date”, instead. This means you can still use the oil, but it may not be at peak quality. And it is likely safe to consume as long as it tastes and smells fresh.
Rancid oil will have a pungent, sour taste and a musty smell. If you notice these signs of spoilage, it’s time to throw your oil away. You should also discard your oil if there is mold around the seal.
On the other hand, cloudiness or crystallization isn’t a sign of spoilage. This is normal if you store oil at cold temperatures and can be reversed by loosening the cap and letting the oil sit at room temperature.
Tips for Proper Storage
If you want a longer shelf life for your oils, there are three things to look out for: heat, air, and light. Exposure to these elements can speed up the breakdown of your oil and cause it to go bad quicker.
- It’s okay to store oils at room temperature, but you should keep them out of direct sunlight. And if you can find a relatively cool place like a pantry, that’s even better.
- If you plan to store your oil for an extended period of time, a cold temperature closer to 60 degrees may increase the shelf life further.
- Oxidation (exposure to the air) makes oil deteriorate faster, so it’s important to close your container right after use and ensure you’re using a glass bottle or airtight container. Avoid plastic bottles as they’re less likely to fully seal.
- You’ll also want to ensure your oil is housed in a dry place as oil can go bad when mixed with water.
- Storing oils in a cool, dark place, also means keeping them away from the stove and other appliances that can generate heat.
Proper storage conditions will make your oils last much longer, but the easiest way to avoid rancid oil is to not overstock your pantry.
That way, you’ll always go through your oil well before it goes bad!
Vegetable oil is light and versatile and works great in everything from salad dressings to recipes for the deep fryer.
You can also use vegetable oil as an easy way to substitute for eggs in baking.
Whether you’re simply out of eggs or want a vegan alternative, you can use the following recipe as an easy stand-in: 2 tablespoons water + 2 teaspoons baking powder + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil = 1 large egg
Apart from dressings and baked recipes, you can also use these oils for pan-frying, sautéing, and skillet meals.
What To Do With Used Oil
If you have leftover oil in the bottom of your pan or a huge pot of oil leftover from frying, you might not know what to do with it.
It can be damaging to your plumbing and water treatment facilities to dump lots of oil down the drain, so it’s best to find an alternative disposal method.
For large quantities, let the oil cool completely, then pour it into a non-recyclable container with a lid and throw it in the garbage.
For smaller amounts, you can soak up the oil in a paper towel and throw the paper towel in the trash.
Some people reuse oils a few times before discarding them. It’s okay to do this as long as there is no bad taste or smell and that you get rid of the oil after 1 to 2 months.
If vegetable oil has gone bad, it will have a musty smell and a pungent, sour taste. You may also notice mold around the seal. If you detect any of these signs, it’s time to throw it away!
Expired oil can make you sick, depending on the type of rancidity. Hydrolytic rancidity caused by exposure to water isn’t harmful. Oxidative rancidity (caused by heat or light) can create oxidative stress in your cells and may raise the risk of degenerative diseases.
Oils generally have “best by dates” as opposed to expiration dates. Oils that are stored properly are typically safe to use after the “best by” date if the oil still tastes and smells fresh.
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