Most of us never think twice about vegetable oil. We just seem to buy it and use it accordingly, never really giving a second thought to whether it may expire or not. It just seems to be one of those reliable household items that you can trust to never do you wrong. As a result, we buy it in bulk because we tend to think about it so little that we would neglect to buy it while out shopping otherwise. But, what if we have been doing it wrong this whole time?
There is a broad variety of oils that fall under the spectrum of vegetable oils – there’s sunflower oils, peanut oils, etc. But, for the sake of simplicity, we’re going to group them all as vegetable oils as they have pretty much the same characteristics when it comes to storage. The good news is that we can tell you straight away that an unopened bottle of vegetable oil should keep for a period of years if stored correctly. However, there are plenty of pitfalls to be avoided if you are going to pull this off. Because of this, we have decided to put together a comprehensive guide on how to store it, how long it will last, and how to tell when it has gone off. So, if this is the knowledge you are looking for, you’ll find what you need below!
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The Best Way to Store Vegetable Oil
Before we get stuck into this, we should mention that any vegetable oil will begin to change its flavor if it has been sitting on a shelf too long. At this point, many of you won’t enjoy the flavor as much. Because of this, many of the dates we will give you will accommodate for the taste changing as opposed to the vegetable oil becoming unsafe to use.
There is no major trick to storing unopened bottles of vegetable oil. There are just a few simple things to avoid. Vegetable oil will begin to deteriorate much quicker if the bottle is exposed to any source of heat, sunlight included. They also tend to deal better with being stored in the dark. Thankfully, such conditions are readily available in the home. So, for unopened bottles, simply keep them tucked away in the back of a cabinet or in the pantry.
The same conditions apply to an opened bottle of vegetable oil, but there are also several more factors to watch out for. Once a bottle of vegetable oil has been opened, it is instantly exposed to a wave of oxygen causing it to begin fading in quality from then on. So, the best thing to do is to make sure that the bottle is always tightly sealed in between uses. Another reason to do this is to prevent foreign bodies from making their way into the oil, ruining it. For some reason, houseflies seem particularly attracted to open bottles of vegetable oil, so it is best to be safe. If you use a lot of oil, it is perfectly fine to keep the bottle on the countertop. However, if you predict that it may take months to get through a bottle, it is best to return it to a dark cabinet or the pantry.
How Long Does Vegetable Oil Last?
Being honest, we were pretty surprised when we found out that vegetable oil does expire. We would have assumed that due to its high fat content that it would keep pretty much indefinitely. Alas, we were wrong! However, though there is a best-by date printed on the label of all commercially bought vegetable oils, you can extend the lifespan of your oil by storing it right. As a general rule, the higher the quality of the oil, the longer it will last in your pantry. A reasonable guideline to go for is that for the cheapest of oils, you can expect it to last for up to 3 months beyond its sell-by date if unopened. For the most expensive varieties, this estimate goes right up to 6 months beyond the sell-by date.
In the case of opened bottles, this range goes down quite dramatically. You will note though that you still have plenty of time to play with. Should the bottle be relatively recently bought and well within its sell-by date, you can expect that it will last anywhere from 6 to 12 months from the moment it was opened. This range is admittedly quite broad. This is to accommodate for the differences between low and high-quality oils. In order to really be able to get an adequate insight into how long it will last, we would also advise reading up on the signs that your vegetable oil will give you when it is gone off.
Signs That Your Vegetable Oil May Have Gone Off
Now that we have acknowledged that vegetable oil does indeed go bad, it is time to learn the signs of spoilage. After all, if you are not aware of the signs, it would be really easy to just not think about it and keep using it. Mostly, it is relatively unheard of that a bottle would go ‘fully’ bad but the signs of this are relatively easy to spot. Trust your senses. Have a smell of the oil. If it smells strongly of anything at all, it has definitely gone beyond the point of usefulness. In some cases, the color of the liquid will become much, much darker. In this case, the whole bottle should all be discarded. After that, there is a taste test. It shouldn’t come to this last test, but if it does, what you are looking for is staleness. Staleness will let you know that the fats in the oil have begun to turn rancid.
Can Vegetable Oil be Refrigerated?
Given that light is an enemy of vegetable oil, it should never be refrigerated for long periods of time. However, over a short period of time, it won’t have any negative effects and could well be a useful storage technique for those in warmer climates. One thing that you will notice is that refrigerated oil will thicken and become a little harder to pour. But, the regular consistency of vegetable oil will return after it has been returned to room temperature for a while. If you are going to store a bottle in the fridge, it is best to keep it there rather than frequently letting it warm up again. This is because frequent temperature changes can cause the quality of your oil to diminish much quicker. There are absolutely no benefits to storing vegetable oil in the freezer.
Is vegetable oil flammable?
Under certain conditions, vegetable oil can be flammable as all oils are flammable at some point. Generally, this only happens when it has been forgotten on the stove point. If this is allowed to go on, it will begin to become a fire risk if the temperature surpasses 450 degrees.