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What is the shelf life of olive oil?

 

Dolores asks:

How long should be the life of a bottle of Extra virgin olive oil? How long should you keep it? I bought a large bottle at Sam's club a couple of years ago, and still have a little left, but afraid it might be too old....Does it turn rancid or lose it's flavor after a certain length of time? I just threw out a smaller bottle that had a date on it...best if used before Feb of 07....Should all bottles of oil have a expiration date on them....I am afraid to buy a large bottle again...please advise.

Olive Oil News replies:

Shelf life is very variable, depending on the olive variety, ripeness when pressed, care in processing, filtering, etc. It also depends on storage after it has left the producer, something they have no control of, so it is hard to "guarantee" a certain lifespan. Look on the label for a date. Remember that most olives are picked in the late fall or winter and are sold the next year, so 2006 oil will be the freshest available until early 2008 when 2007 oil will come on the market.

Lifespan can be as little as 3 months for an unfiltered late harvest olive bottled in clear glass and sold off a supermarket shelf above hot deli foods which is then stored by the consumer in bright light on a hot stovetop with the cap unscrewed. It can be as much as 3-4 years for an early harvest, high polyphenol containing olive variety which has been filtered then packaged in a well sealed tin or dark bottle then stored in a cool dark place by the grocer and consumer.

Best to buy small quantities, use up the oil within 6 months.

Any vegetable oil will go rancid with time. The oil is still edible but will taste bad.

See our olive oil storage for a more lengthy discussion.

Posted: October, 2007

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