Do Olives Go Bad?

Olives are such versatile fruit! This Mediterranean fruit is often used in cooking and is the main source of olive oil. Apart from cooking, olives are also used in baking, as an ingredient to salads and pasta dishes, as pizza toppings, and in dips.

Usually, olives are sold in bottles or cans, preserved in brine or oil. It is quite rare for fresh olives to be sold at local supermarkets. This fruit also comes in different variants, green or black olives. They are sold pitted, with pit, or stuffed with pimiento or cheese. Do olives go bad?

do olives go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from Rene Schwietzke

Because bottled olives are preserved in brine or oil, the fruit will keep for a long, long time. Still, olives may go bad if they are not stored properly. For instance, heat and sun exposure could degrade the fruit. This increases the risk of rot even in preserved foods, even olives submerged in brine or oil.

How to Store Olives?

As with any other preserved products, the storage life of olives depends largely on the storage conditions. As long as the product is stored properly, olives won’t go bad quickly. The best way to store olives is to keep it the refrigerator. The chilly temperature ensures minimal degradation. Unopened bottles of olives can be kept in the pantry but only for a short period of time.

Storing Olives in the Pantry

This method is strictly for unopened bottles of olives. Just place the product in a cool, dark place away from sunlight. Heat and light exposure could accelerate the breakdown of the olives so do not store it near the stove or the kitchen counter. Once the product is nearing its expiry date, store the olives in the refrigerator to stretch the shelf life.

Storing Olives in the Refrigerator

For unopened bottles of olives, no additional prep is needed to store the product in the fridge. The back of the fridge is the ideal place to store olives because the temperature is more stable. Just place the bottle of olives in the back of the fridge and you are done.

For opened bottles of olives, you can use the original packaging of the product for storage. Just make sure the olives are fully submerged in brine to keep the product fresh. Keep the lid tightly closed to maintain freshness.

As for canned olives, it is not advisable to store the product in its original packaging especially if the can has been opened. Transfer the product to a rigid plastic container with an airtight lid or use a resealable plastic bag. Spoon the product into your desired container, pour the brine/oil then seal properly. Write the storage date then stick at the back of the fridge.

do olives go bad

Image used under Creative Commons from momo

Shelf Life of Olives

Kept in the pantry, unopened bottles of olives will keep for 2 to 3 years. Loose olives will keep for 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator. Olives preserved in brine or oil will keep in the fridge for 6 months or so. For preserved olives stuffed with pimiento, they should keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 months.

How to Tell if Olives Have Gone Bad?

It is quite easy to tell if preserved olives are no longer safe to eat. If the olives are starting to produce a funky odor, they are no longer safe to eat. If there are significant changes in texture and color, think twice before eating the olives. Slight color changes do not necessarily mean the olives are no longer usable. This goes especially for olives preserved in brine. The longer the olives are submerged in brine, the paler their coloring gets. However, if the olives start developing a bluish tint with a moldy odor, discard the product.


Olives can be eaten on their own or as ingredients to pasta dishes, salads, soups, stews, and even baked goodies. You can never have too many bottles of olives in the pantry! Do olives go bad? Although olives will go bad at some point, you are likely to maximize your supply as long as you know the best way to store the product.