While olive oil is not usually one of the first things we think of when we think of shelf life, it’s useful to know exactly when it might go off, especially if you have a lot of it.
Olive oil has a whole range of uses, and it is very good for you, containing a lot of antioxidants. It’s also a healthier option for those wishing to fry their food, but also to cut down on their fat intake.
Any olive oil you have in your house should be kept away from heat, light, and air, all of which can cause a decline in quality, and will eventually lead to the oil going bad.
But you can safely freeze it. The actual freezing temperature depends on the individual batch and the variety of olives used (see also Can You Freeze Olives?), but it does tend to congeal when temperatures drop below 40°F.
Manufacturers will ‘winterize’ their olive oil if it will be used in a chilled product, which stops the oil congealing or going cloudy at lower temperatures.
If you try to refrigerate olive oil which hasn’t gone through this process, it will change texture and go cloudy. Once you bring the temperature up, it will return to normal.
While you should store it at room temperature or slightly lower, it’s also worth making sure it’s stored in an airtight glass container. Storing it in plastic can make it absorb chemicals from the plastic itself.
But is it worth freezing it? To answer this, it’s worth knowing the shelf life of olive oil at normal temperatures.
The Shelf Life Of Olive Oil
If the olive oil stays unopened, it will keep for up to two years before it starts to go rancid. When you open it, this reduces to about a year.
Like all food products, using olive oil sooner rather than later is best, as the quality doesn’t have enough time to deteriorate.
So if you can use the lot within a few months, you’ll be consuming it at its best.
Storing olive oil in the fridge, as before, will make it change consistency. If it’s extra virgin olive oil, you may get condensation developing, in which case the quality will plummet.
But when does it make sense to freeze it? Well, freezing the olive oil will mean it will retain its quality and its health benefits such as antioxidants.
If you’re not planning on using it, well, for a few years, you can freeze it. There is, however, a trade-off.
Once you defrost the olive oil, you’ll have only days to use it before it goes bad. So you will need to ensure that you know what you’ll use it for within the week that it defrosts.
How Do You Freeze Olive Oil?
To freeze olive oil, you’re probably better off freezing it in smaller portions, preferably only for single-use.
This will ensure that you don’t defrost more than you need, which is especially important, as olive oil will go off very quickly when you defrost it.
The best way of freezing olive oil is to decant it into ice cube trays. You can also add fresh herbs to each cube to add different flavors such as Dill, as well as making very quick bases for cooked dishes.
If you want to freeze fresh herbs anyway, doing so in olive oil will also stop freezer burn.
Once the cubes are frozen solid, transfer them into a freezer bag or an airtight container. You can also freeze olive oil in a marinade or a cooked dish, where it will be easier to use up when it comes to defrosting it.
It’s also worth knowing that each standard cube of an ice cube tray is equivalent to 2 tablespoons.
How Do You Thaw Frozen Olive Oil?
If you want to use the frozen olive oil for cooking, you don’t have to defrost it first. Simply throw it into the pan or dish you’ll be using, and let the heat do the work for you.
If you’re thawing a lot of olive oil at once, you can leave it out on the counter at room temperature, where it will thaw.
Freezing olive oil (see also Freezing Olives) is a simple process, and as long as you keep in mind that it won’t last more than 4 days after you defrost it, you can buy it when it’s on offer without worrying about its shelf life.