How to Store Cooking Oil for the Long-Term | Build a Stash

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Key Takeaways

  •  Cooking oil can be stored long-term under the correct conditions.
  •  Keep cooking oil in a cool and dark location, around 60 degrees F.
  •  Only buy cooking oil packaged in a glass bottle, as plastic can deteriorate with time.
  •  Always smell your cooking oil before using it to be sure it has not turned rancid.
  •  Do not open oil bottles unless you plan to use them immediately to prevent oxidation.

Are you frustrated when your cooking oil is rancid right in the middle of baking? Luckily, there are ways to avoid this problem.

Storing cooking oil for long periods is possible. First, keep the bottle sealed and don’t store oils that have been opened. Keep the oil in a location away from light, air, and heat, such as a pantry under 60 degrees F. Finally, only buy oils packaged in glass bottles as plastic can deteriorate.

Any serious home cook like myself needs a fully stocked pantry of supplies, including verities of cooking oil. Unfortunately, I have seen cooking oil turn rancid, and it is not a pretty sight. Below I will discuss how to make your cooking oil last as long as possible. I will also cover the best types of cooking oil to store long term, if cooking oil goes bad and how long you can expect oil to last.

Table of contents


Does Cooking Oil Go Bad?

Cooking oil is a food that does not necessarily "go bad." It will have an expiration date like all food products; however, it can be used beyond this date with proper storage. Ingesting expired cooking oil will not get you sick as expired dairy products do, but you should still use caution, as the oil can taint the flavor of your food.

Also, when cooking oil turns, it will begin to lose many of the vitamins and minerals. Due to this, there really is no benefit to using rancid oil, unless you have no choice.

How to Tell When Cooking Oil is Bad

Bacteria and mold will not grow on oil, so to test its freshness, you will need to give it a sniff. Oils will give off a strong odor due to the development of toxic compounds. This is due to the breakdown of polyunsaturated or unsaturated fats. These compounds will not make you sick but give the oil a sour, fermented, or rotten smell.

How to Keep Cooking Oil from Going Bad

If you need to have oil on hand but are not sure when you will use it, good news, there are several ways you can ensure your cooking oil will be good for the long term.

Keep it in the Dark

While it can be fun and aesthetically pleasing to line up your oils, flours, and spices on the kitchen counter in glass jars, this is the worst thing you can do to preserve their freshness.

All cooking oils should be kept in a dark location like your pantry or a cupboard. This is the main reason many cooking oils come packaged in dark bottles. Light is one of oil's natural enemies as it causes a loss of antioxidants, can change the oil's color, and causes the oil to turn rancid much faster.

Keep it Cool

Another factor to consider when storing oil is the temperature. Multiple studies have confirmed that olive oil stored at around 60 degrees showed no signs of rancidity after three years. Even when stored at a slightly higher temperature, about 70 degrees, the oil was still good for up to three years.

You can store your oils in the refrigerator or freezer if you prefer. Keep in mind that the oil will become cloudy due to the slowdown of the molecules in the oil's structure. When you need to use the oil, let it sit out and come up to room temperature, and the cloudiness will dissipate.

If there is no way for you to keep your oil cool, it should be used within six months. Certain oils, such as almond oil, are extremely sensitive to heat and should always be stored in the refrigerator.

Keep it Sealed

If you plan to store cooking oil long-term, ensure the bottle is still sealed. Oxygen is another enemy of cooking oil, as it will cause the oil to oxidize. Oxidation can cause harmful compounds to develop and alter the taste of your food.

The rate at which cooking oil oxidizes depends on a few factors, including the number of antioxidants in the oil, the types and amounts of fats, and how refined the oil is.

Extra virgin olive oil and peanut oil are two of the best oils for long-term storage due to their oxidative stability. But, of course, no matter what oil is your favorite, keeping it away from oxygen will benefit the lifespan immensely.

Keep it in a Glass Bottle

When shopping for cooking oil, choose a brand that comes in a glass bottle. The less expensive brands packaged in plastic bottles are not ideal for long-term storage due to the plastic deteriorating with time. This will allow oxygen and white to answer the bottle and oxidize the oil faster.

The best cooking oil for long-term storage comes in a heavily tinted glass bottle. Also, keep an eye out for oils that have been nitrogen flushed after packaging. This process pushes oxygen out of the bottle and replaces it with nitrogen gas hindering the oxidation process.

Keep it in Rotation

You don't need to work in the food industry to understand the importance of FIFO, first in, first out. Make sure you rotate your oil every time you add a new bottle to your pantry. This guarantees you will always use the oldest oil before it turns rancid.

Also, check the expiration dates on your bottles while you rotate. If you find one several years past the expiration date, it might be time to replace it with a fresh bottle.

What are the Best Cooking Oils for Long-Term Storage?

If you follow the above mentioned steps, your oil will last much longer. Of course, some oils will naturally last longer than others due to their high concentration of antioxidants. To help you get a better idea of which cooking oil you can keep on hand the longest, here is a quick breakdown of common oils and how long they last when stored properly.

Oil Shelf Life
Hydrogenated Oils 5 years
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 3 years
Coconut Oil 2 to 5 years (depending on refinement level)
Peanut Oil 2 to 4 years
Palm Oil 2 to 3 years
Canola Oil 1 to 2 years
Corn Oil 1 to 2 years
Safflower Oil 1 to 2 years
Soybean Oil 1 to 2 years

How Should I Store Cooking Oil Once It Has Been Opened?

After cracking open that bottle of olive oil, ensure you follow the same steps, I mentioned above to keep it good for as long as possible. If you can, store it in the fridge or freezer in an opaque glass bottle. You can also keep it in the pantry with your sealed bottles. Just make sure to label it correctly and use it before the fresh bottles.

If you have one available, put the bottle into a vacuum sealing machine. While this isn't quite as good as having a sealed bottle, it will help keep any more air from getting in the bottle, thus extending the shelf life.

Do I Need to Follow the Expiration Date on the Bottle?

Yes and no. If you have a sealed bottle stored properly, the expiration date is more of a guideline. However, it is important to use your best judgment. Make sure you smell the oil before using it in any recipes, and if it doesn't smell right, don't use it.

However, if you buy a bottle and open it when you get home, the expiration date is a good indicator of when you should buy a fresh bottle. Even with a new bottle, if you store it properly, it can last beyond the expiry date.

Why You Should Store Cooking Oil?

Many people might wonder, "why would I need to worry about storing cooking oil long term? I can just buy more when they need it." While this is true, it is always a good idea to have pantry staples on hand in the event of emergencies and supply shortages. In addition, many "preppers" will have cooking oils in their emergency kits for when the worst happens.

Also, buying in bulk is less expensive than running out every time you need a quart of cooking oil. If you store your oil properly, that 24-pack you purchased at Costco will last years and save you money.

Also, oils like olive oil are always great to have on hand for adding some extra flavor to your food. I personally always have olive oil on hand for cooking as it adds extra nutrients and healthy fats to your food.