How long is liquid coconut oil good for?

Coconut oil has become a popular cooking and beauty oil in recent years. With its high smoke point and health benefits, many people have started using coconut oil for frying, baking, and more. But there is often confusion around how long coconut oil lasts once opened. Here’s a guide to how long liquid coconut oil is good for, how to store it, signs it has gone bad, and how to use up coconut oil before it expires.

How Long Does Unopened Coconut Oil Last?

An unopened container of virgin or refined coconut oil will generally stay fresh for up to 2 years from the date of manufacture, if stored properly. Here are some tips for maximizing the shelf life of unopened coconut oil:

  • Store in a cool, dark place – Light and heat can degrade coconut oil more quickly. Store coconut oil away from direct light in a cupboard or pantry.
  • Check the best-by date – This will give you an idea of how long the coconut oil should retain optimum freshness and quality.
  • Buy smaller containers – Once opened, coconut oil may start to go rancid faster. Buying smaller containers means you can use up the oil quicker after opening.
  • Buy from reputable brands – Higher quality, pure coconut oil from reputable suppliers tends to have a longer shelf life unopened.

As long as the jar is unopened and stored properly, the coconut oil should stay fresh and usable for 1-2 years past its production date in most cases.

How Long Does Opened Coconut Oil Last?

Once you open a container of coconut oil, its shelf life decreases significantly. Exposure to oxygen, light, and bacteria reduces the freshness and quality over time. Here’s how long coconut oil typically lasts once opened:

  • Refined coconut oil: 6-12 months
  • Virgin coconut oil: 12-18 months
  • Fractionated coconut oil: Up to 2 years

Virgin and refined coconut oil have a shorter shelf life opened compared to fractionated coconut oil. This is because fractionated coconut oil has had certain fats removed, giving it greater stability.

Here are some tips for extending the shelf life of opened coconut oil:

  • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place – Keep coconut oil in a cupboard or pantry away from light and heat to prevent it going rancid quickly.
  • Keep the lid tightly sealed – Prevent air exposure by always securely closing the lid.
  • Use a clean, dry spoon to scoop out coconut oil – Don’t introduce water or other contaminants into the jar.
  • Don’t put your fingers in the coconut oil – This can introduce bacteria to the jar.

If stored properly in an airtight container away from heat and light, opened coconut oil can typically last for 12-24 months.

How to Tell if Opened Coconut Oil Has Gone Bad

Coconut oil can eventually spoil or go rancid, especially if not stored properly. Here are some signs your opened coconut oil has expired and should be thrown out:

  • Change in color – Fresh coconut oil is clear or white. If it starts to turn yellow or orange, it has likely gone rancid.
  • Change in smell – Coconut oil should smell fresh and sweet like coconuts. If it starts smelling cheesy, sour, or unpleasant, it has spoiled.
  • Change in texture – Good coconut oil remains smooth and creamy. If it becomes grainy or watery, toss it.
  • Mold – Any fuzzy growth or mold spots indicate coconut oil has gone bad.
  • Taste – Coconut oil should taste like fresh coconut. Rancid coconut oil will taste bitter or unpleasant.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to discard the coconut oil. Consuming rancid coconut oil can cause digestive upset in some people.

How to Use Up Coconut Oil Before It Goes Bad

To get the most out of a jar of coconut oil before it expires, here are some tips for using it up more quickly:

  • Use it more often for cooking – Fry eggs, sauté veggies, grease pans, and bake with it.
  • Add it to smoothies – Coconut oil makes smoothies creamy and adds healthy fats.
  • Include it in homemade granola or energy bars – Coconut oil can replace other oils or bind ingredients together.
  • Use it on skin and hair – Coconut oil makes a moisturizing face or body oil, hair mask, and makeup remover.
  • Make it into body scrubs or bath melts – Mix coconut oil with sugar or essential oils for homemade scrubs and melts.
  • Rub on cuticles to moisturize – Coconut oil softens and conditions dry cuticles.
  • Use for oil pulling – Swish coconut oil in your mouth to moisturize mouth and remove bacteria.
  • Give containers away – Share remaining coconut oil with friends or family if you won’t use it up in time.

Creative ways to use up extra coconut oil before it expires include cooking, mixing into drinks, DIY beauty products, and giving it away. Using smaller containers can help prevent waste.

Does Coconut Oil Need Refrigeration After Opening?

Refrigeration can help extend the shelf life of opened coconut oil. However, it’s not strictly necessary in most cases. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Refrigeration may help prolong freshness – The colder temperature slows oxidation and rancidity.
  • Solidifies below 76°F – Coconut oil becomes solid when chilled, which some people prefer for cooking.
  • May cause condensation – Temperature changes can lead to water droplets in the coconut oil.
  • Hardens texture – Refrigerated coconut oil is very firm and hard to scoop out.

In most cases, coconut oil does not need to be refrigerated after opening if it will be used quickly. Storing in a cool pantry is sufficient. Only move it to the refrigerator if you want to keep it for many months and want to slow degradation.

Can You Freeze Coconut Oil to Extend Shelf Life?

Freezing is an effective way to prolong the shelf life of opened coconut oil. Here’s how freezing affects coconut oil:

  • Extends lifespan – Freezing significantly slows oxidation and rancidity.
  • Maintains quality – Frozen coconut oil retains color, scent, and flavor better.
  • No need to thaw – Frozen coconut oil can be scooped out and used frozen.
  • Changes texture – Freezing makes coconut oil very firm and solid.

To freeze coconut oil:

  • Ensure container is full – Leave little air at the top as coconut oil expands when frozen.
  • Store in an airtight container – Prevent air exposure and moisture loss.
  • Freeze for up to 1 year – Keeps coconut oil fresh and usable for longer.
  • Scoop out desired amount – No need to thaw first, frozen oil will melt quickly during use or cooking.

Freezing opened coconut oil can effectively prolong its shelf life for up to 1 year while retaining quality.

Does Coconut Oil Go Bad If Left Out of the Fridge?

Coconut oil can eventually spoil if left out of the refrigerator for an extended period. However, coconut oil has a naturally long shelf life at room temperature. Here’s what to know:

  • Lasts for months – Coconut oil has antioxidant properties that make it resistant to spoilage.
  • Has a high smoke point – The high heat tolerance also contributes to shelf life.
  • Can become rancid – If left for a very long time, oxidation can still cause rancidity.
  • Fridge extends life – Refrigeration further slows spoilage, but isn’t required.

At room temperature, opened coconut oil generally stays usable and fresh for up to 1 year. While it’s not essential to refrigerate coconut oil after opening, the fridge can prolong shelf life further to 18-24 months if you don’t use it often.

Signs Coconut Oil Has Spoiled After Being Left Out

Look for these signs that coconut oil has gone rancid after being left out of the refrigerator:

  • Orange tint – The oil loses its clear white look.
  • Unpleasant odor – Starts to smell bad or “off.”
  • Change in texture – May look greasy or become watery.
  • Mold – Fuzzy spots of mold indicate spoilage.
  • Bitter taste – Rancid coconut oil will not taste pleasant.

If you see any signs of spoilage after leaving coconut oil out for an extended period, it’s best to discard it.

Effects of Using Rancid Coconut Oil

Consuming rancid coconut oil is not recommended. Here are some potential effects to be aware of:

  • Digestive issues – Rancid fats can irritate the stomach, causing nausea, cramps, or diarrhea.
  • Unpleasant taste – Food cooked with rancid coconut oil absorbs the bad taste.
  • Decreased nutritional value – Oxidation destroys nutrients like antioxidants and vitamins.
  • Possible free radical damage – Rancid fats may promote oxidative stress in cells.

While rancid coconut oil is not inherently dangerous, it’s best avoided. Stick to coconut oil that smells and tastes pleasant to avoid any adverse effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does coconut oil need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration is not strictly necessary for coconut oil. Thanks to its naturally long shelf life, coconut oil can be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark place for up to a year. Refrigeration can help prolong its freshness further to 18-24 months. But it’s fine kept in a pantry unless you live in a very hot climate.

Can you use coconut oil after the expiration date?

Coconut oil can often be safely used for several months to a year past the printed expiration or best-by date, provided it was stored properly and there are no signs of spoilage. Use your senses of smell, taste, and sight to check for rancidity before using very old coconut oil.

Does coconut oil need to be kept in the fridge?

No, coconut oil does not need refrigerator storage. While it can extend the shelf life, room temperature storage works well for everyday use. Keep unused coconut oil in a cupboard or pantry out of direct light. Only refrigerate it if planning to keep for over a year after opening.

How long does fractionated coconut oil last?

Unopened fractionated coconut oil lasts 2-5 years from the manufacturing date. Once opened, fractionated coconut oil lasts up to 2 years at room temperature, or longer if refrigerated. The removal of certain fats gives it a longer shelf life than virgin coconut oil.

Can old coconut oil make you sick?

Consuming very rancid or expired coconut oil could potentially cause digestive upset, nausea, or diarrhea in some instances. While it likely won’t make you seriously ill, rancid coconut oil has an unpleasant taste and it’s best to discard old coconut oil and use fresh.

The Shelf Life of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil can last a surprisingly long time compared to other cooking oils. To summarize key points on how long it lasts:

  • Unopened coconut oil lasts 2-5 years.
  • Opened coconut oil lasts up to 18 months at room temperature.
  • Refrigeration can extend shelf life to 2+ years after opening.
  • Signs it has gone bad include color changes, rancid smell, mold, and bitter taste.
  • Freeze for long term storage up to 1 year.
  • Avoid using rancid coconut oil, which can cause digestive upset.

By monitoring for signs of spoilage and storing coconut oil properly, you can safely keep it for everyday use or make a batch last longer. Keep an eye on the expiration date, smell, color, and taste to determine if your coconut oil is still fresh and non-rancid.

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