olives safety feat

How long do olives last? Can they go bad?

Olives are edible fruits that are derived from the subtropical broad-leaved evergreen tree of the Oleaceae family. These have been cultivated by ancient farmers for thousands of years, and its fruits and oils are key ingredients in Mediterranean cuisines. Inside the olive fruit lies a hard and inedible stone that has to be removed. 


There are many varieties of olives around the world. In the market, the most common ones are green and black olives. You will need to choose either with the pit, the pitted ones (stones were removed), or the ones stuffed with pimiento or cheese.


The olive fruit is versatile for cooking, and it contains natural flavors of bitter, salty, sweet, and acidic. This feature makes it an excellent ingredient for enhancing the taste of many dishes such as pasta, salads, and pizza. And, you can put it in your martini too!


Olives are undoubtedly expensive, especially those that are high-quality. How do you store them when you buy some? After opening a can or bottle of olives, how do you store the leftovers? Do you know how long you can still keep the olives after opening it? Can you tell if the olives have already gone bad after holding it for a while? Are you aware of how long it can last? 

If you’re unsure of the answers, this post will help you. 

Also Read: How long does olive oil last? Can it go bad?

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How to Store Olives?

In terms of storage, there are different ways of storing olives in brine, olives in oil, and fresh olives.


Storing olives in brine

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When you just buy a new jar or can of olives, you can keep it in your pantry or kitchen cabinet where it is cool, dry, and away from sunlight exposure so that it won’t spoil. Make sure to also keep it away from heat sources.

Once opened, you will need to have it tightly covered and store in the fridge. As for an opened can of olives, you will need to transfer the contents, including the brine, inside an airtight container or sealable plastic wrap. If ever you are not sure how to properly store it, see the labels for storage instructions.


Always remember that whenever you have leftover olives, always store it with its brine and have it refrigerated. Ensure that the olives are wholly submerged in the brine, or else it might spoil.


Sometimes, you may find yourself in this realization: “Oh my, I discarded the olive brine!” Just cheer up because you can make your own brine solution! To make a brine solution, for every cup of water, mix it with ½ teaspoon of salt. With this, you can store your olives in it for up to two weeks. 

Storing olives in oil

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Taras Verkhovynets/Shutterstock.com


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In keeping olives preserved in oil, it is best to store them in the refrigerator. Once opened, remember to always seal the jar before putting it back in storage.

Fresh olives

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Vitalina Rybakova/Shutterstock.com


If you got some lots of fresh olives to store, you need to process these within a few days after harvest. Either black-ripe olives or green-ripe olives, you need to keep these in ventilated crates at temperatures between 41 degrees F to 51 degrees F. If you store these in colder temperatures for more than two weeks, it will cause chill injury to your olives and result in internal and external browning.


How long do they last?

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Always check the expiration date, “Best Before” or “Best When Used By” date or “Best-by” date on the label. Basically, most varieties of olives can last for one to two years if unopened.


Once the package of olive is opened, it is recommended to use the fruits within a week or up to ten days at most. Olives deprived of its brine or oil will keep its quality between 3 to 5 days after opening.


If you happen to have some properly stored expired canned olives sitting untouched in the pantry, it can probably still hold its quality for another few months. However, if you for a best-tasting dish, better use those that have not expired yet.


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So, never miss to read the label and store the olive fruits properly so that you can have a hold of its quality for a little longer. If you still keep it for almost a couple of weeks, it will start to lose its best quality. 


Can they go bad?

Yes, olives can go bad. The good thing about unopened bottles or jar of olives, whether you have green or black olives, whole, pitted or stuffed, the storage guidelines, and the spoilage indication applies almost similarly. Unfortunately, once you have a pack opened, it can sometimes be challenging to predict its shelf life. Well, that depends on the way you handle them.

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How to tell if they have gone bad?

For unopened jar or bottle of olives, look for these signs of spoilage:

Packaging condition: The lid if your olive jar or bottle should stay flat. If you notice the cover of the olive jar or bottle has popped or bulged, that indicates a sign of spoilage. Hence, it is best to discard it for safety reasons. 


Furthermore, if the container looks rusty, leaky, severely dented, or has a tiny hole, do not save it anymore. Just throw it in the bin.


See also
How Long Does Grape Seed Oil Last? Can It Go Bad?

Now, you used some of the olives for your salad. The next day, you made some pizza and added olives on it. Now that you still have more left, how long can it stay after putting it in and out of the fridge from time to time? 


Here are the signs you need to be aware of before you discard your olives for good:

1. Appearance: Check for signs of mold growth. If you see floating particles on the surface of the brine, just scoop it out and eat the olives like normal. However, if it looks disgusting to you, it is still acceptable to throw it away. Don’t feel bad because no one will blame you for doing it. That’s understandable.

One thing to take note: the longer the olives stay in its brine, the color becomes paler. Before you worry about the discoloration, do a quality check before using it. Then, you’ll know your next move.

2. Taste and smell: Ideally, the olive fruit is basically bitter, fruity, and pungent. If you end up tasting or smelling something musty, fusty, sour, metallic, or rancid, then your olives are spoiled. Do not use it anymore.

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