Chances are you have a bottle of cooking oil siting around inside your pantry. There are many different types of cooking oils, that each has their own unique flavors. If you are someone who cooks with oil often, whether its baking, frying, or pan cooked you probably go through bottles of this stuff quickly. Otherwise, you might find an old bottle that has been sitting around for a long time, unused. This might lead you to wonder if it is still safe to still cook with after so long. Well here are some tips on telling if that old bottle of cooking oil is still good to or needs to be tossed.
Image used under Creative Commons from Cottonseed Oil
Does cooking oil go bad?
Cooking oil does go bad after an extended period of time. Like most condiments, cooking oil, has a best if used by date. This date does not mean the oil has gone bad once it has gone passed it. No, in fact cooking oil can remain good for quite a while after this period of time. Now, this is going to depend on the type of oil you are using, but most can last two or even three years, if left unopened. Now, this date is an estimate and isn’t always right. If properly stored and handled, the cooking oil has the potential of lasting this long.
Let’s say you have an opened bottle of cooking oil sitting in your pantry. Well, to figure out if this oil is still good you are going to have to figure out a few things. For example, has it been properly stored? If not, there is a possibility that it has already started to go bad. A properly stored bottle of cooking oil can last a few months to a few years, depending on the type of oil it is and how it has been stored.
How to tell if your cooking oil has gone bad
Occasionally, you might notice a change in the color, texture, or clarity of the cooking oil over a period of time. This happens as it ages, but does not necessarily mean it has gone bad yet. As the fats in the oil begin to go rancid you will notices a change in the smell. If you notice a smell that is bad, this is a sign that your oil has gone bad. At this point it is best to toss the cooking oil away. If you notice that the taste has started to change as well, it is best to be careful. Once the taste has started to become unpleasant, it meant the fats have started to go bad and it shouldn’t be used.
Flavored oils might have other ingredients that can start going bad before the oil does. It is best to always follow any instructions on the bottle. Sometimes, with some oils the taste can change with aging and it isn’t always bad. The quality of oil changes after an extended period of time. If all other signs tell you it is good then it should be fine to use.
How to properly store your cooking oil
Cooking oils, like most condiments, should be stored somewhere cool and dry. The pantry is usually the safest place for it. A cupboard is also a great storage place, as it keeps light away. However, always read the labels and check for any special storage needs. For example look for a “refrigerate after opening” on the label. Otherwise, the cooking oil will be fine in the pantry. Always make sure the bottle is closed properly after each use. This is because cooking oil can be affected by oxygen, in a process called oxidation.
When it comes to food and drink, it’s best to always practice proper hygiene and food safety. This is to only way to help prevent foodborne illness. Cooking oil has the potential to last quite a while, stored safely in your pantry. However, it still has the potential to go bad. Use your best judgment of the taste and smell. If you are in doubt if it is still good, just throw it away. It is always better to be safe than sorry in this case.