Olive oil, like many other foods and ingredients, comes with a best by or expiration date stamped on the bottle. This date indicates the timeframe in which the olive oil is estimated to be at peak quality. However, olive oil tends to have a relatively long shelf life compared to other oils.
Olive oil that has passed its best by date may still be perfectly safe to consume, though the flavor and quality may start to degrade. Here are some quick answers about using olive oil after its expiration date:
Does olive oil go bad?
Yes, olive oil can eventually go bad, but it tends to last longer than other vegetable oils. Properly stored olive oil can maintain quality and freshness for 12-24 months after opening.
How can you tell if olive oil has gone bad?
Signs that olive oil has gone bad include:
- Rancid smell
- Off flavors like mold, dirt, or cardboard
- Cloudy appearance
Is rancid olive oil dangerous?
Consuming rancid olive oil is not dangerous or harmful. Rancidity simply means the oil has oxidized and degraded in quality and taste. However, rancid olive oil should be discarded since it will not have the flavor or nutritional benefits of fresh olive oil.
What happens if you consume expired olive oil?
Consuming expired olive oil that has started to go rancid may cause some stomach upset including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. However, serious illness is unlikely.
How long does unopened olive oil last after the expiration date?
Unopened olive oil will generally last 6-12 months past its printed expiration date if stored properly in a cool, dark place. The expiration date is simply an estimate for peak freshness.
Can you use expired olive oil for cooking?
It’s best to use olive oil before its expiration date for cooking. The flavors and aromas of olive oil tend to fade over time. Expired olive oil may also have more free fatty acids that can break down at high heat and produce off flavors.
Is it OK to consume expired olive oil?
It is generally safe to consume olive oil past its expiration date as long as it has been stored properly and there are no signs of spoilage like rancid smells or flavors. However, the taste, quality, and health benefits of the oil decline over time.
How can you extend the shelf life of olive oil?
To help extend the freshness of olive oil:
- Buy olive oil in tinted glass bottles or steel containers
- Keep olive oil in a cool, dark cabinet away from heat and light
- Make sure bottles are sealed tightly
- Limit oxygen exposure by not repeatedly opening the bottle
Olive oil can maintain quality and safety past its printed best by date, especially if it remains unopened. However, for peak flavor and nutritional value, it’s best to try to use olive oil within 12-24 months of purchase. Signs of spoilage like rancid odors indicate the olive oil has degraded and should be discarded. With proper storage, olive oil has a relatively long shelf life compared to other oils.
How to Tell if Your Olive Oil Has Gone Bad
Here are some signs that your olive oil has gone bad and needs to be discarded:
- Cloudy or murky oil instead of clear golden
- Oil has foam or bubbles on surface
- Mold visible in the bottle
- Rancid, rotten, or stale smell
- Aroma is musty or like cardboard
- Smells like crayons or putty
- Bitter, unpleasant, or metallic taste
- Soapy, greasy, or stale flavor
- Peppery, pungent taste
Any of these signs indicate your olive oil has oxidized and become rancid. Throw out the olive oil if you notice any of these characteristics.
How to Store Olive Oil to Extend Shelf Life
Here are some tips for storing olive oil properly to extend its shelf life and keep it fresh longer:
- Buy smaller bottles so there is less air exposure each time you open it
- Keep olive oil in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard away from heat and light
- Make sure olive oil bottles are well sealed after each use
- Store olive oil at a steady room temperature around 65°F to 70°F
- Avoid storage spots that experience big temperature swings
- Use olive oil within 1-2 months of opening for maximum freshness
- Check bottles periodically for signs of spoilage
With proper storage, unopened olive oil can last 12-24 months past its printed expiration date and retain quality and freshness.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Olive oil provides many health benefits when consumed fresh. Here are some of the key nutrients and benefits of olive oil:
Olive oil contains beneficial unsaturated fats including oleic acid, a omega-9 monounsaturated fat that protects against inflammation and oxidative damage.
Antioxidants like polyphenols protect cells from damage and may help reduce risk of chronic diseases.
Olive oil contains valuable vitamin E which boosts immunity and acts as an antioxidant in the body.
Olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce risk of diseases related to chronic inflammation.
Studies show olive oil improves cholesterol levels and heart health compared to sources of saturated fats.
However, these health benefits decline if the olive oil loses freshness and becomes rancid. Consuming olive oil close to the expiration date optimizes its nutritional value.
Cooking with Expired Olive Oil
You may wonder if you can still use olive oil that is past its expiration date for cooking. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Avoid cooking with olive oil more than 6 months past its printed date
- Old olive oil may lose some flavor which affects taste of dishes
- Free fatty acids in expired olive oil have lower smoke points
- May get more breakdown and oxidation during heating
- Stick to low and medium-heat cooking methods
- Best suited for dressings, dips, and cold applications
In a pinch, you can use expired olive oil for cooking, especially at lower temperatures. But for peak quality and performance, try to cook with olive oil before its best by date. Discard olive oil that smells or tastes rancid even if the date hasn’t passed.
The Bottom Line
Olive oil can safely be consumed after its expiration date in most cases. But for the best flavor, nutrition, and experience, aim to use up your bottles within 6-12 months after opening. Store olive oil properly in a cool, dark place in well-sealed bottles. And discard any olive oil that smells or tastes unpleasant even if unopened.