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Food: Does Olive Oil Go Bad?

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As a professional chef, I tend to receive foodie-centric gifts for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. Something I'm definitely not complaining about! But it does mean I end up with a towering collection of spice blends and tiny jars of specialty vinegars and oils. At one point, I had four bottles of premium olive oil from all over the world, all of them opened so I could report back to the gift-giver.

Although we think of olive oil as an item with an unlimited expiration date, olive oil does go bad. The rancid oil won't make you sick, but it can ruin your recipe by giving the dish a strange, off flavor. (Ugh, rancid olive oil cake? No, thank you!)

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Can olive oil go bad?

Yes, it can. It sounds weird to think of olives as a fruit, but that's what they are. And olive oil is made by pressing fresh olives to extract their oil, kind of like making fruit juice. That means—like fruit—olive oil can go bad.

How do you know if your olive oil is bad? Catherine Ward, manager of the Taste of Home prep kitchen, says, "It's a good idea to give opened oil the sniff test before using. If it's been bad for a while, you'll notice a very unpleasant smell right out of the bottle—like crayons or putty or old peanuts. Time to throw it out!"

But, she adds, it can still be rancid without the strong smell. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a cup and then smell. If you're still unsure, give it a taste. If the olive oil has a flavor of fermented fruit or a greasy, unpleasant mouthfeel, then toss it out.

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Keep in mind that if you see white stuff floating in olive oil, it may not be bad—just cold!

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How long does olive oil last?

Most olive oil lasts 18 to 24 months from the date it was bottled and sealed, although extra-virgin olive oil has a shorter shelf life around 12 months. Keep in mind that some of that time is taken up in transit and storage, so be sure to check the best-buy dates at the grocery store before you pick up a large container of olive oil.

Once you open the bottle, olive oil will expire more quickly if it's not stored properly. It's a good rule of thumb to use opened olive oil within 60 days, or within a year at the most. If you end up with more olive oil than you know what to do with, it might be time to get creative and use the oil for its beauty benefits.

How to Store Olive Oil

Storing olive oil in a glass container near to the stove is certainly convenient, but it's not setting you up for success. Sunlight, heat and oxygen are olive oil's enemies. They break down the oil and cause it to go rancid more quickly. The best way to store olive oil is in a bottle with a lid in a dark cupboard or pantry. Look for olive oils sold in green glass or metal containers with a tightly-fitted cap. If you want to transfer the oil to a pouring vessel, use an opaque container.

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Live in a hot or humid environment? You can store olive oil in the fridge to keep it out of the elements. Of course, real olive oil will solidify at refrigerator temperatures, which can make it difficult to use on the fly. It may be best to buy it in small quantities instead of opting for a bulk container.

The post Does Olive Oil Go Bad? appeared first on Taste of Home.

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