If you’re anything like us, you probably have a few bottles of olive oil in your fridge or pantry.
Maybe you even keep a jar of peanut butter on hand.
But did you know that cooking oil can also go bad?
Cooking oil doesn’t go bad because it’s actually quite healthy.
In fact, most people don’t realize that cooking oil is good for them.
What are the signs that cooking oil has gone bad?
The first sign that cooking oil has gone bad is a foul odor.
This odor typically comes from oxidation, where unsaturated fats break down into smaller components.
When this happens, they start to emit unpleasant odors.
The rancid smell is caused by a chemical reaction between the fat molecules and oxygen present in the air.
As the reaction continues, more and more of the fatty acids will break down until there’s nothing left but an oily sludge.
This is why cooking oil should be stored in a cool, dark place away from light and heat.
If you store it in the refrigerator, make sure it’s deep enough so that the temperature stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).
Another sign that your oil has gone bad is if it smells strongly of fish.
Fish oils contain high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which are prone to breaking down due to the presence of oxygen.
If you buy any product with a fishy smell, assume that it contains rancid oil.
A third sign that your oil has gone bad is if it starts to turn brown.
This is caused by another type of oxidation, called autoxidation, where the oil breaks down into smaller components.
Autoxidation occurs naturally as the oil sits around, but it can also occur when the oil is exposed to light and heat.
Once again, storing it in a cool, dark place helps prevent this kind of oxidation.
You can tell whether your oil is rancid by simply tasting it.
If it tastes bad, then it’s already broken down.
However, if it still tastes good, then it hasn’t gone bad yet.
You’ll need to wait for it to get worse before you notice the difference.
How long does cooking oil last before it goes bad?
It depends on what type of cooking oil you use.
Some oils are more prone to rancidity than others.
The best way to determine how long an oil will last is to look at its “use by” date.
This is the shelf life of the product, not necessarily the time until it goes bad.
For example, vegetable oil typically lasts about a year after opening.
If you buy it in large quantities, it may be less expensive to replace it every year.
On average, cooking oil lasts three years if stored properly.
That means you should always check the expiration date before using it.
Once it gets close to the end of its shelf life, you’ll want to discard it immediately.
Rancid cooking oil smells strongly of chemicals, and this is one reason why you might notice it going bad sooner than other types of food products.
Because it’s made up mostly of fat, it’s very easy for bacteria to grow in it.
Bacteria thrive in environments with high temperatures, so rancid cooking oil is likely to get hot during cooking.
The longer it sits around, the more likely it is to become rancid.
You may find that some foods spoil faster than others.
For example, meat has a shorter shelf life than vegetables because it contains protein, which helps prevent bacterial growth.
Vegetables are also much harder to store, especially if they come from a cooler.
In general, fats are more susceptible to rancidity than carbohydrates or proteins.
Fats contain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are easily damaged by oxygen.
When PUFAs get damaged, they produce free radicals, which cause cell damage and disease.
This is why we recommend replacing our cooking oil regularly.
However, there are ways to slow down the process.
Keep reading to learn how.
Is it safe to use bad cooking oil?
No, cooking oil does not go bad.
It is, however, susceptible to rancidity, which is when the oil oxidizes and produces a sour smell.
Rancidity isn’t harmful, but it does affect the flavor of the oil.
If you’ve ever had a bottle of olive oil that has gone bad, you may be wondering if you should throw it out or just use it as soon as possible.
The truth is that there’s no need to toss out perfectly edible oil.
Here’s what you need to know about how long bad cooking oil will stay fresh.
1. The shelf life of cooking oil
Before we get into the specifics, let’s take a look at how long you can expect to keep any type of cooking oil.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to store all types of cooking oil in the refrigerator, where temperatures stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.5 degrees Celsius).
If you live somewhere with extremely cold winters, or if you’re planning to cook outside over an open flame, you might want to consider keeping some oils in a cool place instead.
When storing cooking oil, it’s important to keep it away from light and heat.
You should never leave oil out at room temperature, and you shouldn’t use it after its expiration date has passed.
Some oils will last longer than others, depending on their quality and whether they contain synthetic ingredients or organic ones.
2. The shelf life of vegetable oil
Vegetable oil is one of the more perishable types of cooking oil.
This is because it contains many additives, such as emulsifiers, preservatives, and antioxidants.
These chemicals help prevent oxidation, but they also make the oil less stable.
As a result, vegetable oil usually lasts the shortest amount of time when stored at room temperature.
You can expect to use vegetable oil within six months of purchase — or two years if you buy extra-virgin varieties.
However, if you plan to use it frequently, you may want to invest in a larger quantity so you won’t have to replace it as often.
3. The shelf life of animal fats
Animal fats are another type of cooking oil that tends to spoil quickly.
For example, lard, shortening, and tallow can become rancid much faster than other types of cooking oil.
They also tend to have a stronger odor, making them less desirable for certain uses.
Lard, shortening, and tallow can typically remain edible for up to three months once they reach their expiration date.
However, this can vary based on the type of fat you use.
For example, beef tallow can last up to nine months while pork lard can only last four months.
4. The shelf life of canola oil
Canola oil is a highly processed type of cooking oil that retains its nutritional value.
Although canola oil is considered a healthier alternative to other types of cooking oil, it still has a shelf life of around six months.
That means you can expect to use it for approximately half a year after purchasing it.
5. The shelf life of peanut oil
Peanut oil is another type of cooking oil that tends to go bad faster than other types.
It’s made from roasted peanuts and is commonly used for frying and sautéing foods.
Because peanut oil isn’t very acidic, it’s more likely to develop off flavors and odors when exposed to air or light.
In general, peanut oil will last a little bit longer than other types of cooking oil.
You can expect to use it for up to 18 months after purchase, although some experts recommend replacing it sooner than that.
What are the consequences of using bad cooking oil?
The first thing to understand about cooking oil is that it’s not dangerous.
The only real danger with cooking oil is that it will spoil.
When oil goes bad, it becomes rancid.
Here’s what that means.
Rancid oil smells like rotten eggs.
It tastes awful.
It can make your food taste terrible.
It can damage your body.
So how do you know if your cooking oil has gone bad?
Let’s look at some signs.
How can you tell if cooking oil has gone bad?
There are two main types of cooking oils: vegetable oil and animal fat.
You’ll find both in your kitchen.
Vegetable oil is made from pressed plant seeds such as soybean, corn, sunflower, cottonseed, and safflower.
Animal fats come from animals such as beef tallow, lard, and pork fat.
Both types of oil contain saturated fatty acids, which are important for proper cell function and energy production.
But what happens when these oils get old?
Do they still work properly?
Or do they become rancid and start producing free radicals, which cause health problems?
Rancidity occurs when oils oxidize (which is how they lose their color).
Oxidation is a natural process that occurs whenever there are oxygen molecules in an oil-based food product.
The free radicals produced during this reaction attack the polyunsaturated fats of the oil, causing them to break down into smaller and more toxic compounds.
These compounds include trans-fats, which increase your risk of heart disease, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are used in coolants and sealants but are banned in many countries due to their toxicity.
You can tell whether an oil is rancid by smelling it. If it smells strongly of rotten eggs, it’s likely rancid.
However, you should avoid buying cooking oil that smells like this.
Instead, look for it to have a strong nutty aroma.
This means it hasn’t gone rancid yet.
Once it starts to smell rancid, you need to throw it away immediately.
Can bad cooking oil be fixed?
Yes, bad cooking oil can be fixed!
You just need to know how to recognize rancid oil and what to do about it.
1. Recognizing rancid oil
Rancid oil smells strongly of mold, which is why it’s often referred to as “bad” oil.
However, rancid oil isn’t necessarily dangerous — in fact, it’s perfectly safe to use.
The problem comes when this oil goes rancid too quickly (it’s best to store your oils at room temperature).
When this happens, the oil starts producing free radicals, which cause oxidation.
“Free radicals are molecules that contain an unpaired electron,” says Dr. Steven Novella, neurologist and science blogger.
“When they come into contact with other molecules, they start attacking those molecules, causing damage.”
The result is that the oil stops being edible.
At this point, you’ll notice that the oil becomes darker and takes on a brownish color.
It also begins to look oily and produce a strong, unpleasant odor.
This is when you know that the oil has gone rancid.
2. What to do with bad cooking oil
You may think that throwing out old food is a waste of money, but there are ways to salvage some of your old oil so that you can still get some use out of it.
For example, you can use old oil in salad dressings, sauces, or marinades.
Just make sure that the oil is cool before adding it to any foods.
You can also use it to cook with again.
If you’ve been using the same bottle of oil for several years, it’s likely that it will be usable after a while.
Just make sure that the oil is completely cooled before putting it back in the pan.
Finally, you can save the oil in the refrigerator and reuse it later.
Just make sure to label the container clearly so that you won’t accidentally use it up faster than expected.
There are also plenty of online recipes that call for rancid oil.
For instance, you can use it to make homemade mayonnaise, or you can add it to your next batch of mashed potatoes.
Just remember to follow the instructions carefully.
Of course, none of these methods will work very well if the oil has gone rancid.
If you see signs of rancidity, you should throw it away immediately.
And speaking of oil, we’d love to hear from you about the health benefits of different types of oil.
Do you prefer olive oil over other types of oil?
How much do you eat?
Share your thoughts below!
What should you do with bad cooking oil?
The first thing to remember about cooking oil is that it has a shelf life.
This means that if you open a bottle of cooking oil, it will eventually spoil.
The longer you leave it around, the more likely it is to become rancid.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s bad for you.
In fact, cooking oil is considered one of the healthiest oils to use.
However, the longer you store it, the more likely it is to spoil.
If you’ve been keeping it around for a while, you probably won’t notice any changes in its quality.
You may even think that it’s still good to eat.
But there are signs that it could be time to toss it out.
1. Look at the color
When you buy cooking oil, you’ll see it in several different colors.
Some brands will label their products as “light,” “medium,” or “heavy.”
Light cooking oil is usually clear, whereas heavy cooking oil is yellowish-brown in color.
When you look at your oil, you should see a mixture of these two colors.
There shouldn’t be just one color.
This isn’t necessarily an indicator that your oil is spoiled.
However, if you only see one type of color, it might be best to throw it out.
This is especially true if the color is dark instead of light.
2. Check the smell
A rancid smell is another sign that your cooking oil is no longer safe to consume.
If it smells strongly of rotten eggs, then you definitely need to discard it.
However, if it smells like mildew or mold, you may want to try using it again before tossing it out.
3. Make sure it’s sealed properly
You should never use cooking oil if it’s opened.
This includes leaving the cap off the bottle.
Even though it’s unlikely that something will happen to cause the oil to leak, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to seal the bottle completely airtight, either.
Just make sure that the top is tightly closed and the container is well-sealed.
You should also check the packaging to make sure that you haven’t damaged the bottle.
If you find any cracks or holes, then you should discard the product immediately.
4. Avoid heat exposure
Whenever possible, you should try to avoid heating up your cooking oil.
Heat can accelerate the rate at which the oil becomes rancid.
For example, if you heat up your oil over a burner, then you run the risk of burning it.
This can lead to a chemical reaction that causes the oil to deteriorate faster.
It’s also important to avoid exposing your cooking oil to extreme temperatures.
As mentioned above, this is especially true if you’re storing it in a hot place like your oven or microwave.
It’s also a good idea to avoid letting your cooking oil sit in direct sunlight.
5. Don’t reuse cooking oil
Even though you may think that it’s okay to reuse your cooking oil, you should really consider throwing it out.
After all, you don’t want to contaminate other foods with old oil.
And since you’re already taking the extra step of purchasing new cooking oil, you might as well get rid of the old stuff.
There are some exceptions to this rule.
First of all, you can reuse cooking oil if you use it within a very short period of time.
Second, you can use the oil after you’ve cooked with it.
Third, you can use it if you cook with it regularly.
Fourth, you can use it if you don’t plan to cook with it again for a long time.
Finally, you can use it if you’re cooking a large amount of food at once.
How can you prevent cooking oil from going bad?
The main thing that makes oils go bad is exposure to oxygen.
The more time an oil has been exposed to air, the more likely it is to deteriorate.
When you buy cooking oil, it’s packaged in a sealed container.
This seals out any oxygen, so the oil will stay fresh as long as it remains unopened.
However, once you open the bottle, the seal is broken.
As soon as this happens, the oil begins to degrade.
And since it’s been exposed to air, it starts to go bad much faster than if it were stored in its original packaging.
To avoid this, always keep your oils in their original containers.
If you want to use up all of your oil before opening a new one, you can re-seal the old one by putting a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the bottle.
Then you’ll be able to use the same oil again and again without worrying about it going bad.
Another way to prevent your cooking oil from going bad is to store it properly.
Here are some tips to help you keep your oils fresh:
Keep the oil stored upright away from heat sources such as radiators or refrigerators.
Store the oil in a cool place (not the refrigerator) and keep the lid tightly closed.
Don’t store the oil near other foods that produce odors or aromas.
After using the oil, immediately pour it into a clean container and discard the used container.
What are the best ways to store cooking oil?
The two main types of cooking oils are solid at room temperature and liquid at room temperature.
1. Solid at room temperature
Solid at room temperature will form a layer between the air and the oil as soon as it reaches room temperature.
This prevents oxygen from getting into the oil, which means that the oil won’t oxidize (go bad).
2. Liquid at room temperature
Liquid at room temperature will be clear and transparent.
This type of oil is perfect for cooking because you can see how much oil you need before you add it to the pan.
You can also use this type of oil for salad dressings.
As long as you keep your oils stored properly, they should last for years.
Here are the best ways to store your oil so that it lasts longer:
Store your oil in a cool place — if you live in a cold climate, put the oil in the refrigerator.
Keep your oil away from heat sources — if you live in an area where temperatures fluctuate, put the oil in the freezer.
Don’t let your oil come in contact with light — if you have a lot of exposed oil sitting out on the counter, cover it up with plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
Use dark-colored glass containers — light-colored glass allows more light to get into the oil, which causes it to go rancid faster.
Never reuse old oil — once you’ve used oil, throw it out!
What are some tips for cooking with oil?
The first thing to remember about cooking with oil is that it can be stored for long periods of time if kept cool and out of direct sunlight.
If you do want to use up oil before it goes bad, you can simply pour it into an airtight container and refrigerate it.
When it comes time to re-use the oil, just bring it back to room temperature and reheat it in a pan or sauté pan over medium heat until hot again.
But what if you want to save money by using less oil?
There are several things you can do to maximize your savings.
Use oils that are high in smoke point (the temperature at which fat begins to break down).
The higher the smoke point, the longer the oil will last after you’ve used it.
Use oils that have a low smoke point.
This means that they won’t last as long after you’ve cooked with them.
However, they make more sense if you cook often and need to use a lot of oil.
They’ll still last much longer than cheap vegetable oil.
Replace old, unopened oil containers with new ones.
Old oil can become contaminated with bacteria and mold, which are both unpleasant smells.
Newer oil containers are designed specifically to prevent this from happening.
Refrigerate unused oil immediately after opening it.
You may also want to consider buying a food mill or blender so you don’t have to worry about scraping all the oil off your pans.
A food mill or blender can help reduce the amount of oil needed to prepare a meal, and it makes cleanup easier too.