Does Crisco Go Bad?

So you’ve bought a can of Crisco shortening for baking purposes. Since you’re not much of a baker, you use it only from time to time. The opened can sits in the pantry for a couple of months already and is nearing the date on the label. Does Crisco go bad?

Or perhaps you bought a few sticks of Crisco on a sale and you don’t go through them as quickly as you’d expect. And at this point, you’re almost certain that you will store some of them past the date on the label. You’ve considered freezing it but aren’t quite sure if that messes up the quality of the shortening or not.

If any of these questions and doubts sound familiar, this article is for you. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of Crisco shortening.

Cubes of shortening
Image used under Creative Commons from Veganbaking.net

How to Store Crisco Shortening?

Since Crisco consists mostly of soybean oil and palm oil, you store it similarly to other vegetable oils. That means it should sit in a cool and dark place, away from any sources of heat. The optimal place is the pantry, where it’s usually a few degrees colder than in the kitchen. But if you don’t have a dedicated pantry, a cupboard in the kitchen will work too. Just make sure it’s not above the stove.

Storing Crisco in the fridge is also an option, especially if you live in a warm climate and don’t own a pantry. But refrigerating this shortening comes with a cost: the fat becomes firmer. Fortunately, returning it to room temperature will bring back the usual texture.

Tip

Please remember that if you store it in the fridge, you need to take it out and put on the counter like half an hour before you need it for baking.

(credit: Adam Engelhart)

After opening the package, make sure you always close it tightly before putting back in storage. If the packaging is damaged or has some holes in it, transfer the shortening into an airtight container. Other than that, opening Crisco doesn’t really change anything regarding storage.

Last but not least, if you need to store Crisco for a very long time, freezing is an option. The method I recommend is freezing it using an ice cube tray. This way, you can easily scoop a few cubes from the freezer whenever you need some shortening. Thaw it in the fridge or on the counter and use it right away.

Vegan shortening
Image used under Creative Commons from Veganbaking.net

How Long Does Crisco Last

Like other oils and oil-related products, Crisco has a pretty long shelf life. It usually comes with a “best-by” or “best if used by” date, but that date is only an estimate of how long the product will retain freshness. Like other oils, it should stay fresh for a few months past that date if you store it properly.

Once you open the package, the process of quality degradation speeds up a bit. That’s because the fat gets access to fresh air and that results in fat oxidation, which leads to the oil going rancid. Of course, that process is slow and takes many months until you can consider the shortening rancid.

Cans of Crisco shortening should retain quality for about 12 months after opening, while sticks should last for about 6 months. The difference between the cans and sticks is because can protects the fat from oxygen much better than foil does.

 Pantry
Crisco (unopened or opened)Best-by + 3 months
Crisco stick (opened)6 months
Crisco can (opened)1 year

Please note that the periods above are for the best quality. Crisco shortening will likely stay safe to use for much longer.

Using Crisco for pie crust
(credit: Amy Stephenson)

How To Tell If Crisco Is Bad?

Like with oils such as olive oil, it’s not always obvious that Crisco is past its prime.

Generally, you should look for changes in appearance, smell, and taste. Crisco that’s a few shades darker than usually is a pretty sure sign of rancidity. Same thing if it smells off, rancid or stale. The sniff test is handy here as well.

Of course, any typical signs of spoilage like mold growth or significant consistency change apply here as well.

If Crisco looks and smells okay, and you don’t already store it for way too long, give it a taste and decide based on the outcome if it’s good enough to use. If it’s not, throw it out for quality purposes.