does olive oil go bad?

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Yes it goes rancid if left too long on the shelf or gets near too much heat.

    Olive Oil and Rancidity

    When olive oil is too old and has oxidized, it is usually rancid. Rancidity is most commonly detected by taste but a chemical test can also check for rancidity. The "rancimat" chemical method is mostly used for large industrial frying operations. Oil doesn't suddenly go rancid, it slowly becomes more oxidized and as it does, the flavor suffers.

    Different oils age at different rates. Some olive varieties make oil with more natural antioxidants which resist ageing. These oils may be good for up to 3-4 years if properly stored in unopened containers. Other oils, particularly unfiltered oils, may be unpalatable in a year even if stored well.

    A two year old olive oil may taste rancid to some while others don't mind it. Most people would be put off by the taste of any vegetable oil more than 4-5 years old. Rancid oil has fewer antioxidants but is not poisonous. A good percentage of the world's population routinely eat rancid oil because of lack of proper storage conditions and some actually prefer the taste. In historical times olives which had dropped to the ground or which may have spoiled were made into olive oil which was stored in open-mouthed earthenware vats. Practices like these encouraged rancidity. People have come to expect non-rancid oil in the past 50 years because of chemical refining and better production and storage methods.

    Fatty acids are oxidized by one of the following mechanisms:

    1. "Auto-oxidation" occurs in the absence of air by reactive oxygen species or "free radicals". It is temporarily prevented by natural anti-oxidants in the oil which absorb these free radicals. When the antioxidants are used up, the oil ages quickly

    2. Photo-oxidation occurs when a double bond interacts with singlet oxygen produced from O2 by light. This can be 30,000 times faster than auto-oxidation (Frenkel EN et al. Lipids 1979, 14, 961).

    3. Enzymatic peroxidation. lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase enzymes are naturally found in plants and catalyze reactions between oxygen and polyunsaturated acids (

    A reader asks about using olive oil for dry mixes such as pancake mix:

    Olive oil will oxidize with exposure to air and dry mixes have very high surface areas for exposure. Using air-tight or inert gas packaging will help prevent oxidation. Anti-oxidant food additives will slow oxidation. Unfortunately auto-oxidation happens in the absence of oxygen and may be accelerated by exposure to other ingredients.

    Olive oil has not been used traditionally in dry mixes because it is expensive, it permeates packaging because it is liquid at room temperature and it oxidizes more quickly. Trans saturated fats are ideal for dry mixes; they are cheap, solid and stable. Unfortunately they are generally considered less healthy. Large companies which supply the food industry with edible fats do a great job of advising their clients and doing research on the best use of their formulated fats in areas such as dry mixes. The olive oil industry has not done this traditionally because olive oil was out of the price range for this use. With new health concerns and interest in olive oil I am hoping that the IOOC and other olive oil organizations can come to the aid of manufacturers such as yourself with better advice on how to use our product.

    Olive Oil Storage Temperature

    Many people ask about the proper storage temperature for olive oil. Heat speeds up all of the above reactions. Keeping your oil next to the stove in a clear bottle will quickly age it. Better to keep a large container in a dark, cool cupboard and pour a small amount into a dispenser for everyday use. Olive oil can be put into the refrigerator or freezer without harm, which will greatly extend its shelf life. Waxes in the oil may crystallize out into needles or a slurry when the oil is chilled. Warming the oil back to room temperature will re-liquefy it.


    Oil from green olives have higher levels of anti-oxidants such as carotenoids and some varieties naturally have higher levels than others. Blending an oil high in antioxidants with a more bland oil can greatly extend its shelf life. Auto-oxidation proceeds slowly until all anti-oxidants are used up at which time the free radicals attack the fatty acids and the oil quickly becomes rancid. This can happen in 1 to 3 years depending on oil storage conditions and variety. Sometimes an old oil will taste fine when first exposed to the air but a few weeks later can taste old and oxidized whereas a new oil will last for months after opening because it's natural antioxidants have not been used up. Look for olive oil brands which date their oil. Note that for oil made in the northern hemisphere and sold in the year 2005 will often have been picked in the fall and winter of 2004. It is the freshest oil you can buy even though it may be dated the year before.

    Olive Oil Storage Containers

    Olive Oil can be stored in containers as mundane as plastic or as indestructible as stainless steel.

    Metallic drums lined with epoxy resins resist light and impart little flavor however resin coatings can peel after several years, exposing metal surfaces which impart off odors and flavors. Most large producers feel that the newer plastic drums are excellent for long term storage and are inexpensive but unattractive.

    Glass is an excellent storage container if it is tinted to exclude light but is not practical for bulk storage.

    Stainless steel is much better and is considered one of the best storage methods, but has been considered expensive. Custom stainless steel tanks fabricated domestically can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Imported standard sized containers are now fairly reasonable. The Olive Oil Source is currently importing stainless steel tanks from Italy for those who like the look, durability and keeping characteristics. The tanks are specifically made for olive oil in the Imperia region. 500 liter tanks with conical bottoms, welded steel legs, 2 stainless ball valves, a site glass to determine oil level and a floating air-tight lid (see containers). 1000 liter tanks end up being 67 inches tall. 2000 liter tanks are also available. The floating lid has an inner-tube type gasket which can be inflated to exclude air. As the oil level drops, the top drops too, keeping oxygen out. Tanks without floating lids can be filled with nitrogen or inert gas to exclude oxygen. Tanks can be ordered with extra access hatches for easier cleaning. Flat bottom tanks are considerably cheaper than the conicals. A Florentine swirl finish adds 6% to the price.

    Stainless Fustis are also available in a variety of sizes from 5 to 100 liters with airtight lids and stainless spigots. These look something like milk cans with handles on the top and are highly polished. Some producers are offering their oil in the smaller fustis or are allowing retail locations to refill the customer's empty bottles out of the larger ones. This encourages brand loyalty and makes buying oil an event.

    Storage with Inert Gas

    Bottling equipment is now available which will put a charge of inert gas into the airspace above the oil in the bottle which delays oxidization and rancidity. See bottling equipment and look for sparge options.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • aharon
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Does Olive Oil Go Bad

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 6 years ago

    A friend told me he hates Olive oil because of taste and cause it can not be used for cooking as it precipitates, etc. ...Asked me "how could I like it ?"

    One day we went to a store and I bought 2 cans 3 liters each. He could see I was serious, telling him I use only Olive oil so he bought one can to try it.

    Before that he brought to work a little sample for me to check.

    It was the most rancid oil one could imagine, I did not taste it, as it smelled so rancid.

    He asked me, was it not the way olive oil always is ? and "what is Rancid" Funny it might be the rancid sample came from a hospital cafeteria.

    Guess it was 20 years old.

    Guess when no vitamin E in oil is left, all oils spoil fast.

    Not all stores are good at selling only fresh oils.

    Many big stores have old little expensive rancid oils on the shelves.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, olive oil will go rancid just as any oil will. But it doesn't happen quickly. If you don't use a lot of olive oil, buy it in small containers. It won't go rancid if it is sealed but once you open it, even corking it doesn't prevent it from reacting with the air that gets into it when you remove the cork. So buy it in small quantities, and enjoy it while it's fresh.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Yes all oils have a shelf life. Check your bottle it should have an expiration date. Oils made from nuts and olive oils do go bad faster then any other kind such as vegetable or canola

    • Login to reply the answers
  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    With every day pass, our country is getting into more and more trouble. The inflation, unemployment and falling value of dollar are the main concern for our Government but authorities are just sleeping, they don’t want to face the fact. Media is also involve in it, they are force to stop showing the real economic situation to the people. I start getting more concern about my future as well as my family after watching the response of our Government for the people that affected by hurricane Katrina.

    According to recent studies made by World Bank, the coming crisis will be far worse than initially predicted. So if you're already preparing for the crisis (or haven't started yet) make sure you watch this video at and discover the 4 BIG issues you'll have to deal with when the crisis hits, and how to solve them fast (before the disaster strikes your town!) without spending $1,000s on overrated items and useless survival books.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 5 years ago

    if the cork breaks off in the olive oil, is it still good?

    • Login to reply the answers
  • rosey
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Yes, it will. I had this happen to me over the summer and a friend of mine who is a chef said to store it in the refrigerator.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    yes, unfortunately.

    • Login to reply the answers
  • 1 decade ago

    No it does not as long as it is properly sealed (cork).

    Remember that the older it is, the better it is.

    • D N6 years agoReport

      The most stupid opinion.

    • Login to reply the answers
Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.