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How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last? Can It Go Bad?

Vegetable oil is probably one of the most used cooking oils. It can be used for a range of cooking tasks. Additionally, it is widely available and more affordable compared to other oils.

But how long does vegetable oil last? Can it go bad and how to detect bad vegetable oil? Vegetable oil will last around a year if you store it somewhere dark and cool. Vegetable oil that has gone bad tastes and smells different. It also changes its color becoming darker.

In this article, you will learn why vegetable oil goes bad and how to store it properly to extend its shelf life.

Does Vegetable Oil Go Bad?

If you are someone that uses vegetable oil often, you may not have gotten to the point when you have to figure out whether your oil is good to use or it has already gone bad.

While the shelf life of vegetable oil is quite long, it does go bad.

Vegetable oil will go bad as a result of improper storage conditions. Otherwise, it will keep well for longer than the expiration date on the bottle tells you.

Vegetable oil will go bad quickly if you store it under direct sunlight. Many people leave a bottle of oil out on the kitchen counter or windowsills. This is convenient as vegetable oil is something we reach for very often. However, direct sunlight and natural light cause this oil to go rancid.

Heat, in general, is the worst enemy for cooking oils. Thus, you should keep the bottle with vegetable oil away from not only sunlight but also the oven or the stovetop, as well as the side of the fridge as it can get very warm sometimes.

Vegetable oil also goes bad as a result of temperature changes.

How to Store Vegetable Oil?

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Storing vegetable oil is easy if you know the basic rules of storing oil.

Firstly, you should always keep vegetable oil in a cool and dark place. The pantry will work well for this reason.

Secondly, you should store the oil in a tightly sealed container. If you buy vegetable oil in big plastic containers that are not as convenient for everyday use, we recommend transferring a certain amount into a glass bottle and keeping it somewhere that you can reach easily.

Keep the oil in a kitchen cabinet closer to your cooking area and you can grab it quickly any time you need it. Additionally, you won’t have to open and close the plastic container too often. This will decrease the risk of exposing the oil to air.

Remember that as soon as the air gets to the oil, the latter starts to oxidize. This makes the deterioration process way faster.

Lastly, if you want your vegetable oil to not suffer any flavor changes while it sits in the pantry, transfer it into a large glass container with a tight-sealing lid. It is not a secret that plastic, depending on its quality, can leach into the oil. This certainly affects the taste of oil over time.

It should be noted, however, that the quality of any product deteriorates as it sits in the pantry or fridge. Thus, even if the vegetable oil has not gone bad you may still notice slight flavor changes. It is okay so long as the oil is not rancid.  

Can You Refrigerate Vegetable Oil?

Storing vegetable oil in the fridge is not necessary. It does well at room temperature if stored correctly. There are natural antioxidants in vegetable oil that protect it from going bad quickly.

With this being said, if you live somewhere where it is hot even in the pantry, you might need to keep your opened bottles of vegetable oil in the fridge.

But before you refrigerate vegetable oil, know that some oils get cloudy as a result of being stored in the fridge. This is not a problem. Leave the oil at room temperature for some time and it will quickly come back to life.

We recommend refrigerating vegetable oil only if you are using it from time to time. If you use this oil very often, exposing it to drastic temperature changes frequently will affect the quality.

How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last?

The shelf life of vegetable oil depends on many factors, including the specific type of oil you are using, the brand, and most importantly, storage conditions.

The shelf life of vegetable oil generally ranges from a few months to around a year.

An unopened bottle of vegetable oil will keep well for up to 24 months.

Once you open it, the shelf life will be largely affected by the storage conditions. If you store the oil properly, it will keep well for at least 6 months to up to a year.

Can You Reuse Vegetable Oil?

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It is fine to reuse vegetable oil that you have used for frying. While vegetable oil can be very affordable and it is certainly better to use fresh oil whenever possible, reusing oil is also a great option.

If you want to reuse your vegetable oil, here is what you should and shouldn’t do.

  • Don’t combine different types of vegetable oils to reuse them later.
  • Once you have finished frying, let the oil cool down and only then transfer it into a container you will be keeping it in until the next fry.
  • Don’t store the oil in iron or copper pots. This will cause it to go rancid very quickly.
  • Turn the heat off as soon as you are done frying. Exposing the oil to heat unnecessarily increases the chances of it getting rancid.
  • Strain the oil through cheesecloth. Doing this will help you remove pieces of fried food from the oil with ease.
  • Store the oil in a cool and dark place.

Signs that Vegetable Oil Has Gone Bad

Vegetable oil doesn’t go bad overnight. It does undergo flavor changes the longer you keep it. However, this doesn’t mean that your vegetable oil is bad.

What does mean that it has gone bad is the off-putting smell and taste. The oil that has gone bad also looks different from fresh ones. If your vegetable oil looks much darker than it was when you first bought it, then it has probably gone bad.

Examine the taste and smell of the oil. If your vegetable oil tastes and smells very unpleasant, discard it.

In most cases, oils go rancid and become unsuitable for consumption. Rancid oil tastes stale and you certainly can’t fail to notice it. Rancid oil also has a very unpleasant, rank smell.

Related Questions

What Happens If You Use Expired Vegetable Oil?

Have you ever used vegetable oil to only look at the bottle and see that it is past its expiration date? Well, that doesn’t mean much.

You can use vegetable oil even after its ‘Best by’ date and be completely fine with it. The manufacturer prints this date as an indication of how long the oil will maintain its best qualities. However, if you have stored your vegetable oil in proper conditions, it is most likely to still be good for consumption.

You should avoid using oil that smells or tastes off. Even then, rancid oil doesn’t come with serious health risks. But hardly can you finish a dish prepared with rancid oil as it will taste quite bad.

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